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Fear is an emotion that has been bred into our genetic being because our ancestors who possessed the right degree of fear for the summation of their lifelong situation had the children that themselves became our ancestors too. Those situations where the emotion of fear will promote our survival should be respected, and wherever there are situations where fear is counterproductive and where it will interfere with our best actions, we should ignore the emotion. Therefore, we need some analysis of how to use our fear wisely. Watch this Dean Potter YouTube documentary to observe how a physically gifted man copes with his fear, doing extremely risky things that are well beyond the abilities of every other human on Earth. Last week he miscalculated and got himself killed without leaving any children, and therefore he will get a Darwin Award for taking himself and his genes out of the human gene pool. This type of fear is conquered by this kind of person with thoughts like, Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will allow my fear to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone I will turn my inner eye to see its path. And where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. Frank Herbert – Dune

There are other people equally driven by fear of a very different sort, and one of them, Kelsey Collins, was a friend of mine, until she took her own life a few weeks ago. She and Potter both had seemingly ideal lives. They had a multitude of admirers, they were greatly respected in their chosen occupation, they had beautiful homes and no debts, both were self-professed loners, and both had lost their loved ones a few years previously.

There are other people who live more ordinary lives than those two, but they live with constant anxiety that prevents them from rising above the most mundane of life activities. That is more common; they are unadventurous, and avoid even speaking before a group of a few people, because of their fear of being censored. They take their fear in small doses, but they become afflicted with stomach ulcers  and high blood pressure. It’s like the fear of wild things that lurk in the night, which long ago were very real, but today those predators are gone, and only the anxiety remains. We need to face our fears directly, because when we do so nearly all of them will vanish, and only the real ones will remain. When we see those clearly we can spend our energy coping realistically with them, and live more contented lives. Fear can be a good emotion or very bad, because it drives you to be sensible.

Don’t take unnecessary risks, and don’t ignore real ones.