Reframing Fear

Avthar’s Weekly Wisdom #26 (10/25/2020)

Hello fellow learners, doers and curious people!

Welcome to edition #26 of Avthar’s Weekly Wisdom. This is where I share practical wisdom about self-master, startups, health and happiness, all to help you live better.

What’s in today’s letter?

Reframing fear: After last week's letter on what’s fueling you: love or fear, I got a follow up question which I want to explore in today's letter.

Curation Corner: I also share the best podcasts, videos and books I’ve been enjoying, so make sure to check out the Curation Corner at the end!

After last week’s letter, I received an excellent follow-up question:

"So I took inventory of what's motivating my actions. I see I'm being motivated my fear and I don't like that. What can I do?"

The short answer is reframe your fear.

I'll explain why and how below...

PS: This is a part 2 to last week's letter, so if you haven't already, now is a great time to read it and come back to this one after you're done. Everything will make more sense that way :)

The problem with being fueled by fear

As I mentioned last week, the lesson from taking inventory of whether your actions are being fueled by fear or love isn't that acting from love is "good" and acting from "fear" is bad. The lesson is noticing where fear is your default motive but might not actually be the best fuel for your life.

The problem being motivated by fear is that it can actually hamper your ability to achieve your goals. Being fueled by fear often comes with the side-effects of being too anxious and stressed to be effective. As Naval Ravikant once said: "Imagine how effective you would be if you weren’t anxious all the time?"

Now, if the side-effects of being motivated by fear aren't useful to you, there's good news...

Reframing fear

Instead of focusing on the avoidance of a suffering state (scarcity, overwhelm, anger, jealousy, resentment, envy), you can focus on the opportunity to move toward a beautiful state (abundance, happiness, joy, decisiveness, passion, creativity, awe, happiness). This is called reframing your fear.

Ask yourself, "What is the opposite of the situation I fear?"

That will help you frame your motive as an opportunity to move toward that state rather than the state you fear.

Some examples:

  • If you're in a relationship because you fear being alone, you can invert that fear into the opportunity to love and build a life with someone who loves you.

  • If you're in a job you don't like because of a difficult life situation or because you fear not being able to find another one, reframe your motive to focus on the skills you can build and transfer to the career you actually want to pursue in future.

  • If you're dieting and working out because you're fearful of being looked down upon or not being accepted by others, reframe it to focus on how you're building a foundation of health, wellness and good habits for yourself, your family and even your (future) children.

From these examples, I think you get the hang of reframing:

Rather than focus on S, a suffering state, focus on it’s opposite, B, a beautiful state

Fear is powerful

Fear is a powerful source of energy. Reframing your fear allows you to keep its energy but neutralize the harmful side effects which stop you from living peacefully and achieving your goals. I'll leave you with the words of MMA fighter and UFC world champion, Georges St-Pierre, who talks about how he reframes fear in the context of preparing for MMA fights:

"If you look at fear from an emotional perspective, it will drag you down into panic. But if you can look at it objectively, analytically, only then can you make it work for you.

When you master this, you open new avenues to generate power and knowledge. You discover new ways of thinking.

You learn that fear can be a natural ally, a homemade power source."

— George St-Pierre, Way of the Fight

I wish you a week of happiness, success and peace.

Until next week,


🥇 Curation Corner

Here's a roundup of some of the best videos, podcasts and books I've encountered recently. Let me know if you enjoy them (just hit reply)!

📺  Video I've watched 10+ times this past month — Eric Thomas: Taking Control

Eric Thomas, the world’s number 1 motivational speaker, drops some knowledge and motivation to players on the Carolina Panthers, a professional football team in the US NFL. Look out for his definition of giving 120%, what to do when you've reached your goals, and taking hold of the opportunities in front of you. Watch here.

Here's a quote that stuck with me:

"I was so stupid when I started doing this, I used to think everyone in the NFL wanted it equally - I thought everybody that came to the league was about that life...

…and then I realized that some dudes dreamt of getting to the NFL and that's it, they ain't go no more dreams...some of you worked harder in high school and in college than you do in the NFL! "

🎧  Podcast I'm enjoying — The Quest with Justin Kan

Justin Kan is the co-founder of live streaming platform Twitch. I know what you're thinking: "This is another one of those startup podcasts which glorify the hustle and suffer from survivorship bias". I thought so too, but The Quest, Justin's new podcast, is deeply authentic. His mission is to "bring the world stories of the people who have struggled and fought and finally made it, and how they have actually found happiness and deeper meaning beyond success."

Like me, Justin is all about living a peaceful, happy life beyond material success. Insights from folks in the arena on both achieving worldly success but also a peaceful and happy internal state is what makes this podcast one of a kind. I recommend starting with Episode 1, where he interviews his Twitch co-founder and CEO of startup accelerator Y-Combinator, Michael Siebel. Listen here

📚 Book I'm reading before bed — Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty

Jay Shetty's mission to "make wisdom go viral". I'm a huge fan of Jay's work, particularly how he takes wisdom from eastern philosophy, (mainly Hinduism) and molds it into a form that's digestible to Western and non-religious audiences. His book, "Think Like A Monk" is both deeply philosophical and highly practical. My favorite part was Part One: Let Go, which talks about identity, negativity, fear and intention. Read here

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