Tuesday, 23 October 2012

How to be fearless amidst constant threats. The logical approach to personal development. Stay away from the folklore of irrationality. How to be rational and maintain your serenity

Imagine for a moment that you would able to go after your goals without having to fear criticism from friends and family. Would you devote more efforts to pursuing your ambitions if you did not have to worry about ridicule in case of failure? How far would you invest yourself if you never had to deal with discouragement and doubts? 

We fear failure more than we crave success

 There are good reasons why we fear failure more than we crave success. If we formulate the proposition in purely material terms, the discomfort suffered from not having any car is far superior than the advantages derived from having two cars; similarly, the terror of losing all our savings in a stock market crash is stronger than the perspective of doubling our assets if stock prices rise.

Worry and anxiety are powerful inhibitors of achievement. Fear can make us discard viable initiatives; apprehension may consume our energies and prevent us from moving forward; concern can block reasonable attempts to improve our situation.


Our minds tend to blow risks out of proportion

We stay behind because our minds blow risks out of proportion; we give up too soon because we underestimate our capacity to adopt preventive measures; we walk downtrodden paths for fear of lions that we have never seen; we stick to unproductive routines to avoid the discomfort associated with change.

Books and lectures that recommend to take risks remain unconvincing to most people. Common sense weighs heavier than motivational speeches. Change is disruptive; we crave what we can gain less than we dread what we can lose. Cheerful words and doubtful promises are not sufficient to assuage our concerns. Only realism can prompt us to overcome fear; only rationality can lead us to take entrepreneurial risks.


Self-confidence needs to be built 

Thinking must take place before action if such action is to be productive; planning must take place before implementation if success is to be attained. Self-confidence needs to be built before it can be applied; skills must be acquired before they can be employed. How can we overcome exaggerated fears and take well-calculated steps? In which way can we increase our chances of success?

Using reason to dismantle doubts and inhibition

Reason is the most powerful tool for dismantling falsehoods. If we grow convinced that we stand a good chance of accomplishing our goals, we will become less worried and more adventurous. Logic is our cardinal ally for contesting overblown concerns. The best way to face fear is to demonstrate its irrationality, namely:

1. Compare the risk with its actual likelihood


The intensity of a potential catastrophe is independent of the likelihood of its occurrence. Salesmen promote insurance policies by painting vivid pictures of misfortune, but their sales presentations seldom mention the actual statistical probability of such misfortune taking place.

2. Assess threats objectively, not emotionally


The perception of risk is heavily influenced by cultural stereotypes. Saving rates differ from country to country according to how citizens see their future; the willingness to change jobs and move to a distant city is higher in the US than in Europe; the proportion of the population that invests in the stock market also varies from country to country.

3. Quantify the potential damage 


Potential dangers need to be quantified in order to be properly assessed. If emotions take control, they will exaggerate the negative consequences of risk. On many occasions, the material damages that people actually suffer are minor compared to the accompanying psychological discomfort.

4. Eliminate distortions from your perception



Many things we fear arise from stories written by marketeers. Why do California residents protect themselves more often against earthquakes than against divorce? Because salesmen market earthquake insurance very effectively, while at the same time, few couples are aware that a pre-nuptial agreement can protect them against a devastating divorce.

Taking the time to assess risks objectively is essential for making good decisions. If you are considering a challenging professional move, forget about irrational fears and ask yourself the right questions: if your new job proves to be a disappointment, what is the actual likelihood of your becoming unemployed? Even if you lost your new position, how long would it reasonably take you to regain employment?

We worry about risks that have been exaggerated by marketeers trying to promote their products or services. Those who sell pension plans frequently paint grim pictures of retired people living in poverty and rightly so. There is no reason why salesmen should refrain from offering their insurance policies, but it is up to us to appraise risks according to their true gravity.


Use reason to acquire an unbreakable self-confidence

The next time that you hesitate between taking action or staying put, do not make a decision until you have assessed all facts. Make an effort to discard emotions that might be polluting your perception. Quantify the positive and negative aspects; weigh off the severity of risks with the likelihood of their occurrence.

Logical analysis reshapes risks and unveils opportunities. Thoughtfulness replaces concern with prudence and worry with caution. On most occasions, a rational assessment of advantages and disadvantages will prompt individuals to take initiative. Becoming an entrepreneur in your everyday life begins with understanding risks and our ability to deal with them effectively.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book about how to be rational  "The 10 Principles of Rational Living"

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jimbowen0306 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]


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