Afraid of Afraid

from Seth’s Blog

We’d probably be better off if we could simply say, “I’m afraid.”

Our culture has persistently reminded us that the only thing to fear is fear itself, that confessing fear is a failure and that it’s better to lie than to appear un-brave.

And so we pretend to be experts in public health and epidemiology instead of simply saying, “I’m afraid.”

We fight possible change from the start instead of examining it on the merits.

And we make uninformed assertions about the causes and implications of global phenomena instead of acknowledging that change is scary.

Fear of being afraid keeps things on our to-do list forever, keeps important conversations from happening and shifts how we see our agency and leverage in the world.

The bravest leaders and contributors aren’t worried about appearing afraid. It allows them to see the world more clearly.

More here.

Posted in Ideas and tagged , , .

14 Comments

  1. This article couldn’t be more true about our everyday lives. Fear is something that we as humans face every single day and yet we are often afraid to admit it. For example there were many things that I was scared about today in fact. I was scared I wouldn’t wake up for class, I was scared we wouldn’t win out intramural game. And all that built up in to my nerves until I actually started playing. If I was able to admit that I was scared we would lose then I all my nerves would go away. But commonly we are scared to admit it because we either don’t want to seem like a wimp or unconfident. As an athlete I have become better and better at controlling these emotions and using my fear as motivation. If you have fear in your life that means you are doing something important, with that knowledge I use it as motivation to just do my best. Another thing that I do is is prepare for this fear. This is evident in a test when I make sure to study and the day of the test I take deep breaths and accept that I have done everything I could have. At the end of the day if I didn’t do well there is much else I could have done because I have it my all. Yet there have been multiple times in my life where this fear has taken over. This most often comes the day before a test when I feel I need to stay up super late to make sure I know everything. This fear leads to me failing to do efficient studying, and in the end actually know less even if I stayed up till midnight. I have learned how to control this fear because it has happened to me so many times. At the end of the day if you have fear in your life it is important to not let it control you. Take a deep breath and use it for motivation.

  2. Is fear good or bad? Well, fear of nothing has caused many to have anxiety which comes along with depression and stress. But it’s also important to know that fear may cause one to act righteously for they may fear a higher power. The best way to look at fear is in a balanced manner because if one negates fear and does everything that comes to his mind, he will be detrimental both to himself and others. Yet, in opposition, the one who is scared of everything will be very self-conscious and will fall into mental issues because of his restriction upon himself.

    Our society today has made many people way too “soft”, with easy access to essential needs. The best way to understand this is to realize that comfort does not lead to a blissed state, a matter of fact it does the complete opposite it leads to a regretful state of mind. Let’s say there’s a teenager who has never gone on a roller coaster because he was too scared. Now when he sees everyone else’s experiences he will feel left out, later causing him to be regretful. But if he proceeds to fight that fear and turn in into enjoyment he will continue to remember that experience. And now using that analogy and applying it to a bigger scale we see how many brave leaders have fought against their fear and used it as a form of motivation. We look at the most impactful leaders throughout history like Salahuddin Ayyubi, Avicenna, Averroes, Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h, Prophet Jesus p.b.u.h, as well as many more. All these men were some sort of leaders who have had a lasting impact throughout the globe, and if they simply used the words “I’m afraid” in the context of acting in that of which is necessary for them to do, then much of what we know and incorporate today would not be the same. And the important thing to remember is that all these leaders did in fact keep the aspect of fear in their lives, but they used that as motivation and to keep themselves humble, each in their own different ways, which lead to many changes in the world. Fear must be balanced.

  3. This post, “Afraid of Afraid,” on Seth’s Blog, stresses the importance of being able to recognize when a situation or concept is intimidating, and having an appropriate response. In a reality where people think they know better than medical professionals and scientists in a subject such as COVID-19, it’s more important than ever that people around the world start being more honest about their true feelings. Especially in the United States, which contains arguably the largest population of self-entitled know-it-alls, people put their personal pride before actual truth. This kind of thought process is exactly what’s slowing down real progress in this nation. People use made-up excuses to justify their own outlandish beliefs, other people will listen to them, and therefore perpetuate a cycle of ignorance. The obvious truth is that everybody feels scared in some situations and pretending otherwise is simply counterintuitive. Particularly in this pandemic, scientists have dedicated their time and lives to finding the safest and most effective vaccines for the public to receive. Meanwhile, there are a large group of people who refuse to get those vaccines due to thinking they are somehow above needing help, and they can’t simply admit that this virus scares them. In a situation like this, vulnerability is a necessary tool in order to ultimately succeed.
    In this blog post, Seth says, “The bravest leaders and contributors aren’t worried about appearing afraid. It allows them to see the world more clearly.” Fear is a completely understandable response to such a rapidly-spreading and potentially lethal virus, and people shouldn’t have to feel like they’re in the wrong for having such a response. An obvious and relevant example of this was Trump’s horrific handling of this virus when he was still in power. Instead of taking responsibility to put the people of this nation’s safety as a top priority, he used fear mongering and blatant announcements of false information in order to defy logic. Unfortunately, a large percentage of this nation blindly listened to his words, claimed that this virus either doesn’t exist or is not a big deal, and are ultimately the reason that we’re still stuck in this pandemic. Although not unique to this country, there are many people who think ignoring the government and making choices despite indisputable reason somehow makes them stronger people. This blog post basically says that that doesn’t make you stronger…it makes you stupid.

  4. This article from Seth’s Blog definitely brings up a controversial topic. I think that a big part on how people are going to feel after reading this blog will be based off of how they were raised. I think that Seth makes some valid points in this article, however, there are also certain points that I do not agree with. Overall, I think that the open expression of fear is good in certain circumstances. There are times when you flat out openly admit that you are scared, there are times when you partially hide your fear, and there are times when you completely hide your fear. In theory, it might be better for someone to always admit when they are afraid, however, when the factors of reality come in, it is not such a good idea. Especially when you are in a position of leadership, when a lot of people are depending on you, it is never a good idea to openly admit fear. This concept could really extend to anyone who is not your close friends or family. When you are fast to admit that you are afraid, it opens up the gates of weakness, and as soon as those gates open, the people around you are going to enter them faster than a New York minute. As soon as anyone sees even the slightest signs of weakness in someone, they use it as leverage. This could apply to something more complex, such as the boss of a company and its employees, or something as simple as a fist fight. For example, if employees were to see that their boss has even the slightest soft spot, they will use that information to step all over him/ her. Even if the people under you do not have malicious intent, they still depend on you. So if you show that you are scared during a bump in the road, they will most likely become scared as well. In situations like these, you must keep your guard up no matter what. At the same time, it is not healthy to keep these feelings of fear bottled up all the time. Individuals need an outlet, and this is where family and close friends come in. You could use these people as an outlet to share your feelings of stress and fear because, (if they are good people), you trust that they will not tell anyone else about it or use it against you.

  5. This article explains how being afraid can be a huge setback for people to achieve their goals. In our society, we are taught to fear ourselves so we will not be scared to hold ourselves back. But are we better off just saying that we are afraid? Personally, allowing yourself to say “I’m afraid” can either be a good or a bad thing; it depends on how you want to handle your fear. I try not to let fear hold me back from my goals and my future. I acknowledge that I’m afraid, but I have to make myself stronger from that. Recently, I made a new objective, and that is that I have to push myself harder. I would let fear and hard work push me back from what I want to achieve, but I realize that mentality will get me nowhere in life. As said in the article, being afraid allows many of your goals to not be achieved or conversations on hold. Uncomfortable conversations are crucial for growth and your character, and I’m still learning that.
    Additionally, the article states, “We fight possible change from the start instead of examining it on the merits” (Seth, 4). This quote spoke to me because I know a lot of people are going through this issue. Many are afraid of change and will do anything to prevent it. Unfortunately, that can allow for you to be behind in life and prohibit growth in your character. I have family members who are still in the same state, probably due to the fear of change. I know change can be scary, but I know that it’s essential for life and growing as a person. Also, if you want to be a great leader, you can not let fear dictate your next moves. This mindset can be very scary for you as an individual and can prohibit you from getting things done. Adapting to change and conquering your fears can help you to achieve anything. Eventually, you will no longer be afraid of fear, which is the end goal and a fundamental life lesson.

  6. I really like this blog post. In society, vulnerability is something that is often seen as weak and frowned upon. However, if more people were willing to speak on what was bothering them, more issues would be resolved (and resolved at a quicker rate.) I really like when he is speaking on this, the author states how it appears better to lie than to appear unbrave about situations. This shows how negative and toxic cultural structures that humans have built are and how adjustments to this way of thinking would be beneficial.
    Later on, I really like how the post acknowledges how change can be scary. I like how the author says this because when speaking about issues like this, it is important to be emphatic.With the platform such as the one he has, it is important to gain trust in readers so they will continue to support your page. In addition to him being empathic, that statement is something that I believe to be as true.
    Change can be daunting and intimidating. However, without change, civilizations and humans do not progress. There have been many necessary changes made that have helped society move forward. For example, think about American society without the Thirteenth Amendment. Without that amendment being passed, this country would not be united and there would mass conflict (politically and socially) where slavery was still presistent. Another example of how change has been positive in this country was when the American with Disabilities Act was passed. This helped ensure that people with disabilities were not discriminated against and could find employment in the country.
    Finally, I really like how this article finished. If anyone wants to do something positive in society or some sort of leadership position, they can not be afraid of what people think. While I still think those people are often afraid of certain scenarios occurring, they rationalize these outcomes in order to make the best decisions they can. I think this was a great way to finish this blog post. The emphatic and enthusiastic tone would make me recommend this blog post to someone else my age.

  7. There are almost 8 billion people in the world. The reality is every single one of these people have experienced or will experience fear and being afraid at some point during their life. This article grabbed my attention immediately as it called out how society is afraid to admit being afraid. I also think we fear what we don’t know or are not used to. We are scared to not have all the answers, all the solutions, and to let anyone know that we are struggling. I feel like we are a reactive society, not a responsive one. By this I mean we don’t always take the time to fully understand, work through, and successfully solve/process problems. This is seen a lot when people are faced with change.

    People fear all different levels of change. For some, the change they fear most might be moving across the country, trying a strange food, or even going to college. While these are personally based fears that don’t really impact the masses, when a big enough group of people fear a certain change enough, there can be large scale implications. In the years leading up to June 26, 2015, same sex marriage was a very controversial, heavily debated topic in the US. Some groups were so against the change they held rallies, protests, etc. in an effort to prevent the legislation from passing. Instead of taking the time to process and realize that at the end of the day we are all people no matter who we love, they simply got angry. Why? Because they couldn’t understand it, and they feared it.

    A more recent example of ignorance and fear is when it comes to the discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement and the message it is trying to get across. For whatever reason, when it comes to social issues that do not affect certain people personally, they chose to ignore it and not believe it. Or worse, they try to justify why people should deal with these issues. I can’t understand why people are against everyone being treated equal and that is where I have to believe fear plays a roll. I have to think these people are afraid, of what specifically I cannot even guess, but scared none the less. However, instead of admitting that, they take the route of full-blown racist. I have to wonder if both sides were capable of sitting in a room and talking about what scares them, and where they are coming from with their beliefs, if they would reach a mutual respect for one another or if it would just end up in a screaming match.

    While that might be unlikely, civil discussion about all aspect of important issues (ideally) should not be so hostile, and should allow a level of safety. By that I mean if people feel like they are able to have an actual conversation, without holding back, I think a lot more would be accomplished. However, many times, everyone is very afraid to offend anyone, be accused of something, etc. so they don’t ever say what they have to say.

  8. I couldn’t agree more with the words of the article, because I truly do believe the only thing to fear is fear itself. Fear is the only thing holding us back from accomplishing great things that we want to do, but its fear that stops us from doing that one thing we may have been wanting to do for a while, but then a small doubt enters your mind and makes you question the entire act. The truth is that no one successful has gotten to where they are at now by being comfortable and not opening themselves up to fear. As I have slowly come to understand this saying I am getting better at my everyday life of studying, working hard, and not quitting because the workload gets too much. I have many goals that I wish to achieve throughout my lifetime, but I can’t accomplish those goals without first understanding fear and knowing that it’s the only thing holding me back from accomplishing those goals I have set for myself. Fear should never be overlooked, but should also never be listened to because fear is there to hold you back from things you have never experienced, but you will never experience it if you never try. Were all meant to live our lives to the fullest because we only have one life and that life is not worth living in fear and not taking any chances before the time we have on this earth runs out.

  9. This post on Seth’s blog was one that really connected with me. It is so true, being almost more scared of other people seeing your fear than the thing itself. In society we were taught to be controlled and poised and that most will gravitate towards strength and bravery. Over my life, and through this post, I have found that bravery isn’t being fearless, but rather honest. One moment I think back to often occurred nearly six years ago. I had been competitively riding horses for eight years at that point. I had reached the level in my training where I would work with younger, greener horses that were still early on in their learning. There was this one pony, who despite his size, had more power in him than any other horse I had ridden. He always found a way to bolt, rear, swerve, or stop abruptly during lessons. Once he learned that I wasn’t coming off, he only tried harder. One December night I was working with him and my trainer along with another little girl who was riding with another instructor across the arena. She watched as my pony did every trick possible to get me on the ground. He succeeded- three times, and each time I got back on. I wanted to be strong for the little girl watching, despite being terrified on the inside, because I knew at one point- that girl was me. I managed to keep a firm hold on my emotions with a determined face, but after the little girl left and I was thrown for the fourth time in the span of 40 minutes. My trainer walked over to me while I was getting back into the saddle and asked if I was okay. I just started to cry. I told her that I was exhausted of pretending I wasn’t scared every week. And the pony knew that- he could sense my fear. In being honest and allowing myself to show emotion, I didn’t come across as weak or incapable, but rather real. From there, I was taught how to channel that fear without disposing of it. The moments I remember most as a little girl looking up to the older riders was the emotion they showed when their horse got hurt, or when they got frustrated- not the control they possessed in the saddle. Like this post suggests, keeping fear in will only suppress it and the potential you have. Where as if you admit that you aren’t completely fearless, you can learn that no one else if 100% secure all the time.

  10. Throughout our human life we have all experienced a sense of fear towards something or someone, and in today’s world if you say you haven’t, then it is considered normal because of the way our culture has related fear with failure. We’ve been taught to lie and suppress our fears then face them with resolve. I can admit that I’ve done this several times with things that I’m afraid of, and at the end of the day, I often ask myself why couldn’t I do this what held me back? It gives me a sense of regret and embarrassment because I was scared to try something that struck fear in me. For example, failure and rejection are some of the biggest reasons that cause people to be afraid to try new things. Sure, we experience an awful sensation when we fail and are rejected, but we can’t let these memories take control of our lives. In this life, we only live once, and death is the only thing certain, so we must make the most of it. If we allow fear to control our lives, then we will live full of regret and eventually end up with mental health problems. Warren Buffet is one of the most successful businessmen on the planet, but did you know that at one point in his life he was terrified to stand up and say his name out loud to the class. When he signed up for a public speaking course in an attempt to overcome his public speaking, he pulled out last minute because of the terror that was driven into his heart. At one point, he finally realized that it helped him back from his full potential, and he faced it head-on inspiring others to do the same. It is important to use our fear and channel it into something positive but never to let it control the choices we make in life.

  11. The short poem, “Afraid of Afraid” talks about how people react to their own fears. The poem starts off with the sentence, We’d probably be better off if we could simply say, “I’m afraid.” Telling yourself “I’m afraid” can often lead to you giving up on yourself before you even try. Simply telling yourself that you’re afraid is you taking the easy way out and assuming that you aren’t good enough. Fear is not always bad thing. In fact, there are some who would argue that fear is always a good thing. Fear is the thing that keeps us safe, makes us rethink our actions. Sometimes the fearful end up in better situations than the fearless due to the cautions that they take. However, letting fear dictate our lives does nothing good for us. In my opinion, the fear of failure is the most common fear that people have. People hate being told no. This often leads to them not trying or taking a chance because their afraid that they won’t be successful. They fear it so much that they would rather not try. Fear keeps us in our comfort zones. What many often overlook is that everyone is scared of at least something. Nobody is truly fearless. Personally, I use my fear to motivate me to do my best. In this sense, my fear is helping me, making me want to work as hard as I can. When you look at fear like this, you often don’t feel afraid at all. Instead of feeling fear, you feel the want and desire of success. You’re kind of tricking your mind to see fear differently. My favorite part of the poem is the part that says “Fear of being afraid keeps things on our to-do list forever, keeps important conversations from happening and shifts how we see our agency and leverage in the world.” This quote builds on how I said that not being overly fearful is important. Fear restricts us from being our best selves, Letting it control us is taking something from our lives that we not be able to get back.

  12. This post peaked my interest for multiple reasons. One of them is how we see pride applied to this concept. I can see how sometimes appearing fearful can also make you seem weak. A person’s ego can block them from truly being productive and doing what’s best. For example, instead of learning from someone, a person would rather block them out to prove they are smarter. They fear that the person giving the advice is trying to prove they are more intelligent than them. To elaborate, asking your colleagues for help may make you look indecisive and afraid. So what will the person do rather than asking for help? Make an uninformed decision which is counter productive.
    Another reason this piqued my interest is how this can apply to work in any field. When you’re in a team, a decision you’re making may be questionable. The thing about teams is that they are in every job. For example, in the medical field, in the office, in the factory, and much more. To truly be the most efficient and productive, we must block out all fear of mistakes and egos. They are not benefiting anyone and can harm the goal of any team doing their job.
    On the other hand, being afraid is a completely normal feeling. I like to be religious, and say God is the only man I fear. Mistakes, rejection, fear of seeming weak, is all part of being human. No one is exempt from these feelings. These emotions are what make us human. To be honest, being afraid shouldn’t be frowned upon.

  13. This article is without a doubt the best I have read so far. I totally agree with every word the author expresses. Fear is an evolutionary principle, useful for survival. That emotion makes us feel vulnerable and makes us feel in danger for justified or unjustified reasons. It can be a positive thing since it makes us stay alert and at the same time keeps us away from dangers and bad things. However, it can also be a negative thing as it can make us dependent on that something or someone to protect us. Fear plays a very important role in society since other emotions such as disgust, anger, revenge, and hatred are derived from it. This is why some governments have used fear as a weapon to manipulate their citizens. In my country, Colombia, fear is a recurrent emotion that many people experience on a daily basis. Throughout history, we have seen governments that do not mind lying to their citizens in moments of collective fear or scaring them with imaginary situations to make them increasingly vulnerable and submissive. In politics, when there is fear of giving an opinion, people resort to hiding behind a leader who gives them protection, without being aware that this same leader is the one who can create fear in those who follow him. These manipulation strategies always have an end and this is when the people who were deceived lose trust, not only in the government but also in the people who support these ideologies. Without trust, an insecure state will undermine cooperation and will subsequently affect democracy because there will be no reciprocity between the government and the ordinary state. Then, it is pertinent to ask when it is reasonable to be afraid. If it is truly based on a rational belief, that is, on accurate conceptions of what is right and what is wrong. Fear can keep us from reflecting on what the real problems are. The freedom to express our criticisms and disagreements about the decisions made by a government speaks to the public commitment we have as a nation. Without public engagement, the democratic progress of any country stagnates.

  14. This article is very interesting too me. This article explains how fear can factor into humans not accomplishing their goals in life. The author mentions that people do not want to admit to being afraid because being afraid is “failure”. Which is true but not at the same time. I believe that by admitting you are afraid of something in his world, that shows a weakness that you have to other people, so therefore people have an instinct to worry about telling other people that they are afraid. For example, if I were to tell my friends that I was afraid of spiders they can use that against me because that is a weakness to me. Another example can be the president saying that he is afraid of Russia, I mean the USA would go crazy, we would think that we have a frail/weak leader. So by that humans have instincts to not tell people that they “are afraid”. Just like how the article said the bravest leaders in this world are the people who are not worried about appearing as afraid. Also, people would rather not admit to being afraid rather than trying to make a change in their lives. In my opinion, humans can do whatever their mind is up to and the only thing that is stopping them is themselves. In conclusion, this proves that the factor of being afraid can contribute to humans not accomplishing their own goals in life.

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