Two Faces Of Fear

The divisiveness we’re experiencing today can be traced to two faces of fear:

  1. Forgetfulness
  2. Lack of confidence

Let’s explore each of these in more detail.


In the moment of fear we forget that we’ve never failed to deal with any situation that we’ve faced. We may later discover a solution better than the one we initially crafted, but we always find a way to deal with whatever we’re facing.

You don’t have to trust me on this. Recall situations that you’ve faced in which you had no background or prior experience. Recall the solution that you crafted and the result you got…without the benefit of background or experience.

Our strength, our antidote to fear, is our ability to learn and adapt. It’s what enables us to deal with any situation we face. Even people who are diagnosed with terminal illness make choices that enable them to choose how they want to spend their remaining days. This natural ability, which we all possess by virtue of our humanity, is one of the greatest strengths we possess.

Lack of confidence

Those among us who fear loss of:

  • Power
  • Job
  • Majority status

all lack confidence.

Lack of confidence stems from a lack of awareness that no one can take from us the skills and abilities we possess. Those who lack confidence are also unaware that, regardless of how skilled they become, there will always be someone who is better at some aspect than they are. Yet, this reality has not impacted their power to make choices for themselves, has not reduced their ability to get gainful employment or diminished their status even though they may no longer be in the majority.

Indeed, the most confident among us never feel that they are in the minority. They realize that their ability to deal with any situation they face, whether in the majority or minority, depends upon their right to make choices. If they can influence the majority to embrace their way of thinking, great. If not, they’ll disassociate from the group and pursue audiences in which they can gain a favorable result.

Confident people also realize that people who are more highly-skilled than they are, are NOT competitors; they’re potential teachers who can help them improve their skills if they pay attention to what more-highly-skilled people are doing and how they’re doing it. Better yet, if they ask these potential teachers how they are able to accomplish what they do, they’re likely to get great advice. My experience is that people who are good at what they do, are happy to help others. In other words, they possess the confidence to share their success with others so that they too can be successful.

For you

When you encounter someone who is exhibiting fear by insisting on control, protecting their job or preventing others from entering or advancing within your community, ask them “Why are you concerned? No one can take your skills and abilities from you. Nor can they rob you of your values and beliefs.”

More than likely you’ll get push back. Expect it. Then do what’s counterintuitive, say “I see your concerns, but I think they’re ill-founded. You’re too capable to allow that thinking to persist.” Then change the subject or walk away. The person will need time to absorb and evaluate what you just said. In situations like this we have to become farmers, we need to plant seeds and let them germinate.

If forgetfulness or a lack of confidence cause you to experience fear of loss of power, your job or status, begin each day by reminding yourself that no one can take your skills and abilities from you. Nor can they rob you of your values and beliefs, of gainful employment or status. Finally, remind yourself that if you want others to respect your right to your values, beliefs and choices, you must respect theirs as well. If you’re unwilling to respect theirs, you cannot expect them to respect yours. Status is irrelevant when it comes to respect.

For our kids

When you see the kids in your life experiencing fear, share with them the two faces of fear. This will help them evaluate which of the two they’re experiencing, which will then lead them to a way of dealing with their fear.

Don’t forget to live this message. When kids see you respecting others’ rights to their values, beliefs and choices, they’ll mimic your behavior. Kids instinctively know that actions are more credible than words. When mutual respect exists, fear is no longer an issue.

As kids become aware of the two faces of fear and how to deal with them, their lives, as well as the lives they touch, will experience less fear, anxiety and frustration…something for which they’ll be eternally grateful.

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Readers would love to see your thoughts and experiences in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, Always challenging topic. My preference is to focus on love not fear!

    • dfurtwengler

      Bill, fortunately the vast majority of us share your “love not fear” mindset. We temporarily set aside our goals and desires to aid those in need. We experience joy in being able to help others confront their challenges successfully and joyfully. Those who don’t are often people who feel that they are victims…that life isn’t fair. Those most committed to this mindset cannot be dissuaded by anything we say or do. The earlier we become aware that we’re dealing with someone with this mindset, the earlier we can redirect our efforts to those we can help. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

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