Letters To Seneca – Letter 12

Dear Seneca,

In life, we all have irrational fears. Some are afraid of flying, some are nuclear, and others fear pursuing the wrong career or relationship.

The reason something is irrational depends on the context of where that fear sits, but I can think of two reasons for the creation of this fear.

  1. Lack of understanding: Fears such as flying and nuclear are based on false stories we tell ourselves and each other. For example, nuclear fission is labeled as dangerous due to radiation, but when compared to other forms of energy, it’s by far one of the safest. This same thought pattern applies to airplanes. And yes… I still get scared when turbulence hits.
  2. Lack of confidence: When it comes to fearing the wrong careers or relationships, this comes down to the confidence to reflect and take action. Most of you (if not all) have the power to make a change in this context, by simply ending the relationship with your employer or partner. I’d personally recommend ensuring you have a backup plan for the career scenario, but that too is also based on context.

Another precursor activity before these fears building up in one’s mind is a lack of self-awareness. If you’re falling into this trap of irrational fear there’s a chance you’ve been ignoring your thoughts, not observing them as we all should. This practice of observing one’s thoughts is a lifelong practice, one that I’m still working on and will continue to do so until the end.

One practice I rely on in moments of uncertainty and likely irrational fear is journaling. Taking the time to sit down and put my thoughts to paper has been a big help in filtering out false stories and reality. Know that I’m not just writing my thoughts on paper, but actively debating myself along the way.

For example, I’ll write down my thoughts, then immediately ask probing questions about each thought, intentionally playing devil’s advocate to ensure I see opposite perspectives. This is my approach, I’m sure there are many others out there.

The takeaway I want you to have Seneca, is that irrational fears bombard us every day, it’s our duty to filter out the nonsense, only keeping what’s reality. Once filtered it’s time we take action.