Halloween Special #4: Fear and Worry

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Although you might expect different from me based on my most recent posts here, I’m going to spend today’s installment encouraging you to respect fear.

Fear is a healthy emotion. It’s your psyche’s response to perceiving legitimate threats to your health and safety — a survival response evolved over millions of years. As security expert Gavin deBecker says, it’s a gift that helps you stay safe.

Worry is no gift. It consists of focusing on the things that could go wrong — often to the extent that your worry interferes with your ability to prevent the calamity. Worry distracts you and increases your stress level.

If you re-read the other posts in this series, you’ll come to an inescapable conclusion. What I’ve been describing as “fears” are more accurately described as “worries.” Because they’re worries, they share several traits in common:

  • They’re abstract — not direct threats to your life and health, but rather perceived concerns about a theoretical quality of life.
  • They’re not happening right now — people worry about the future, not the present.
  • They’re generally under your control — fear is about things the world does to you. Worry is about what you do in the world.
If you have a legitimate, present fear about writing for a living — such as a huge monthly debt payment you won’t make without your full-time job — that’s a good reason to put off your plans to become a writer.

But.

If only your worries are standing in the way, that’s no reason not to get started. You’l overcome those worries fastest by watching yourself succeed despite them.

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