“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
A lot has been written about fear.
Long lists or shorter lists of all the basic fears a Human has, such as fear of Death, Extintion, Mutilation, Separation, etc and that are recognized by the field of psychology as primal fears.
Then we have the universal fobias and uncontrollable fears such as of the dark, heights, blood, enclosed spaces, loud sounds, pain, death, monsters, humiliation, loneliness… these fears have always been with us. They are the dangers our early ancestors faced, and their shadows still haunt our nightmares. Naturally, that is why writers of horror fiction like to use and exploit these. Here is a list of 50 words and names for the most common in case you like long lists or you want to find the name for one of your uncontrollable Fears. Mine is Arachnophobia but only of hairy big chunky spiders… Go figure!
But I’m not writing this article to state what has been stated before, am I?
I’m writing this today, because I got inspired by Halloween and because I have indeed been thinking, searching and reading on the subject since a chat I had with a friend of mine on how some of our more complex fears prevent us of achieving happiness, success and self-evolution.
Oliver Napoleon Hill, an American self-help author best known for his book Think and Grow Rich (1937) which is among the 10 best selling self-help books of all time, identified, studied and wrote about the six existential life fears that people have to overcome. He also stated that our fears keep us locked in our head, and ultimately limit our potential. According to Hill one can not be happy when one’s potential is limited.
So First, let us identify these six existencial fears:
- The fear of poverty
- The fear of criticism
- The fear of ill health
- The fear of loss/lack of love
- The fear of old age
- The fear of death
Second, let us list some symptoms of having these fears:
- Not fully loving
- Seeking Approval
- Low motivation
These are just a few of the symptoms, all negative traits that can prevent us from our potential and from being happy or taking positive action. Of course, everyone has these fears to a certain extent. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. But these fears become a problem when they consume us, take over our thoughts, drive our behavior, and eventually hinder our quality of life.
Third, lets look at how to overcome these fears by first of all NOT worrying, according to Hills’ advice and argument that “an unsettled mind is helpless”, and by making the following six decisions:
- On the fear of poverty – firmly decide that you will accumulate wealth responsibly and that you will happily get along with the wealth you are able to accumulate.
- On the fear of criticism – decide not to worry about what other’s think of you.
- On the fear of ill-health – decide to no longer focus on diseases and their associated symptoms. Don’t unnecessarily fill your mind with pictures of real or imagined diseases.
- On the fear of the loss of someone’s love – decide to enjoy and value the love you receive and to love back in return with as much love as you can.
- On the fear of old age – decide to accept old age as a blessing … Also decide to be grateful for the wisdom and experience that comes along with age.
- On the fear of death – decide to accept and make peace with death as an inescapable event.
As a child I was afraid of poverty, of being alone in the world, with no food and no shelter over my head. Came to discover that we can survive the most hard of situations and thrive regardless of exterior limitations. You just need to work harder but in no way it is impossible to get out of a “tough spot”.
As a young adult I was afraid of not achieving success. Now I know that the concept of success is relative and changes along with you and the objectives you have at some point in life. Despite my own life challenges and misfortunes, past and future, I do my best to believe I will be successful in some way.
As a mother I have been afraid to lose one of my kids. When they were babies and if extremely silent while sleeping, I would get up middle of the night and go check if they were breathing. Every time a car passes too close and misses hitting them or every time we went to the hospital because of a more severe illness or situation, my heart stops at the thought that I may loose any of them. To this day, this is the worst of all my fears. Immutable true is, that despite both my kids are growing strong, healthy, autonomous and happy, I haven’t overcome this fear… But in the meantime I have learned that as a Mother I can always solve and handle any bloody situation. Even if I almost faint of stress after all it’s over!
As a grown woman, I was afraid of not being able to love someone or to find that special person in life. And then I came to realize that love comes and goes. Loves lasts longer or shorter. But in no way it is the amount of time it lasts that measures Love… It is the quality of it. Fortunately I have been loved and have loved, in some shorter or longer quantity but always in the highest quality. And that has ceased any and all my fears regarding Love.
As an evolving person I do have a fear that I still struggle and that I cannot control to today… And it’s not on Hill’s list.
The fear of not knowing enough… that leads to the fear of failure.
So when the fear strikes what do I do? First I do as everyone does… I freeze up. I get scared, cautious and I play safe. But then I remember all the amazing things I have learned throughout my life. I make a mental list of all the things I have learned on my own and by myself and from others. And I go study it. Or I ask for help. Or I Google it. Eventually I just do it. Sometimes I do drop it… Unfortunately, I regretfully admit it, I have dropped opportunities just because I was scared. With age I have been learning to recognize the opportunities I drop because they are out of my league for real from the ones I drop out of fear… Still a continuous learning process though. Some have said that these are the fears that all Entrepreneurs must conquer. Let’s hope so.
Fear of Aging and of Death I simply just don’t have anymore. My life has been intense, happy and fruitful. My legacy are my kids and they are an amazing legacy to leave behind. Aging will be what I’ll make of it health permitting.
I’ve always been afraid of spiders. I kinda can guess I will always be.
But I am ok with that fear.
May I always have a shoe or a slipper at hand to slap that fear away…