The definition of fear is: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.” Isn’t that interesting? Fear is an emotion caused by a belief. Fear itself does not hurt us.
And many of the things humans are afraid of are actually not dangerous at all.
- Fear of being embarrassed
- Fear of being vulnerable.
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of what others will think.
These things will not kill us – but the fear prevents us from taking action. The belief (not the actuality) that someone or something is dangerous makes us afraid. And in some life or death instances, it is useful. For example, if you were being attacked by a bear or someone is breaking into your home.
It is not useful to be afraid of the unpleasant emotion of fear. Fear is protective when needed and harmless when not. When we are afraid to feel unpleasant emotions, we avoid doing anything that brings them up. We’re terrified that we will feel something forever and we will never be able to escape it. We are afraid of the unknown because we don’t know how we will feel. This fear of emotional pain causes suffering. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Fear is the reason we need courage. Courage doesn’t exist without fear.
Courage is a character trait worth building. But we cannot develop courage if we don’t expose ourselves to fear. You cannot get physically stronger if you don’t expose yourself to lifting heavy things. If you want to develop courage, you must expose yourself to scary things. Growth comes with unpleasant emotions.
Fear is a natural part of being a human being, but if you don’t take the first step of building courage then you won’t be able to overcome fear. And if you aren’t able to overcome your own fears, then you won’t be able to grow into your best self either.
Do something today that scares you.