Do you know who said those famous words and when?
They were said in 1933 at his first inaugural address and said by our 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Our country was at the depth of the great depression and despair and uncertainty had set in and seemed to be here to stay. There’s no doubt Mr. Roosevelt had a tough job ahead of him over his first term as President of the United States. Putting politics aside here, he had to relay confidence in American through his speeches and stalwart leadership even though he was crippled by polio.
Here’s what I think Mr Roosevelt meant when he said that famous line… “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Because I have seen this formula if you will, manifest itself time and time again. As a matter of fact, I once had a person who I worked with and in all respects he was top notch. The ability to create a fear and respond to it as if it were real was no exception.
Here’s how I’ve seen it play out… A belief is created, perhaps from a seed of doubt or insecurity and because it’s given the nourishment beliefs like that need to foster and grow. The nourishment of attention and consistent worry, which acts like atomic miracle grow making that small insignificant doubt become all encompassing.
Because the belief has been allowed to foster and grow it has become as if it were reality. This is where it really gets interesting… Behavior begins to be modified to act as if that belief was real. Something like, I begin to think you’re upset with me about something I don’t even know what and then I become sure you’re upset at me and I begin to get upset at you. How dare you! And then magically, even though you were never mad at me, you begin to become frustrated because of the way I am treating you. I have just created what I feared most!
That’s what I think President Roosevelt was talking about when he said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He didn’t want us (our parents and grand parents) to stay in the malaise that had gripped Americana and in so doing make it even worse. I learned in the Dale Carnegie course many many years ago a little saying that goes… “If you want to be enthusiastic, act enthusiastic.”
Be careful what you create in your mind… it might become more real than you really want.