Old fears and failures

I’d like you to do me a favor today.

It may not be easy. But bear with me.

I want you to think about something you’ve been afraid of for a long time.

Maybe you were embarrassed while speaking in front of your class at school, and you’ve always been afraid of public speaking.

Maybe you fell in love and were hurt badly and had your trust violated, so you are just not ready to try romance again.

Maybe you failed algebra and have decided you are just bad at math.

Or you tried to fix something in your house and broke it instead.

Or you made a bad investment and lost your money.

Or you asked your boss for a raise and got shouted at and told to stay in your place.

Or a dog bit you.


If you’ve been afraid for a long time, that means a lot of time has passed.

What has happened since whatever scarred you and scared you?

Well, for one thing, you’ve grown. You are smarter than you used to be. You’re not a child any more. You’re not an adolescent. You’re not a student. You’ve been living all these years and gaining experience.

Think back, not to what made you have fear, but to who you were back then. We can all look back at our younger selves and say, “Hey, nice kid, sure, but I’ve grown since then.”

Now think about what you’re afraid of. At work, you’ve probably had to speak in front of a few people. You had somebody flirt with you. You did the arithmetic to figure out the tip at the restaurant. Maybe you even met a nice dog.

You are no longer who you were. What you are afraid of is no longer what you used to be afraid of.

How much time and effort and emotion have you spent hiding and avoiding? Go ahead, think about it.

Was it worth it?

Reevaluate the equation of you versus your fear now. Because neither you nor what you fear are the same. It’s time to rethink your habitual aversion.

What’s the safest way you could try doing what you always avoid doing?

What’s the worst that would happen?

What’s the emotional cost of trying it once — and how does that compare to the cost of avoiding it forever?

I look forward to hearing how you succeeded.

Because this is how growth happens.

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  1. I have always been afraid of living alone. But with the help of a “village” it is manageable and sometimes pleasant.