Futile Fear & Legitimate Concern
Fear is the main source of superstition,
and one of the main sources of cruelty.
To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
– Bertrand Russell
I found that identifying my own fears, and understanding different sources of fear, I began to unravel the mystery of my own anxiety disorder.
In this chapter I explore the differences between legitimate concern, and futile fear, as well as how to differentiate between the two.
Usually, people don’t even want to think about their fears, or the affect their fear has on them. But, before you can begin to create your practical peace, you need to understand the sources of your fear. You don’t have to eliminate all your fears now. You just need to be aware of them.
Also, in this chapter, I’ll introduce one of my exercises for reducing stress, and share some of my beliefs regarding inherited fear, fear for control, and fear as a commodity.
Fear is a valid emotion when a bus is speeding straight at you in the wrong lane. Saving your life, or someone else’s life, is a good reason to get your heart pounding, your sweat glands pumping, and your body moving.
However, fear is useless in any other situation. Some would argue that fear is useless in ALL situations. But, I believe a moderate level of “legitimate concern” can be healthy, as long as you keep balance in your life. Have you watched what happens to people when they have absolutely no fear? Not always a pretty sight.
What I work against is futile fear. Futile fear equates to anxiety, and your anxiety needs to be curtailed if you want to set yourself free of stress, and truly live in a state of peace. This is why I’ve started with a chapter on reducing your futile fear, or completely eliminating the annoying emotion, all together.
Any time you fear something you can’t control, you are entertaining futile fear. It’s unfortunately a common human condition. I know, from personal experience, that stopping unfounded fear is easier said then done. But, it can be done. Even if you suffer from extreme anxiety, due to runaway fear, your condition can be treated quickly and successfully.
You can find instant relief with counseling, medical attention, and if necessary, non-addictive medications. But, my favorite way of overcoming futile fear, is by gaining knowledge. Getting help from professionals, and reading books similar to this one, can help you let go of your futile fear.
If you are one of those people suffering from anxiety, take a deep breath — and read on for some good news. I want you to know that you are not alone. What you are going through is very common, but the keywords here are, “going through”. Your anxiety is a temporary state of mind. The sooner you realize your fear is unfounded, and controllable, the sooner your anxious thoughts will begin to dissipate.
A legitimate concern would be concern about something you can control. Legitimate concern can be healthy, as long as it doesn’t graduate to futile fear.
For example, being concerned about a sudden loss of monthly income (fired, laid off, or out of business) is reasonable, as long as you take action to rectify the situation — while at the same time, you understand that it’s a temporary set back. If you spend time worrying about a possible loss of income, then you’re entertaining futile fear.
In short, legitimate concern is concern regarding a real situation, where action can be taken to improve the situation.