Turns out the rationality of my fears doesn’t matter. Antony told me that his biggest questions for people working on their fears aren’t whether the fear makes sense, it’s whether the fear is excessive or unreasonable. Is it proportional to the actual threat? And does fear really matter in the person’s daily life?
“I might be terrified of snakes,” he said, “but if I never see snakes and I don’t avoid anything because it’s not a problem in my life, then who is it? care?”
Unfortunately, not driving presents a real problem in my life. I wish I could drive places. And I would like to do so without the overwhelming fear that my death, and that of my passengers, is imminent.
Antony pointed out that this feeling is not even fear, which is centered on an immediate threat (a bear, for example, is coming right at you and hasn’t had lunch). What I feel instead is anxiety, which is centered on a future threat (a bear might, at some point, one day, come right at you without having eaten lunch.) And Teachman agreed, saying that while fear can be helpful, anxiety isn’t.
She said anxiously, “We’re starting to get a lot of false alarms, so we think situations are dangerous and actually safe, and so we’re starting to avoid more than we should.” Or, in the case of driving, safe enough.
I still think I’m right to be afraid of driving, but unfortunately giving in to that feeling limits my life – and living a limited life seems scarier than even driving a car. The smart thing to do is recognize that these horrific scenarios that I imagine that make me just a memory for my loved ones may not be imminent or likely. I think I can do it. And if you want to call me brave, I won’t stop you.