I think it’s difficult to admit to ourselves that we have many fears. I think many of us on HE aspire to be fearless, but I certainly am not there yet. I think it’s a very useful exercise to try to list our your fears because it makes the shadow side of your personality more visible. It can also help you to gain a new perspective on your fears or to gain a bit of distance/detachment from them.
Your fears are not flaws or shortcomings. They are an oh-so-human thing that all of us have. Sometimes I try to view my own psyche from an almost scientific perspective — like I’m an anthropologist studying the psychological effects of a particular culture. It seems easier to accept our particular mental baggage when we can view it as an “interesting phenomena” that we’re trying to observe and understand, rather than something that must reflect negatively on our character.
Anyway, here’s a list I made recently of some fears I think I have on some level. I feel that many of these have been greatly diminished over the last few years, but there are probably traces of all of them still operating within me. Simply creating this list was pretty powerful and I think has helped me to further let go of some of these, know myself a bit better, and cultivate some self-compassion. Curious to see other people’s lists or to hear anyone else’s thoughts on fear.
1. Fear of missing out
2. Fear of living an “ordinary” life
3. Fear of wasting time, of not living life to the fullest (related to #2)
4. Fear of not taking full advantage of the moment — “sure, I could just eat dinner, but why not eat dinner while stoned listening to music and reading Twitter?”
5. Fear of not being perceived as cool, relevant, smart, successful, attractive, hip, etc
6. Fear of working hard on something important and failing
7. Fear of not being good enough
8. Fear of negative emotional states
9. Fear of not being free, not being in control of my destiny
10. Fear of how much I might be capable of if I tapped into my greatest potentialities
11. Fear of the human condition, of the dark side of our nature and of death
12. Fear of being a “bad” person; fear that past actions of mine make me a “bad” person
13. Fear of letting go of past identities/versions of myself in which I find comfort — “party self,” “fun guy,” etc
14. Fear of being perceived as lame, basic, unwise, uninteresting, conventional, boring, not-fun, old, prudish, inexperienced, amateurish, uninitiated, uninspired, unenergetic, monotone, average, etc
15. Fear of being disliked, rejected, hated, dismissed, scoffed at
16. Fear of being seen as too rigid, traditional, lacking in spontaneity, boldness, and a sense of adventure
17. Fear of being imperfect or inauthentic
18. Fear of being wrong or dumb
19. Fear of dating someone whose views or behavior will reflect negatively on me in some way; fear of others judging any romantic partner of mine as unlikeable, undesirable, “trashy,” annoying, or other negative things
Another thing I notice is that all of these fears seem to exist on the flip side of some kind of desire. Because I desire X, I fear not-X. This seems like a good reason to work toward letting go of unnecessary desires, as Buddhism encourages. Easier said than done for sure.
I think some of the biggest things that have helped me to greatly diminish many of these fears have been:
1) Traveling abroad
3) Learning to see ambiguity everywhere
4) Making art
I can elaborate more on how I think those things helped me if people are curious. Peace, everyone.
I can relate to many of those fears, if not all of them.
Personally, I’d throw insects on the end of that list, Spiders and centipedes man.. Freaky ass creatures.
Now, I’m curious.. When you say traveling abroad, do you mean living in a certain location for a while, or staying mobile during your travels? I have this dream of traveling the world on foot with little to no money, writing, developing/managing my own website(s), creating music and such along the way.
I have yet to find anyone on HighExistence who has done something like this, so I figured I’d ask the details of your travels to see if your experience was anything similar to what I just described.
hahah, very similar actually. these two articles of mine on HE will give you more details on what i’ve done the last couple years and how to potentially earn a living while traveling by working abroad or online, if you’re curious:
i haven’t really traveled on foot, per se. i mean, i’ve walked a hell of a lot in a lot of foreign countries, but i’ve tended to take buses, trains, and planes to cover long distances quickly. i would also like to just walk and/or hitchhike for a while at some point. and i’ve been developing and managing HE as well as my other blog, Refine The Mind, while traveling. i also make rap music as LOSTBOYEVSKY.
so yeah, seems what i’m doing has a lot in common with your vision. happy to help you make it a reality in any way that i can.
Pretty much everything you listed here, I have felt at some point.
The most persistent fear I think I have is a type of subconscious thing that is almost always there that I’m not doing as much as I could be with life in terms of experiencing/impacting. It’s a fear of not getting the most out of this short existence or being the self I’m capable of. And as Zaddirak so aptly stated, fuckin spiders man. Sure the thought of dying a slow painful death is frightening but my fear of spiders trumps all.
it’s actually profoundly comforting to know that i am not alone in my experiences, so thank you, Ellie. : ]
and i can relate to your persistent unconscious fear of not experiencing/impacting enough, of not being the self you’re capable of being. i feel like that fear is still pretty present for me too, though maybe it’s diminished somewhat as i’ve actually gone out and really experienced a wide spectrum of what this world has to offer and poured a lot of time and energy into projects that serve the double-purpose of working toward self-actualization while (hopefully) helping others.
ultimately, this fear seems like a cognitive trap — an un-win-able game that we’re coerced into playing by our own neurotic unconscious machinery. because, no matter how much we experience, no matter how much we do, no matter how much of an impact we make, there’s always theoretically so much more we could experience/do. even someone like elon musk who has already impacted millions of people and possibly adjusted the trajectory of the human enterprise by some non-negligible percentage (an unfathomable feat for a single human) is still thinking about how much more he can do (get us to Mars, etc).
when will it be enough?
maybe to some extent this fear/anxiety is useful because it prompts us to experience and do more and help more, but if we never reach a point where we feel content or at peace with who we already are, what’s the point? it’s definitely tough, and i don’t know that i have good answers. i guess what i’m trying to do these days is to appreciate all that i’ve already been and experienced and created, all the love and useful thoughts i’ve hopefully spread in the world, and to see that stuff as enough. while of course still continuing to experience and do more things because . . . i’m alive and that’s what the living do! trying to learn to live in that paradox, i guess.
anyway, thanks for chiming in. sending you a digital hug. : ]
I notice a lot of the fears you listed have to do with being judged by others, and I find that this is so relative to a persons life experience whether they get you enough in the moment to approve of you. I think what I fear most has a lot to do with this and being misunderstood when I reveal my self in the moment. Fear of being too much or not enough is why I think we all hide our selves. But I feel that people who find our natural self to be inappropriate in some way just aren’t truly relevant to us.
Not sure why but I feel like sharing that I experienced a lot of social isolation growing up because my parents sent me to a small religious school with only three people in my class, one of them being severely autistic. A lot of my personal fears have to do with PTSD from experiencing so much rejection and feelings of irrelevance to other people my age and all of the adults strangling me with Catholic dogma, and also my baby brothers being given a lot more social attention than me. My first real boyfriend was someone who went out of his way to show people he didn’t care what they thought by being very offbeat and flamboyant. There were a lot of other experiences I had in my formative years that didn’t give me the social safety of being approved of, and I think it did a lot to make me a little more courageous at being my self. In conclusion really it’s true that those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind, and our own approval is always warranted given the circumstances that only you went through. A lot of our fears are just so unimportant to what we really need to let shine from our selves.
….on the future
Hi everyone :). I’m fairly new to this site and i must admit i’ve seen so many insightful posts that i wish i’d discovered HE sooner. I’d say that i relate mostly to fears no.1,2,4 and 14 but most of all no.2. It keeps me up nights. I grew up your typical conformist until my early teenage years when i began to challenge things like religion and society. Currently i’m in my last year of high school and everyone keeps asking me “So,what do you plan on doing in university?” or what career path i want to take. I hate it! Where i’m from (Nairobi,Kenya) people have such linear perspectives of what the human experience should be like….I mean like people are so trapped in the system that they’d never dare to contemplate things like atheism or unemployed nomadism. It’s birth- Pre school-Primary school- High School-University-Working Life- Retirement- Death. I can’t live like that but sadly i’ve grown up aspiring wealth, sports cars, mansions and a lavish lifestyle that i feel trapped too and i’m scared that if i follow my passions (Philosophy,Writing,History) i won’t be able to get a job, make money, travel and see the world. The more books and articles i read the more i’m motivated to leave “the herd” but my mind is way too conflicted to pick a path. It’d mean the world to me if any of y’all who feel like they’ve been in the same boat could chip in some insights and enlighten me. Thank you and have a great day all!
1. i put “ordinary” in quotes because i’ve come to believe that there’s no such thing as an ordinary life. life is extraordinary at all times, if you are “enough of a poet to call forth its riches,” as Rilke put it. even the seemingly mundane is full of wonder. this is one of the most valuable lessons i’ve learned and continue to learn. do with it what you will. and never judge harshly those who choose to live “ordinary” lives (not saying you were).
2. do what you can to let go of that desire for large wealth, sports cars, mansions, lavishness, etc. if what you say is true about your true passions being writing, travel, and studying philosophy and history, then those activities alone should be enough to fulfill you. once you’ve let go of the need for all of that stuff, you will find yourself with a *lot* more options for doing the things of which you dream. i recommend reading this article and this article if you haven’t. WWOOFing might be a good option for you to start.
3. i used to feel that i was “way too conflicted to pick a path.” turns out i was way off in thinking that i needed to choose a single path at a young age. you’re in high school, man. chillllllllllllllllllllll. like, chill hard. deep breath. it’s totally cool not to know that shit right now. it’s okay to not know that shit when you’re 50. what you need is to actually go *do* things and *have experiences*. that will show you what moves/excites you, or at the very least it will show you what doesn’t move/excite you. as you go do things, the next step in your path will gradually become clear in its own organic way. never feel that you *need* to have a plan for anymore than the next 6 months to a year of your life. that’s about where i’m at, at least. some would tell you that you don’t need a plan for more than the next few hours. forget plans, but *do* optimize for at least a base level of safety and the ability to live healthily. those things are important.
hope this helps in some way.
I must say, I fear of disappointing the ones I love.
They’re great people, but they fail to recognize where I’m coming from when I say that I want to travel the world, living a life of minimalism..
Isn’t it dangerous?
How will you eat?
Where will you sleep?
Aren’t you unprepared?
Well, they won’t like the answers to these questions, so I never actually answer. As a result, they assume I’m lost, clueless and confused as to if whether or not it’s what I actually want.
My entire life I was told that I can be whatever I want to be and can accomplish anything.. But now that I’m on the verge of adulthood, home-schooled, jobless and about to lose my license, I’m seen as a bit of a loser by my parents. They no longer value my aspirations as they did when I was younger- because they’re real. They can no longer say, “He’ll grow out of it,” because I’ve grown right into it.
While I can agree that I’m losing in life a little, I can at least say that I’m learning- I read, research and explore my mind in every way possible. I will use this period of isolated learning and self-development to my advantage in the near future when I get living my life the way I want to!
But, as of now, I’m juggling court dates, school and the need to satisfy my parents.
I’m left wondering what’s next.. Will I end up juggling work, transportation and taxes.. or will be I walking down the road, too busy embracing every step to “nowhere” that I forget that the possibility of living such a confined life even existed?
Who knows.. I’m being swept away by the currents of my entirely disadvantageous cognitive momentum.
i know that fear, man. i’m grateful that my parents have been as supportive as they have over the years, though. they’ve continued to encourage me to do what i love into adulthood, but i’ve still worried about disappointing them a fair bit over the years. i’m sorry to hear about your situation. : /
one tried and true way of showing them that you do know what you’re doing is to go out and make it happen. become totally self-sufficient, go travel for a while, and don’t die, basically, hah. taking off is easier said than done, for sure. going to teach English in South Korea was an important step for me because it was a very legitimate job that paid the bills while also allowing to pursue my dreams of traveling. taught me a ton that i’ve used to travel in other ways since then. you might try finding some kind of work abroad before attempting to just take off on foot with no plan. teaching English or WWOOFing might be great options for you. probably better to ease yourself into such a lifestyle. but hey, what do i know, maybe diving in full bore is a better route.
I see where our coming from bro, i’ve been atheist the last 3 years and i’m afraid to tell my parents cause i fear they’ll never look at me the same. I hate having to lie about wanting a career in business when in truth i resent the shit and all i wanna do buy a Volkswagen vanagon and just go……I want to redefine human experience contrary to what most people believe and escape living a confined life like you said. I recently saw Into the Wild and it inspired the fuck out of me. All the best man, and i hope you beat your dilemma and come out laughing.
Thanks for the kind words man!
I don’t believe or have faith in any specific religion, but I absolutely love learning from them and still consider the existence of religion to be possible. I can’t discard such a hazy concept, with such little proof for or against its existence.
With that said, I can relate a little bit to what you said because my parents are Christians, while I am not. I kind of slowly worked it into their minds that I’m not religious anymore, by hinting at it throughout conversations about religion.
(I’m lucky enough to have a father that will discuss such topics with me, without judgement.. For the most part- he gets a little defensive and hostile when I say something that contradicts CERTAIN beliefs of his.)
Onto the topic of traveling!
Right now, I want to travel on foot because I have no money! If I had several grand, I’d remodel a van or bus into the most badass mobile home ever, for sure!
Believe it or not, Into The Wild was not only one of the most inspiring films I’ve ever seen, but my favorite of all time. It’s part of my list of movies, on my HE profile!
Not sure where you live.. But I’m from the US. If you ever want a travel partner, shoot me a message. Haha
Have a good day man!
Note: This film is a little different- well, a lot different.. But you should check out The East. I actually just wrote a whole description for the film.. But I backspaced that motherfucker into oblivion. I prefer you just watch it without reading about it or seeing a trailer, as I did!
Getting raped in the ass, spiders and snakes, heights
the kind of shit that could potentially fuck up your ability to practice any sort of spirituality for life
I watched a gif of a monkey using a living frog’s mouth to masturbate into and my heart sank.. comment section thought it was funny and I’m just like god damnit…
Hi guys, I just wanted to state my fears:
1.- Fear of not being an interesting person
2.- Fear that the things I say are not funny or are out of place
3.- Fear of becoming boring and lose my young self
4.- Fear of being judged
5.- Fear of taking important decisions that will have a huge impact on my life
6.- Fear of myself, that my thoughts can offend the people around me
Jordan, I used to smoke weed and I enjoyed it a lot I had really good trips about life, but at some point I became afraid of it because of all the thoughts it brought to my mind, I sometimes feel that I can’t control them or star having paranoias about what the people around me are thinking or how do I look, Am I doing something strange? that kind of stuff. You say that psychedelics have help you somehow and I would like to try them as well but I’m afraid of doing them because if I have all these bad trips with weed I don’t want to imagine with LSD. Do you have any advice?
I know a lot of people for whom cannabis causes anxiety. I’ve experienced this plenty of times myself, as well as the social paranoia you describe. However, that’s the exception and not the rule. I’ve smoked cannabis several thousand times probably, and I’d say I’ve only had negative experiences ~1% of the time. I actually came to view the anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts caused by cannabis as a challenge to learn how to be okay with whatever thoughts were crossing through my mind — to view them detachedly, with curiosity, compassion, and a sense of humor. Learning to do this has been invaluable for me.
It’s possible that psychedelics aren’t for you if cannabis causes you severe anxiety. However, I’ve also read accounts of people who swear that they can’t tolerate cannabis but have amazing psychedelic experiences with shrooms/LSD. If you’re going to try tripping, definitely avoid smoking cannabis during your trip. Start with a very small amount and see how that affects you. Follow the other tips on this list.
FYI, I think psychedelics helped me overcome fear in two ways:
1) By showing me that the world is absolutely ridiculous and mysterious and surreal and that all humans are in the same boat of trying to make sense of this universe that we can never fully grasp. I think I cared a lot less about what other humans thought of me after having some of these experiences and realizing that, “Hey, if someone dislikes me, what does that even mean? A strange ape in a mysterious universe has some issue with another strange ape in a mysterious universe? Whatever. Fuck it.”
2) By forcing me to confront and acknowledge certain shadow aspects of myself — repressed fears, anxieties, experiences, etc that I didn’t necessarily want to look at. This was a very uncomfortable and frightening experience on multiple occasions but in the long run it has taught me to accept myself more fully — shadow included — and to feel more at peace with who I am and with being a human.
Hope this helps in some way!
I can relate to these fears; as I read them, automatically I correlated each with my fairly severe social anxiety disorder. I’d like to ask how you would relate your own personal experience directly with the concept of anxiety. How would you describe the relationship between these fears and anxiety, as your experience is?