“The fuel of fear is uncertainty.”

I have talked quite a bit about fear in the past, and my belief that fear is the primary thing that prevents personal growth, but I never gave much thought to what causes fear.

Interestingly, as I was riding to work today, I heard a snippet on NPR, that spelled things out for me (more importantly brought it to consciousness) very well.  Uncertainty creates fear.

So now, we can spell out the emotion (fear) an the thought that creates it (uncertainty), which makes this a very powerful idea to keep in mind.

Of course, we see this in play out on a daily basis.

When one of my kids had a minor procedure, there was a lady that came into explain exactly what they would be doing, so my child would understand what was going on.  It really helped alleviate fear.

Even my dental hygienist has started telling me each step as she cleans my teeth.  Personally, I find it exceedingly annoying, but I’m sure there are plenty of people with dentist anxiety that find it helpful!

Beyond healthcare, it also helps explain our deep seated fear of death, the ultimate unknown, or the performance anxiety felt by a performer before they go out on stage, uncertain if they will forget their lines.

As the NPR production pointed out, it helps instill fear between groups of people that don’t know each other.  Which is why introducing disparate people via social activities, helps sooth the fear, as the people become people and not unknowns others, leading to friendships.

So lets learn a few things.

When we are fearful, or anxious, we need to ask ourselves, what is the unknown that we are fearful or anxious about.  We can then fill in the details in our mind, and make it less unknown or uncertain.  Additionally, by exercising our imagination, and envisioning success we can lesson the amount of uncertainty but proactively envisioning a positive outcome.

However, the main takeaway is to remember that fear is caused by uncertainty and that if you want to divest yourself of fear and live bravely, work on your comfort with uncertainty.  After all, nothing is certain in life.

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