What is your greatest fear?

Think about it

Have you ever been asked what your greatest fear was? If you have, did you know the answer instantly? Or did you need to take some time and really think on it? I was asked this question a couple weeks ago and replied with ‘to not know what is going to happen tomorrow. To not experience whatever tomorrow might bring. To die.’ At that moment I knew that that was in fact true of me, and a paramount fear of mine, yet I also knew that there was a burning feeling inside of me. I knew there was something else I feared more than the inevitability of death…

If we know our fear…

If you know your fear you would most certainly know how to avoid it. We seem to be pulled into avoiding our fears without much force needed. But can you or have you considered facing your fear? Embracing your fear? Or live side by side with your fear? These are all doable feats if you are willing to take the plunge.

To face a fear would be preparing yourself both physically and mentally for the challenge ahead. Anxiety would be almost suffocating no doubt. But if you were to practice breath work on a daily basis, read books on the fear you’re looking to encounter and then try to envision yourself conquering said fear…You would eventually approach the obstacle with all the tools you need to bring it down to a human perceived level.

To embrace your fear you would need to address what it is about it that makes you feel the way you do. Is it fear brought on by jealousy, anger or perhaps unavoidable change? To embrace a fear of this kind you will need to become mindful of yourself and see your fearful feelings clearly. To see them clearly is to look at the person/situation in a new perspective and see it for what it really is. I’m jealous because I know this person is better at conversing with everybody so effortlessly compared to me. I’m angry because it should be me that everyone wants to talk to. Everything is changing because they talk so well, now I have to adapt and grow out of my comfort zone… Great, now you can see these fears in their true forms you can start to embrace them and use them as tools to upskill yourself!

To live side by side with your fear could be finding that a person you don’t get along with at all is now working with you or has entered your circle of friends. You know that you can’t remove them and you certainly don’t want to lose your job or friends! This is where you need to adapt your previous techniques of tolerating and conversing. Begin to ask the person more questions about themselves, appear interested for a while. Then let that façade eventually morph into GENUINE questions of interest. Fake it until you make it! You’d be surprised how quickly you can catch yourself genuinely interested in what another has to say when you start to ask the right questions or even questions that you find yourself wanting to know an answer to!

My real fear

It was about 36 hours later I finally came to my conclusion on what my real fear was after a lot of time spent walking and practicing mindful breathing. I fear being misunderstood. Above all else I fear the idea that the last thing I said to anybody might be the thing that they remember of me the strongest. And what I said to them could quite possibly have been something easy to interpret in many ways, and maybe, they interpreted what I said in a way I certainly did not intend.

Having a fear of being misunderstood has been my biggest fear for most of my life now that I pin pointed it and channelled a lot of energy into understanding what it has made of me. It has crafted the way I’ve behaved and thought most of my life. Being afraid of being misunderstood has simultaneously had me living with depression and anxiety. Living with the past conversations I’ve had and wishing I’d said something better and worried that the person now thought less of me as a human being. Living in the future worried that the next time I see a person I didn’t quite speak well enough to previously will now be quite angry with me and again, think of me in a less than desirable light. Developing an almost loquacious level of talking that serves me in defensive, nervous, argumentative and even in moments of quiet. The next step I’ve been focusing on is catching myself in these moments and trying to dial back my words to only what is necessary. It is not easy!

But fortunately I have knocked those towering feelings (depression and anxiety) down significantly. Being focused on staying mindful in the present whenever I catch myself falling into the past or fretting over the future in my thoughts.

Staying present through slowing down your thoughts to what you are doing at that very moment or focusing on your current breath. What’s done is done and what will be will be. But right now, at this very moment, you have a choice. You can turn left, you can turn right, you can stay right there for a few more moments if you want to. You can always begin changing your path for the better at any given moment. Why not make that moment now?

BE PRESENT. And if you’ve had trouble in the past? that’s okay. That’s the nice thing about the present. it keeps showing up to give you a second chance.

ryan holiday


No matter your fear, try to slow yourself down today. Take stock of all the information you have of this fear then address exactly what it is you are afraid about in it. Stay present by working on what you can do NOW. Life is but full of moments, how many of them can you live in with all your attention?

Closing thoughts

You have to sacrifice one electrical appliance for the rest of your life, what is it? Now, what would you substitute in it’s place? more time with a friend? A book? Quality sleep?

Nick Donnellan

Self awareness is progression

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