It is a decision-making tool for risky situations. The main point is that visualizing the worst-case scenarios lets you manage them rationally.

There are 3 stages in fear-setting for any decision:

  • Defining fears
  • Predicting the benefits of attempting an action
  • Calculating the costs of doing nothing.
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Self Improvement

Fear-Setting: How to Define Your Fears


Stoics preferred to control fears and desires, rather than being their prisoners.

That led them to visualize worst-case scenarios in detail, in order to control them.

We are risk-averse by nature, and we're also imaginative. That gives us the capacity to overthink our fears until they become way worse than truth.

The act of defining fears gets the worst-case scenario on the page. And in most cases, it’s not as bad as we thought, or as likely.

  • Fear-setting is for any decision that’s causing you stress.
  • It’s a way to stop fears from preventing success and spiraling out of control. 
  • Fear-setting doesn’t work if you’re not honest.
  • We like to keep things the same. And keeping things the same usually seems like the safest play. But that's not true.
  • Every choice comes with costs. So when you choose to keep things just as they are, you give up the benefits of everything else.
  • You have to count the costs of doing nothing.

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