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Just Another Teachin’ Tuesday: Fear? Let’s opt for logic and the odds.

Fear isn’t terribly fun for most anyone; however, it’s right there at the top of the old “No Way” List for those of us enduring a mood or anxiety disorder.

Well, let’s take a look at this fear business from a logical point of view by first examining these statistics – facts…

  • Your chances of dying on a single airline flight on one of the Top 25 carriers with the best safety records are 1 in 6,300,000
  • Your chances of matching all five numbers in the Illinois Little Lotto are 1 in 576,000
  • Your chances of dying from a bee sting are 1 in 86,000
  • Your chances of dying from being struck by lightning are 1 in 84,000
  • Your chances of dying in an automobile accident are 1 in 100

Interesting and revealing statistics, aren’t they? And with regard to dying in an airplane crash, air safety in the United States is so good right now that there’s a better chance of a child being elected president than your plane going down. How ‘bout this one. If you were to fly only 2,000 miles a year, your chances of death are just about the same as an airplane falling out of the sky and hitting you on the head.

How often do you fret about that during a typical day (and don’t start now).

Now, I’ll be the first to admit my levels of anticipatory anxiety and in-the-moment fear would dramatically decrease if I knew I was going to make a trip by car, as opposed to flying. But given the stats we just reviewed, that just doesn’t make any sense. I mean, 1 in 6,300,000 as opposed to 1 in 100? Give me a break.

Look – let’s say you had a life-threatening medical condition and there were only two courses of treatment that could save your life. One’s chances of death were 1 in 6,300,000, but involved a horribly painful recovery. The other guaranteed a pain-free recovery; however, its chances of death were 1 in 100. Gee – in spite of the pain, for which course of treatment would you opt? Of course, you’d go with the odds.

How ‘bout this one. The chances of dying from a lightning strike are 1 in 84,000. Again, the chances of dying in a plane crash as described above are 1 in 6,300,000. Hmmm – you won’t fly, yet you’d run to the car (probably with a metal umbrella) during a thunderstorm with intense lightning.

You bought that Little Lotto ticket in Illinois knowing you had a very remote chance at matching all five numbers at odds of 1 in 576,000. Did you really expect to win? Of course not, you trusted the odds. Yet, you believe your plane will go down when the odds are 1 in 6,300,000 that it won’t.

Look at the numbers, as well as your history of suspect interpretation and overreaction!

All of this is very curious, don’t you think? It sounds to me like this fear business is an issue of selective reasoning. By the way, wouldn’t that qualify as misinterpretation and using fear as a defense mechanism? I mean, if we want to use interpretation to justify what we know to be the logical and right decision, we do.

But we can also employ misinterpretation to justify what we know to be the illogical and wrong decision.

I’m telling you – in the old days I’d ignore facts and logic and run with what afforded me the most control, without any consideration of opportunities for challenge and growth. Well, enough was enough. The time had come to run with logic and the facts – the very truth.

These days, I manage fear with courage, reason, and perspective. And I’ve disciplined myself to implement any number of techniques as soon as the first waves of fear rush upon my shores.

It’s at that point I’m able to get an accurate fix as to what’s really going on; and become equipped to think, feel, and behave appropriately.

What do you think, chipur readers? As hard as it may be to implement (but we can), doesn’t going with logic and the odds beat the heck out of succumbing to fear? How ’bout some responses in the form of a comment or two?

  • karen

    Ok, just what are these techiniques? I can’t be logical when I am panicing. and yes, 90% of the time, I make good decisions to alleviate my panic and anxiety. Exercise, eating right (ok maybe chocolate pb ice cream a couple of times a week) but that is it for sugar, minimal caffeine, alcohol, etc. Trying deep breaths right now at work……..

    • And you’ve made yet another great decision by accessing chipur at work. I always knew you had a good head on your shoulders. It takes time, Karen, and practice. It’s all about building that foundation so the panic doesn’t occur in the first place – as opposed to always having to turn to logic in the midst of a crisis.