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Rethinking Fear

Anxiety is not the same as fear

Anxiety (as opposed to fear) is always caused by uncertainty - the uncertainty of ultimately, by the forecasts we make, but in which we have little to no confidence.

Forecasts with high confidence free you to respond, adjust, feel sadness, accept, prepare, or to do whatever is needed. Accordingly, anxiety is reduced by improving your prediction capacity, thus increasing your certainty.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Rethinking Fear

Rethinking Fear

https://fs.blog/2020/05/rethinking-fear/

fs.blog

5

Key Ideas

Seneca

Seneca

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”

Being afraid won't keep us safe

We misunderstand the value of fear when we think that being constantly hypervigilant will keep us safe.

Being afraid all the time doesn’t keep danger away from us. Instead, we need to learn to recognize key signals that could predict risk, in order to actually feel calmer and safer.

Picking up the real signals

When we walk around terrified all the time, we can’t pick out the signal from the noise.

If you’re constantly scared, you can’t correctly notice when there is something genuine to fear
. True fear is a momentary signal, not an ongoing state.

Anxiety is not the same as fear

Anxiety (as opposed to fear) is always caused by uncertainty - the uncertainty of ultimately, by the forecasts we make, but in which we have little to no confidence.

Forecasts with high confidence free you to respond, adjust, feel sadness, accept, prepare, or to do whatever is needed. Accordingly, anxiety is reduced by improving your prediction capacity, thus increasing your certainty.

Using fear

We’ll be in a better position when we'll be able to approach potential dangers with a calm mind, very vigilant to our internal signals but not anticipating every possible bad thing that could happen.

We don’t need to live in fear to stay safe. A better approach is to be aware of the risks we face, accept that some are unknown or unpredictable, and do all we can to be prepared for any serious or imminent dangers.

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Evaluate Risk Level

Just because something feels scary, doesn’t mean it’s actually risky. Educate yourself about the facts and the risks you actually face by doing the things that scare you. 

Create an Action Plan

The key to facing your fears is to take one small step at a time. Going too fast or doing something too scary before you are ready can backfire.

Keep moving forward. A moderate amount of anxiety is good. Don’t wait to take a step forward until your anxiety disappears.

If you can’t actually do the thing that scares you to practice, you might use imagined exposure. 

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Risk Compensation
Risk Compensation

Risk protection is normally done to minimize the harm a particular activity can do to us. There are various things we do to reduce our risk, to make ourselves safer.

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Risk Compensation Effects
  • When automobile safety laws were introduced, the drivers started taking more risks while driving, leading to more pedestrian accidents.
  • Children (and even adults) take more physical risks while playing a sport with protective gear.
  • Safety features like Anti-lock brakes in vehicles ended up increasing the accidents for taxi drivers in Germany
  • Child-proof caps on medicine bottles made parents careless about their being opened by kids, including the ones which don’t have the safety feature.
The Carelessness Effect

Having a safety device in place, and armed with the knowledge that we can push the envelope a bit, the appetite for risk increases.

  • People who have an emergency fund in place tend to be less careful about their investments.
  • People wearing a face-mask in this global pandemic feel like they are safer in crowded places (It’s a face mask, not an Iron Man suit).

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The fear of regret

Being afraid of regret is a powerful driver of maintaining the status quo in our lives.

The “disposition effect”

It's a bias related to money and it describes how investors hold on tight to losing assets. The driving force behind this behavior is our fear of regret.

It shows we are very hesitant to sell an asset at a loss and we tend to hang on to it as it keeps dropping in value, hoping it will pick up again.

The “sunk cost bias”

When starting new projects, we tend to have high expectations of them doing well. We put a big amount of effort into them and even if see they don't go that well, we still choose not to opt-out. Instead, we hang on them longer, because we feel regret of leaving a project before it materializes.

We therefore fall into the trap of irrationally hanging on to it in order to avoid regret temporarily. 

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