Use Knowledge to Overcome Fear

15687c7dcebb25cbe492589e5566d9aaThis post was inspired, in part, by my partnership with our book sponsor.

I have written a lot about being afraid. I don’t know if that’s because I have an inordinate amount of fears, or if overcoming fears is simply an essential part of pursuing happiness and so a blog about happiness has to get into the scary stuff a lot. Perhaps it’s a little from column A and B.

In taking a constant and closer look at fear, I’ve discovered two things to be true about almost everything I am afraid of:

  1. The big bad fear is tied in some way to something that could be really, really good. The more precious the dream, the more likely I am to be terrified somewhere along the way.
  2. The fear itself is shrouded in unknowns. It can be hard to identify – or conquer – my fears because of all the mystery and ambiguity that surrounds them.

The first one reminds me that being afraid can be a sign to keep going, that the reward is crucial to fulfilling my destiny and finding peace at a cellular level. If my heart is pounding and I’m worried about throwing up or peeing my pants, I’m probably on the right track.

The second tells me that I need to do my homework.

When I was in New York City last month (I can’t believe it was just a month ago!!), I spent every day fantasizing about living in Manhattan. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a teenager, but it’s only recently that I’ve felt like I could really make it happen in this lifetime. Naturally, a dream I’ve had for that long is going to come with some fear.

For me, my biggest fear is that it won’t happen – that I will never be able to afford it. Housing is crazy expensive there, right?

The thing is, I had no idea what housing cost. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that people live in New York City. Lots of people. People who are neither rich nor famous are living in Manhattan with roofs over their heads. In other words, it can be done! I just need to figure out how. First step? During my last visit, I looked up ads for rentals in the neighborhoods I wanted to live in.

And just like that, I felt a little less afraid.

Of course, not all fears are based on dreams of moving to The Big City. Some fears have nothing to do with dreams and everything to do with the imaginary what ifs.

My daughter is terrified of tornadoes. Terrified. Ever since seeing with her own two eyes the way a tornado wiped out our hometown, she has been obsessed with the possibility of a strong wind or hard rain morphing into a destructive storm. She asks at least once a day, “Will there be a tornado today?”

Because I believe knowledge has the power to ease fears, I got Emma the book Weather & Space. She read about how a tornado is formed and what weather conditions are required.

Is she still afraid of tornadoes?

Yep. As well she should be – they have the ability to wipe out homes and lives and entire towns. But! Now she knows when to be afraid. She’s not haunted by an unpredictable what if that could strike at any time. And, most importantly, we can calm her down much more easily by reminding her that “No! It’s 50 degrees out, kid! There is not going to be a freaking tornado today!”

Are you being haunted by unknowns? What research could you do today to be a little less afraid?

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