“Normal fear protects us; abnormal fear paralyzes us. Normal fear motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare; abnormal fear constantly poisons and distorts our inner lives.”
– Martin Luther King
Imagine that you’re hiking in the woods.
You turn a corner and there’s a bear on the path in front of you.
Your body responds with a rush of adrenaline.
This is part of the body’s fear response; it’s your signal that there is danger around you and you’d be wise to take preventative measures. (In this specific case, hold your ground and make loud noises. Running is not a good idea. The bear is likely to chase you.)
This fear is normal. It is designed to protect you.
However, events that lead to this this kind of normal fear are rare.
There really aren’t that many bears — real or metaphorical — in our lives.
The truth is that the vast majority of our fears (99.5%) fall into what Dr. King called abnormal fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of losing something. Fear of what someone else thinks.
Here’s the rub: Abnormal fear can start to feel a lot like normal fear. Adrenaline. Butterflies. Anxiety. Worry. Self-Doubt. All the way up to paralysis.
In the presence of such powerful feelings and emotions, we shrink. We stay stuck. We repel our desires.
What to do?
Abnormal fears are only thoughts that have been practiced over and over. Practice this way enough, and eventually you become “wired” for fear. It becomes a default response.
You begin to see bears where there are no bears.
The solution is to become aware of this habit, and to decide to begin the practice of upgrading your thoughts.
Any one can do it.
You just need to be willing to set your bears free and do something about it.