It is clear to us that fear is an inevitable aspect of our lives. Throughout our lives, we exert enough mental energy to conjure up many scenarios in our minds about what could go wrong in the future. Sometimes our fears make a lot of sense. For example, being afraid of one experiencing job loss in a society of major economic instability is a reasonable fear to have. On the other hand, sometimes our fears are quite irrational. For instance, being afraid that aliens from some unknown planet will conquer earth and destroy all humans does not sit well with what fears we generally consider to be acceptable.
Our fears have the power to encourage us to persevere with the hope that things will turn out fine in the end as well as the power to cripple us from the inside out. One thing all our fears commonly share is having something meaningful to say to us.
Fear = Storytelling
Karen Thompson Walker, a fiction writer and TED Talks speaker of 2012, has expressed to the world that we should be ready to listen to our fears more deeply instead of being quick to push them away. In the video above, she makes valid connections between fear and the human imagination while referring to fears as stories we author.
If you think about it, that’s exactly what fears are. They are dramatic stories we create with the help of our complex imaginations, which serves as a coping mechanism for dealing with uncertainty (and the stress it causes us). Yet they turn out not to be true a lot of time.
What if we thought of fear as an amazing act of the imagination, something that can be as profound and insightful as storytelling itself?
Karen goes on further to explain fear as “a kind of unintentional storytelling that we are all born knowing how to do”. According to her, fear and storytelling have the same structure and components. More specifically, they both feature characters, plots, beginnings, middles, and ends. In other words, we are all much like fiction writers in our own heads, recording crazy novels about how food corporations are trying to kill us or how the world is going to end.
The Key Takeaway
What appears to be more important than drafting up fictional stories in our minds is having the ability to read them well. Being able to discern the true essence of our fears can be like witnessing light at the end of the tunnel and moving forward to embrace it. It can allow us to understand which fears carry greater significance than others as well as how to deal with them properly.
Reading our fears well requires open-mindedness, patience, hope, intuitiveness, and a will to take action. It’s a lifelong adventure of exploring the darkness of our thoughts and feelings to figure out what valuable, life-changing secrets are hidden there. It seems to be something we can never fully master, with all the growing difficulties of fearfulness that accompany being human. However, it’s something we will often encounter in order to mature into better people. You should consider it a healthy challenge.
I encourage you to watch the whole video, which is approximately 10 minutes long and hear Karen’s in-depth perspective concerning a refreshing way to think about fear. In reality, fear is one of our greatest teachers. We just have to pay attention to its life lessons to understand why. Now don’t be late for class!
Do you think that fear is a good teacher? Your thoughts and comments below please...