Knowledge and understanding can overcome fear and anxiety

Illustration by Brian Stauffer

If you believe all of social media or follow politically-aligned media outlets, we live in a scary world. Yet, many people throughout history have felt the same at the times they lived. War, disease, natural disasters, famine, political upheaval, economic crashes, and on and on. It may seem to us that we are living in especially perilous times with the world literally at a knife’s edge … yet, 20 years ago, many would have said the same thing. And 30 years before that and 30 years before that and on and on …

Perhaps each generation feels that their time is the worst, and they yearn for golden days in the past when all seemed stable and settled, even though we know (or should know) those times never actually existed.

Stress and uncertainty about our world and our lives can bring on anxiety and fear, sometimes truly paralyzing fear. We deal with it in different ways, but many people struggle.

What can overcome anxiety, stress, and fear? Fear is the unknown, the mystery, the unthinkable, the worst-case scenario.

The antidote to that anxiety and fear is understanding brought about by knowledge.

With knowledge, with understanding, the unknown becomes the known, the explained; the worst-case scenario and the unthinkable become the extremely unlikely. When you know why and how and accept that all life comes with risk, the sting of anxiety and fear can be mellowed.

Remember that fear is also a weapon used by tyrants, authoritarians, some politicians, political organizations and others to gain and keep power at the expense of you and the many. When you are made to fear that you or your way of life is at risk, you are easier to manipulate.

Combat fear with knowledge, understand the “why” and the “how” and the actual risk. Don’t live in fear.

Learn more:

Fear — impacts on decision-making and behavior (from Science Bibliographies Online)

Change: Why do we fear it? (from Science Bibliographies Online)

Understand the context of information important to you; reduce the fear and anxiety

Politics and Fear

Tribalism in our society

Scapegoats and self-blame

Questions? Please let me know (

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