Fear: Friend or Foe?

20 Apr
Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933

Franklin D. Roosevelt - Image via Wikipedia

Fear is, for most people, something that is to be avoided at all costs.But why do we have the uncontrollable urge to run away from things that we fear? Most likely, it has something to do with our biology that we hold on to from back in the days where being afraid was the thing that kept us on edge, that kept us alive. Fear was being prepared for the lion bearing down on you in the tall grass,and avoiding the tall grass if possible.

In today’s world most of our base needs are provided for within reason.We have the luxury of being able to expend our energies on things that do not relate to finding food, making shelter, or avoiding harm. However, I think that our hard-wiring for fear prevents us from taking risks that would benefit us. We avoid things like speaking to a cute stranger we met on the bus out of fear that they could be a closet psychopath, or that they might hurt us emotionally by snubbing our advances. We still have the avoidance of fear, but for most situations, for the majority of us, it is an unjustified fear.

So what can we do about it? By recognizing that we may have fears that are not equal to the perceived threat we can make a choice to ignore the fear and act anyways. With time we might learn to  distinguish better between irrational fear and justified fear. When we learn to take on the fear we are feeling and turn it into something positive we enable ourselves to become better, to do more, to grow. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his first inauguration address, summed things up perfectly when he said:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning,unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Has there ever been a time when fear has kept you from acting? Was the fear a rational or an irrational fear? Did you later regret not doing something? 


Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Motivational


Tags: , , ,

5 responses to “Fear: Friend or Foe?

  1. Axl

    April 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Flustered – I came across some info on (dum-dum-daaahhhhh) SDN, haha, and thought you might find it of interest.

    Its a pretty damn good spreadsheet about MD vs. DO vs. Carrib match statistics. Depending on what kind of specialty you’re thinking about, this might prove useful.

    • Flustered Grad

      April 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      Interesting. I’ll take a look at that spreadsheet in detail later, but I’ve seen most of that data via NRMP’s reports. I did my own comparison using data limited to the 3 Caribbean schools I applied + US MD/DO to get a better picture of trends as it related to my decision. The big 3 have stats on par with the DO schools for most of the specializes, save some of the more competitive ones. Good find though!

  2. PGYx

    April 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I’d also add that as the number of DO schools rapidly rises (and as most or ?all med schools increase their class size), residency match will become more competitive since the number of residency spots is rising comparatively slowly.

    For reference, the number of DO schools went from ~19 to 26 (for a total of 34 locations including satellite campuses like PCOM-GA, Touro-NV, etc.) during my 4 years in med school. My school increased class size during that time by about 50% secondary to a U.S. Council on Graduate Medical Education mandate. I highly recommend you consider the following discussion of some of the unintended consequences of expanding medical school class size:

    This recent NYT article discussed the clinical site turf wars between NYC and Caribbean schools: . As the number of med students rises, this battle may intensify.

    IMGs who do really well on board exams and U.S. rotations (and interview well!) probably won’t have much a problem matching into all but the very competitive specialities. However, I think it’s essential to be guaranteed a significant number of U.S. clerkships if you opt for foreign education. I wonder whether such a guarantee is really possible in a more crowded med student-scape.

    Even if you are sure you want to be a family physician, you may fall in love with a different specialty during the clinical years. A lot of us thought we wanted primary care early on but went on to choose other specialties. It is nice to have options.

    I wish you the best in making the right choice for your path!

    • Flustered Grad

      April 20, 2011 at 8:18 pm

      This is all true. Something to keep in mind when weighing the options for sure.

  3. Harnew

    May 22, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Reading this is an extension of what you said yesterday. Simple yet effective if I approach life with a fearless mentality.


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