The Two Types of Fear (and Which One You Should Conquer Now)

In The Master Key System, Charles F. Haanel repeatedly wrote about fear. In Week Three we find

14. Nonresistant thought expands the Solar Plexus; resistant thought contracts it. Pleasant thought expands it; unpleasant thought contracts it. Thoughts of courage, power, confidence, and hope all produce a corresponding state, but the one arch enemy of the Solar Plexus which must be absolutely destroyed before there is any possibility of letting any light shine is fear. This enemy must be completely destroyed; he must be eliminated; he must be expelled forever; he is the cloud which hides the sun which causes a perpetual gloom.

15. It is this personal devil which makes men fear the past, the present, and the future; fear themselves, their friends, and their enemies; fear everything and everybody. When fear is effectually and completely destroyed, your light will shine, the clouds will disperse, and you will have found the source of power, energy, and life.

It is my contention that there are two types of fear: irrational and rational. (This differentiation also applies to all of the emotions that we feel from happiness to sadness, confidence to doubt.)

Irrational fear is the kind of fear about which Haanel writes. It is the deep-seated, unthinking, non-reflective fear that takes hold of us, that tries to dissuade us from our goals and plans, that paralyzes us. In the extreme form they are often referred to as phobias. In the forms in which we are most familiar, they manifest as nagging, unconscious doubts that keep us in a place of inaction.

You must first have the knowledge of your power; second, the courage to dare; third, the faith to do.
You must first have the knowledge of your power; second, the courage to dare; third, the faith to do.

These are the fears that Haanel implores us to “destroy.”

More often than not, these fears can be assuaged just by doing the activity or facing the thing that we fear. Sometimes, other methods are necessary, especially in the case if the fear has developed into a phobia.

Rational fears are those fears that we face every day and they are, in most cases, perfectly fine and normal. Sometimes they are an alert or warning mechanism, as in when we sense that something isn’t right, either with a person or a place. Other times they are useful if we are making plans for something: the fear of things going awry will impel us to check and double-check, to rehearse, to practice, to pay attention.

As we used to say when I was in Toastmasters before giving a speech, the goal isn’t to get rid of the butterflies in one’s stomach, it is to make them fly in formation!

There is a very good reason why I make this important differentiation regarding fear. I have found with myself and with my Master Key Mentoring clients that far too often, we use not only the fear, but the quest to eliminate all fear as a crutch, which stalls us from taking the action necessary to attain our goals. They want to wait until they are comfortable before they begin taking action, not knowing that chances are very likely that they will only feel comfortable once they get into play.

Stop questing for “perfection.” It’s not there. As you do, as you face your fears, as you plow through them, then and only then will you conquer them.

We all worry. We all doubt. We all harbor fears. Sometimes they help us. They should never stop us, though — either by themselves or by us wasting our time trying to eliminate them completely.