A Study In Managing Fear

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For today’s column I want to talk about fear. I’m not sure where I read about the study but some years ago University of Michigan did a study about fear.

I tried to find information on that study on the Internet, but I haven’t been successful. Perhaps one of you can find it if you are curious.

One of the most interesting parts of the study that I remember has to do with the 1% of fears that we can’t do anything about. In particular they have to do with mortality. At some point the Grim Reaper will knock on our door to settle accounts and, you might say, we are stuck with the outcome.

The other 99% of the fears we encounter throughout our lives, according to the Michigan University study, can either be overcome, or managed in some way.

Let me give you an example from personal experience. I am an introvert. Given a choice I would hide in my office, spend time with my computer, enjoy the interactions with my wife, and in general, to myself.

There have been times in my life, however, when I’ve had to speak in front of groups. Not a fun experience. In spite of the fact that I’m a reasonably good actor and I can project a sense of self confidence and self-assurance, I would rather be offstage somewhere throwing up.

To deal with this situation, I use the advice of one of my old college instructors. He taught six classes a day for over 20 years and admitted to a nearly paralyzing feeling of stage fright, which he had to overcome every morning.

He did it by reminding himself that he knew more about physics than his students. He convinced himself that no matter how smart his students think they are he knows even more than they do.

His advice has helped me survive teaching television and radio production, self-hypnosis classes, journalism and creative writing classes, and the occasional opportunity to introduce somebody else.

If my memory of the fear study is correct, our fears can be managed by working around them creatively. I’m not convinced that they go away completely. I think there lurking somewhere, waiting to pounce when we least expect it.

© 2015, Moody Publishing Co., LLC

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