Fear – Is It Good or Bad?


Jack was excited! All of his hard work paid off and he finally got an interview. And then a job offer. He could have a better paying job with better hours. But it required more responsibility. He would manage a lot more people than he was used to. And his budget was a lot bigger, too. Fear set in. Of failing. Not being good enough. Being found out. The unknown. But he needed a better job. Just like this one. Why was he so afraid?

What is Fear?

Fear can be helpful, but it can also paralyze us. Fear, like any other emotion, is a warning sign or indicator. Of something. Fear typically warns us of potential danger. Such as:

  • Loss of income
  • Falling from a high distance
  • Spiders
  • Public speaking
  • Etc.

Typically, it isn’t so much the thing itself that we are afraid of, but a possible outcome. Loss of income can lead to embarrassment, homelessness, etc. Public speaking can result in embarrassment, looking silly, etc. In these moments fear can be helpful. It can prevent us from looking foolish, being homeless, etc. This is productive fear. But it can also get in our way.

How Being Afraid Gets in the Way

Sometimes, being afraid can get in our own way. We feel almost paralyzed. Sometimes this happens because we:

  • Can’t see a solution
  • Only see the problems
  • Don’t have what we need to stop the situation
  • Feel hopeless
  • Are overwhelmed

So What Can We Do?

When fear takes over, Stop! Ask yourself what, specifically, you are afraid of. It’s not just about loosing a job – or starting a new one. Something specifically about that situation is getting to you. So:

  • Identify what you are afraid of
  • Figure out why you are afraid of it (no, “It is scary” or because I am afraid” is not what I mean)
  • Identify what you can control in the situation
  • Develop a plan to address the fearful situation
  • Use help as needed

Sometimes, knowing why are are feeling fear and making a plan is not enough. Sometimes the fear doesn’t make sense. Or have a solution. Sometimes our supports can’t really help. When this happens, talking to a counselor can help us be free from fear so we can live the life we want.

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