Real Talk

Science says we should ALL do things that scare us

Travelling alone? Bungee jumping? Cliff diving? If your first instinct is to say 'hell no' to all of these and a million other scary things, this article is for you.

As human beings, the things that scare us are vast, varied and complex. Fear is universal, but each of us has our own unique reasons and versions of the things that scare us.

For some, fear is paralyzing and avoided, and for some, it’s something that is tackled with excitement, over and over again. But when even the thought of facing our fears makes us so fearful in the first place, why would we bother? Who needs that kind of discomfort?

Let science explain why fear is a good thing, and why we should do those scary things after all…

We’re usually overreacting

To begin to face our fears, we first need to acknowledge why we have them in the first place. Fear is the anticipation or belief that something is dangerous, threatening or likely to cause pain. If you look at this definition and then look at the things we are too scared to do, we realize that we shouldn’t be afraid of them in the first place.

Most fears are irrational; we are hyper-concerned about things that are extremely unlikely to happen, or things that won’t be that detrimental to our lives if they do happen. If we worry about these irrational things, we’re really just wasting our time and limiting our experiences for unnecessary reasons.

And those overreactions are a distraction

Are you ever so wrapped up in your inner thoughts, anxieties and worries that you tune out the person talking to you, forget to do something, almost get into a car accident, or mess something up that’s more important than what you’re preoccupied with? The more we stress about the little things that scare us, the less we are thinking about the important things in life or focusing on the positives.

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It improves our survival instinct

Doing things that scare us helps us to become stronger, braver and more reactive people in general. Instead of turtle-shelling when we’re confronted with an uncomfortable situation, we can be reactive, work through the fear and move on.

And if we’re ever in a legitimately dangerous situation, facing our smaller fears will help train our bodies to react. It shifts our mindsets into survival mode more often, which helps that instinct kick in if/ when we really need it.

Courage comes from facing fears

The more we tackle the things that scare us, the more we realize that we didn’t need to be scared in the first place. We develop bravery with every obstacle that’s overcome, and we can then apply the bravery to similar situations, or situations that are supposedly less risky than things we’ve already tackled.

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." - Nelson Mandela

It teaches us about ourselves

Self-improvement often comes with owning up to and working on our flaws and mistakes. Working our way up to face the things that scare us helps us to learn more about our coping mechanisms.

Maybe the things that scare us make us defensive, maybe they make us run and hide, and maybe they cause us to procrastinate. The more that we deal with these scary things, the more we learn about how we deal with tough situations in general and can rectify our instincts that are setting us back overall.

girl standing on New Zealand rock

It’s better for our health in the long run

It’s no secret that stress is not our friend, and stress goes hand in hand with fear. Dwelling over all of these little fears is really not good for our overall health, be that mental or physical. We’ll be afraid of less things and less likely to have stress-related illnesses if we conquer the things that scare us.

It can only be beneficial to spend less time dwelling and gain that sudden adrenaline rush of facing our fears, rather than walking around with elevated blood pressure for weeks, worrying about the things we’re too scared to conquer. Face your fear and move on to bigger and better things; your heart will thank you in the long run.

So, who’s ready for a bungee jump or two?

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