Brain Food #671

Operating on the edge of fear

Thoughts of the day

It is often said that the only thing to fear is fear itself, but that is not entirely true.

Fear can be an indication of something threatening coming our way, and thus a form of self-protection, an internal alarm system that goes off to let us know we need to be more cautious. This is a rational form of fear, and key to our survival.

Fear can also signal something we are unfamiliar with. After all, unfamiliarity is a concept often used to generate fear in the horror genre, which is why monsters, spirits, and other beings we do not encounter on our day-to-day tend to personify evil.

But unfamiliarity does not necessarily need to signify threat - it can also be linked to opportunity.

Perhaps something we should consider more often when feeling afraid is the origins of fear, and how rational this fear really is. Is it based on an unfortunate negative past experience, or on irrational expectations set by ourselves or someone else? What about fear of failure? If that is the case, should fear really stand in the way?

After all, fear does not lead to inaction, but exactly the opposite. When you are afraid of something, you do not stay still; you run away from it. Operating on the edge of fear means we are operating and acting just outside our comfort zone, where growth tends to happen.

By artist Georgia O’Keeffe, whose birthday would have been today:

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”


Beyond painting flowers, which she became widely known for, O’Keeffe also painted vast American landscapes, which can be as intimidating as they can be beautiful.


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