Reading our Fears

How-to books, motivational gurus and courses proliferate telling us how to how to fight, control or eradicate fear, so imagine my delight when I watched this TED talk by Karen Walker Thompson about looking at our fears as stories we tell ourselves.

Who doesn’t love stories?

Thompson said we are the authors of our fears. She talked about fear “as an act of imagination,” and said fears are unintentional stories complete with plots, characters, images and suspense.

Fears fuel creativity and writers have always used fear as fodder for stories. Being human means dealing with fears on all levels all the time. Parents fear for the wellbeing of their children, most of us have money fears at one point in our lives. Even if we have plenty, we fear losing it. If we’re healthy, we fear sickness. Many of us fear death and some people even fear success.

Thompson also says we are the readers of our fears.

We use our imaginations to predict what could happen in our lives. Choosing the scariest scenario causes the biggest emotional wallop so that’s the one we fear will happen. That process enables writers to create believable situations based on real emotions.

Now I’m looking at fear in an entirely new light. Without my fears, I’d never be able to create the stories I write. Instead of being captive to my fears, I can consciously use them to my advantage. It feels like an epiphany.