“Many are harmed by fear itself, and many may have come to their fate while dreading fate.”SENECA, OEDIPUS, 992
The quote above is all about fear — a very powerful emotion that threatens to overwhelm us if we let it. We can’t let that happen however; we can’t let ourselves be enslaved by fear, for that is a hell of our own making.
Fear is a topic that I’ve written about many times. Often I’ve talked about how tragic and irrational our fear is. How it deprives us of the joy of living, and how fear itself is almost always worse than the thing we’re afraid of! We fill our heads with worry and panic, stress and anxiety — and this crowds out the love and rational thought that should otherwise reign.
Jumping to dreaded conclusions is easy, actually. Too easy in fact. What’s harder is trusting and expecting the best of other people, and accepting that much is outside of your control. Letting go in that sense is what brings release, true freedom, and acceptance. Don’t put a down payment on misery — invest instead in your personal peace and calm.
Today’s entry in The Daily Stoic book is specifically about the idea that fear can be self-fulfilling. By obsessing about our fear, we can unconsciously take steps that actually bring the undesired outcome closer to fruition. As Ryan Holiday states, “If you lose your self-control, you may be the very source of the disaster you so fear.”
So in that sense, fear itself can actually be dangerous. Not the thing we’re afraid of, mind you — that’s usually much less ominous than we make it out to be. But the act and state of fear can be harmful and detrimental to our well-being. We are well-advised by Seneca to avoid it.