Did you know that 60% of the things that people fear and worry about will never come true?
And when analysed, 90% of these things that cause so much fear and worry, are actually considered to be pretty insignificant issues?
But even when it comes to more serious worries, like health related fears, it has been found that 88% of these will also never take place. And I wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that the severity of those health issues that did occur - the 12%, were never as bad as the person had imagined...
I’m sure you can guess then that the number one fear for the Americans surveyed (74% of them), is in fact public speaking. As Jerry Seinfeld so eloquently put it:
“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
I can understand why ‘dying' is a fear of 68% of Americans. Generally speaking, people don’t want to leave this earth in an unexpected manner, or before what they would consider 'their time’. For those who believe in life after death perhaps it’s not so prevalent, but ultimately the fear of death is really that people fear 'the loss of who they are'.
But what is truly at the root of the fear of public speaking? Fear of failure? Fear of not being good enough? Fear of what other people might think, or how they might judge? Fear of embarrassment in public?
When you truly get to the root of all of these things, could it be possible that people who fear public speaking fear 'the loss of who they think they are’? Through public embarrassment, judgement and the resulting shame, people lose their grasp on who they thought they were - they get found out as a fraud. The image and facade of who they think they are dies in a public failure.
A fate considered worse than actual death.
The similarities are eye-opening, but it doesn’t end here. These may be two of the most extreme examples of how fear creates a phobia, but it goes much deeper into our lives. In fact the fear completely controls our life...
Can you see how the fear of losing the ’security of life as we know it’ is used to fuel tighter terrorism laws and inhumane immigration policy?
Can you see how the fear of failure or of losing everything you own is used to fuel the illusion of safety in a traditional j.o.b. and stops people from pursuing self-employment?
Can you see how the fear of not being good enough or of losing your self-image is used to fuel an unhealthy obsession with fast fashion that is choking our earth?
Can you see how the fear of getting ill or of losing your health is used to fuel excessive purchasing of ‘fake health foods’, drugs, and unnecessary pharmaceuticals?
And can you see how all these fears represent a threat to the way you see yourself, your own sense of who you think you are - your own sense of self?
This fundamental fear of ‘losing who we think we are’, is the origin of all the fears that run our lives. It is used to ‘tame’ us, keep us ’small’, and 'in our place’ within the foundations of what makes up ‘civilisation’ - politics, law, media, shopping, education, employment, finance - so much so that it dictates almost all our actions, our decisions and our thoughts for the majority of our days on this planet.
We are the consumer and not the brand. We are the employee and not the corporation. We are the citizen and not the law. We are the student and not the knowledge. We are the voter and not the political system. And there are unspoken (and spoken) rules about how we must fulfil our roles in this world.
This fear of losing our sense of self conditions us into thinking that the world works in a very specific way. And that we must behave within it in a very specific way to ensure our survival.
This fear is like a thick fog that blankets our world. It permeates every home and building. It infiltrates every nook and cranny. It suffocates every free thought or action. And it is so ever-present in every part of our life that we can’t even see it.
Until we do see it...
It is in seeing the fog and noticing the ever-present fear, that we can stop being controlled by it.
Because the truth of it all is that there is absolutely nothing that can cause you to lose your true sense of self - because who you think you are right now, is all an illusion anyway.
YOU the ‘tamed’ one, the one who falsely believes she needs to look a certain way, act a certain way, think a certain way, and speak a certain way - is not who you really are anyway.
The YOU at the soul of it all, is truly a ‘wild one’, the one who knows her true path in life, who knows that it doesn’t really matter how she chooses to look, who knows what really makes her come alive, and who knows that the only moment she’ll ever have is the one she is in right now.
In a world where fear rules everything, YOU - the ‘wild’ one underneath those skin and bones, knows that the path forward is to simply face the fears - all of them and just get on with living the life you want to live.