Lucas Brenner » Articles » The Question That Can Conquer Your Fear

Fear is an emotion that we all feel regularly. I distinguish between two types of fear. One is the fear that you feel when you are frightened by something. This fear is short-term, occurs suddenly and then disappears again. It is also linked to a certain stimulus, for example a horror movie.

However, there is another form of fear that is more difficult to control. It is not coupled to certain stimuli, but to situations. It cannot be avoided (so easily) and is even more difficult to rationally invalidate. Sometimes it is called stage fright, excitement or nervousness and has many other names. This also includes the fear of change.

This form of fear is more complicated, but it is also more positive, because it is a kind of guidepost, as I wrote in my article “Facing Your Fear.” For example, this fear can occur before a public appearance, a semester abroad, or an exam. Unlike short-term anxiety, it can last longer and it's much easier to get caught up in it.

Fortunately, there is a relatively simple antidote to this form of anxiety. By asking the following question, we can break the vicious cycle of getting caught up in fear and realize that we don't need to be fearful at all.

Will this still matter in 10 days, 10 months or 10 years?

By asking this question, we prevent the situation from seeming so overwhelming and important that it clouds our rational thinking. Many things that we worry about today or that scare us are already forgotten in 10 days. Even a semester abroad that lasts a few months will be just a memory in 10 months. And even the loss of your job will appear in a different light in 10 years.

In short, 99% of the things we are afraid of and worry about will soon not be as relevant as they appear today. Most fears are exaggerated and not necessary. By asking a simple question, we put ourselves in a position to take a step back and look at our emotions more rationally.