The most enticing thing in the world is success, for it is the culmination of man’s aspirations. So if you ask me, “What do you want in life?” my answer will be, “I want to succeed in life.” There are well-known and non-negotiable ingredients of success which, if man puts into use, will ultimately lead him to success. Goal-setting, determination, passion, hard work, perseverance, discipline, attitude of positivity and receptiveness are some of these success ingredients. There are also fringe elements like smartness, skepticism, perfection, correctness, ignorance, carelessness and jealousy which play no less important role as they have the potential to augment or derail man’s journey to success.
Apart from the ingredients and the fringe elements, one factor that we more often tend to overlook while talking about success is imaginary fear. Working in the opposite way, the inhibiting powers of imaginary fear are as much potent and all-consuming as the impetus and tempo generated by the success ingredients. In other words, imaginary fear and the absence of courage to act to nullify it are powerful enough to thwart or delay man’s progress to success even when he acquires and puts into use a perfect mix of the success ingredients.
Fear is a debilitating feeling arising out of absence of knowledge as well as presence of knowledge. This definition is apparently confusing as it accommodates two diametrically opposite sides. But it is only presumably so as I have deliberately used “as well as,” instead of the coordinating conjunction: and, to signify the fact that there are fear of known and fear of unknown. Both these fears are real and objective to a large extent. It is real because it is about something or someone for which some knowledge is present or absent — absence of knowledge is only want of knowledge but not non-existence of knowledge. There is another type of fear: imaginary fear whose existence varies from person to person as it is completely subjective.
Fear of known is based on the knowledge about someone or something, hence, gives the room to overcome it by another set of knowledge that can obfuscate the fear through remedial measures, so explicable fear is counterbalanced by the courage generated by equally explicable knowledge. Fear of unknown is based on little or limited knowledge about something or someone, so speculative and guesstimate thinking, bridled by intelligent-questioning — attempt to arrive at the answer by asking questions from all possible angles — in varying degrees, is involved in fear of unknown. On the other hand, imaginary fear has neither the support of the knowledge-base of fear of known nor the power of intelligent-questioning of fear of unknown. So we can quickly say imaginary fear as fear of unknown sans intelligent-questioning.
On the surface of it, imaginary fear stands with a simple definition of a fear that is not real. But a look at it in fathom reveals a more complex buildup. So the task of detailing imaginary fear is not much less than arduous. Imaginary fear is the fear generated by an image that is built on a false knowledge base. Human mind has the amazing power to create images out of a simple, single-line information about anything. It can weave a net out of a few meshes. But when the meshes used are of incorrect information or false knowledge that escaped the intelligent questioning of man, fear-creating unreal images are formed. Further fed by rumors, such images turn themselves into monsters living and thriving in his thought-process and frightening him without borders.
Imaginary fear is debilitating because it sucks confidence out of man. It can only grow from strength to strength because human mind is inclined to allow snowballing of false images, not vice versa, unless man makes deliberate attempt to obliterate imaginary fear. This is because images can keep themselves as they are or keep growing on our mind till they are confronted by one’s own volition powered by factual knowledge. So imaginary fear about something or someone lives and grows with man as he lives with them. Feeling that something bad will happen sooner or later, feeling that there was so much happiness in life so bad days will have to follow, feeling of an impending defeat even when all signs of success are in the offing, feeling that probability of doing things in an incorrect way is more than doing in correct way and feeling that oneself is a complicated person though one is actually not are some of the imaginary fears that man usually finds himself with.
What are the dangers of imaginary fear? Even when a man is physically fit and mentally balanced, if he is suffering from imaginary fear, then he scores low on mental health which can be defined as equanimity of mind with a positive outlook. Both fear of known and fear of unknown are contagious, meaning people around a man are susceptible to be infected by the fear the man expresses. For example, children, whose parents are habituated to get upset and go tense with various incidents in life and do not show courage to confront such incidents, are likely to have fear as a major element of their character as they grow up. On the other hand, imaginary fear is not contagious as it a hidden fear, with man hardly expressing it. This makes imaginary fear more difficult to address because we do not know who is or who is not suffering from it.
Imaginary fear destabilizes man’s thought process so much so that he feels like carrying an enemy whom he is unable to deal with. It maims and bruises every step before it is taken in the journey of life, condemning man to stagnate, if not degrow, for no other reason. The inhibiting powers of imaginary fear are so powerful that it frightens man of looking forward and progressing — stops mind from working in the way, otherwise, it would have — even when he is fully equipped to tread a successful path, for imaginary fear travels ahead of him, much before he takes the first step. Imaginary fear is like sleeping with an enemy whom man is clueless about.
How can man overcome imaginary fear? The only way to defeat imaginary fear is confront it head-on. In other words, batter and shatter the image that creates this unreal fear. But, how? Barring the omnipotent, nothing is omnipotent, meaning all earthly phenomena are packed with susceptibility to break, so is the demon called imaginary fear. If man can hit the baseless fear-generating image within him with the right tool, it will have no option but to fall asunder. And the tool is the knowledge powerful enough to prove the falsity of the image. So this knowledge has to be indisputable facts called truth. Only does truth have the all-consuming power to overwhelm and nullify imaginary fear. Whatever be the factor that creates fear-causing unreal image in you, grab as much factual knowledge as possible that can counter the raison d’etre of that image, and from the position of that knowledge-strength, question the imaginary fear without fear. As you do it, you will see the image falling dead before you like peeling the rings of an onion because imaginary fear is built on falsities, hence, can not weather the storm of truth.
Never do live with imaginary fear but confront it and eliminate it as it is second to none in stopping you from succeeding in life.