It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live

Today’s adage comes from Marcus Aurelius.  Aurelius championed stoicism. His treatment of fear illustrates the philosophy. In stoic thought, one pays attention to events under one’s own control. It is logical then to not fear death. Death is inevitable. What is not inevitable is life. Life is the sum of our choices. Our choices and our time.

When we fear death, we lose valuable time. We also lose motivation. Take for example the story of Curtis Jackson. You may know him better as 50 Cent. Jackson grew up in deprivation and amidst violence. Jackson had plenty to fear. But he did not fear death. In rejecting a fear of the inevitable, he achieved more than his contemporaries growing up in Queens.

You may recall what The Girl said yesterday about fear and danger. While we strive to limit our fearful nature, we ought pay heed to the benefit of well-placed fear. Fearing true danger will preserve us. But fear of the inevitable limits us. As do the fears our egos dread.

Those are the fears we must conquer. When ego reigns over an individual, fear holds all the power. Ego investments and buffers protect a fragile ego from “harm”. And the average person succumbs to ego-driven fear. Here are some examples and why we should choose to overcome them:

Failure – Failure is a far better teacher than success. Success does not demand that we fix our mistakes. Failure highlights our errors and forces a correction. Most would choose to do nothing than to fail. And they will never succeed.

Rejection – Like death, rejection is inevitable. We should not fear what we cannot control. While we fret, we squander the time and the energy and the wisdom to impact things under our control. We cannot control others.

Embarrassment – Only the ego can be embarrassed. This fear assumes other people see me the way I see me. And because my ego says I behaved in a foolish manner, therefore everyone does. Nonsense. Embarrassment stifles audacious action.

Intimacy – We are social creatures. The fear of intimacy limits the positive benefits we derive from close companionship. Instead we labor day after day holding up a mask. The frustration of not being ourselves bubbles over in passive-aggressive attacks. Dropping the mask frees our hands to other tasks.

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