Your fears are lying to you

“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”

What are you afraid of? How could you not be?

It seems that every commercial, every politician, every news story begins with an appeal to our deepest darkest fears. As a society we’re obsessed with the latest disease, the latest threat to our environment, the latest threat to our personal and collective security, the latest threat to our freedom, the latest threat to our very way of life.

I’ve been writing about confronting and overcoming fear for years, and the threats and rumors of threats just keep on coming.

You know what? You’re probably not going to die of Ebola. The country is not going to dissolve into chaos because of the election results. You’re probably not going to be killed in a terrorist attack. You’re probably not going to get cancer or poison yourself or have a four-hour erection anytime soon.

Yes: You could die of Ebola. The country might dissolve into chaos. You might be killed in a terrorist attack. You might get cancer or poison yourself or get a four-hour erection.

But those things probably won’t happen. In fact, I all but guarantee it.

At least the odds are so good that you will live through today, and tomorrow, that your best bet is to quit worrying and focus on living.

Sometimes the most fabulous, incredible stuff comes out of nowhere and smacks you upside the head with delight if you keep yourself open to the possibilities instead of the fears.

That happened to me about 20 years ago, the first time I listened to the wonderful Tom Petty album called Wildflowers. There, in the middle of a song called “Crawling Back to You,” Tom hit me between the eyes with a simple, life-affirming truth:

“Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

Don’t let them scare you. You’re going to live. Do you hear me? You’re going to live!

Whatever is frightening you, you’re going to live through it. Whatever you think is about to defeat you, you’re going to live through it, and you will live to fight another day.

Now, I did say I “all but” guarantee it. We all die of something. But you gain nothing by worrying about it: Most things you worry about never happen anyway.

The key to freedom, the key to realizing your dreams, is to spit in the eye of your fear. Sure you’re afraid; work with that. Take the nervous energy you waste worrying and convert it into the triumphant energy of doing something great today.

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Published by

WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith, journalist and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, and a couple of cats.