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Fear

  • Fear looks both ways but still refuses to cross; fear looks twice and still doesn't leap. ... Fear usually arrives late, inevitably leaves early, and ends up never going out of town at all. Fear is the phantom hand on the back of the neck and the sound of a door opening downstairs when no one is coming home. ... Fear grows poor because it watches others gain wealth but cannot enter the fray; fear grows sick because it eats away at heath even as it fears its diminishment; fear grows old watching others live in ways that seem to threaten—but in reality only enhance—life.

  • Although fear in the right dosage and under the right circumstance protects us ... imaginary fear offers straitjackets instead of lifejackets, nooses instead of safety nets.

  • Then and there I invented this rule for myself to be applied to every decision I might have to make in the future. I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness, and other things being equal I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side. I think it must be a rule something like this that makes jonquils and crocuses come pushing through cold mud.

  • Perfect love may cast our fear, but fear is remarkably potent in casting out love.

  • ... grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.

  • My knees could have been stirred with a spoon.

  • Human progress had so often been checked by those who were afraid of losing what they had.

  • ... fear has always been a diminisher of life. Whether bred in the bogs of superstition or clothed in the brocades of dogma and ritual, the specter of death has reduced the living to supplicants, powerless.

  • Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

  • To fear the examination of any proposition apears to me an intellectual and a moral palsy that will ever hinder the firm grasping of any substance whatever.

    • George Eliot,
    • 1842, in Gordon S. Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters, vol. 1 ()
  • Great self-destruction follows upon unfounded fear.

  • It isn't the things that happen to us, it's the things we think are going to happen to us that drive us almost crazy ...

  • ... if you give way to fear, you'll be a coward; and ... a coward is apt to be a liar. The devil's first name is Fear ...

  • ... to everything there is an end — except fear.

  • Fear is born in uncertainty and nourished by pessimism.

  • ... there is nothing bad that fear cannot make worse!

  • Once you allow anyone to terrorize you, you will be terrorized all your life. Terror corrupts. Pretty soon you'll be terrorizing others. ... Life doesn't mean anything if you can't rid yourself of fear.

  • Fear's ally is hate.

  • Usually the things you dislike in a person are his defenses against fear.

  • I have a lot of things to prove to myself. One is that I can live my life fearlessly.

  • You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face ... You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

  • Too many of us stay walled up because we are afraid of being hurt. We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.

  • Fear is an emotion indispensable for survival.

  • Afraid is a country with no exit visas ...

  • ... of all the foolish Fears of Humankind, Fear of the Future is by far the most foolish.

  • I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me. I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, and I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back, turn back, you'll die if you venture too far.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • I've always known that fear is a sign — usually a sign that I'm doing something right.

  • The most destructive element in the human mind is fear. Fear creates aggressiveness; aggressiveness engenders hostility; hostility engenders fear — a disastrous circle.

  • How is it that hope so powerfully excites, and fear so absolutely depresses all our faculties?

    • Maria Edgeworth,
    • 1814, in Augustus J.C. Hare, ed., The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth, vol. 1 ()
  • Even if their outward fortunes could be absolutely equalized, there would be, from individual constitution alone, an aristocracy and a democracy in every land. The fearful by nature would compose an aristocracy, the hopeful by nature a democracy, were all other causes of divergence done away.

  • ... no hour arrives so soon as the one we dread.

  • Fear binds people together. And fear disperses them. Courage inspires communities: the courage of an example — for courage is as contagious as fear. But courage, certain kinds of courage, can also isolate the brave.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "On Courage and Resistance," At the Same Time ()
  • I had done battle with a great fear and the victory was mine.

  • Fear is the most easily taught of all lessons, and the fight against terror, real or imagined, is perhaps the history of man's mind.

  • He wove a veritable spider web about himself. No man was ever more completely installed in the realm of possessions. ... He had prepared a fortress against need, war and change.

  • Americans did not acquire their fear neurosis as the result of a traumatic experience — war devasting their country, pestilence sweeping the land, famine wiping out helpless millions. Americans had to be taught to hate and fear an unseen enemy. The teachers were men in official positions, in government, men whom Americans normally trust without question.

  • There is no question of getting beyond it. ... The little boat enters the dark fearful gulf and our only cry is to escape — 'put me on land again.'

  • Proust has pointed out that the predisposition to love creates its own objects: is this not true of fear?

  • Anticipated evils have often as much power over the mind as real ones. To guard against this imbecility of the mind an ancient Author observes 'that sufficient unto the day was the Evil thereof.'

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1780), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.

  • ... fear is a vile thing, and is at the bottom of almost every wrong and hatred of the world.

  • Fear is a confession of weakness. What you fear is stronger than you, or you think it is, else you wouldn't be afraid of it.

  • Fear is the original sin. Almost all the evil in the world has its origins in the fact that some one is afraid of something.

  • I always feel sorry for people who think more about a rainy day ahead than sunshine today.

  • Fear / a motor, / pumps me around and around / until I fade slowly ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Imitations of Drowning," Live or Die ()
  • No good comes from fear. No morality is governed by it.

  • There are those who have discovered that fear is death in life, and have willingly risked physical death and loss of all that is considered valuable in order to live in freedom.

  • The great enemy of creativity is fear. When we're fearful, we freeze up — like a nine-year-old who won't draw pictures, for fear everybody will laugh. Creativity has a lot to do with a willingness to take risks. Think about how children play. They run around the playground, they trip, they fall, they get up and run some more. They believe everything will be all right. They feel capable; they let go. Good businesspeople behave in a similar way: they lose $15 million, gain $20 million, lose $30 million and earn it back. If that isn't playing, I don't know what is!

  • It's like the smarter you are, the more things can scare you.

  • But to fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.

  • Death is what takes place within us when we look upon others not as gift, blessing, or stimulus but as threat, danger, competition.

  • I finally concluded that all failure was from a wobbling will rather than a wobbling wheel.

  • Fear ... is forward. No one is afraid of yesterday.

  • We must recognize that the reality of another's fear is not to be estimated by our own attitude toward the object of the fear, but by the attitude of the person who fears. It is the fear, not the object, which is the reality.

  • In the dark all dreads are worse.

  • There are two dogs who stand guard in your stomach. Their names in English are jealousy and fear. One guardian dog is jealously fearful, the other fearfully jealous. They are medicine to protect you.

  • Where do you put your attention? On fear or love? I wish the choice were made just once and not repeated every moment of the day.

  • ... love will not always linger longest / With those who hold it in too clenched a fist.

  • ... it was his rooted belief that an unlocked door or window would instantly attract a burglar.

  • ... by and large, nothing is as bad as you fear, or as good as you hope.

  • It's fear that makes a situation dangerous.

  • She walked as a child walks in the dark — afraid to look behind him lest the thing he sees may be a thousand times more fearful than that which he fears.

  • Everyone knew fear. It was the reaction that made the difference. Some people hated fear and avoided the experience. Some people endured it as a necessity. And some people became addicted to the rush.

  • ... I learned that whatever I was most scared of was precisely the thing I most wanted to do. Hello, fear! Fear has led me to everything I've ever done in my life.

    • Nancy Evans,
    • in Suzanne Harper, ed., Hands On! 22 More Things Every Girl Should Know ()
  • Fear is not a good teacher. The lessons of fear are quickly forgotten.

  • No child is ever born afraid. Fear is a learned behavior.

  • What an incredible drug fear is.

  • I'm not frightened of the darkness outside. It's the darkness inside houses I don't like.

  • ... it's the thing you fear most that walks beside you all the time.

  • ... what you fear is bound to occur.

  • If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.

  • People tend to fear what they do not know, and what they fear they dislike.

  • ... we tend to attract the things we fear.

  • There are such people, unfortunates who have to be angry before they can feel alive. I had sometimes wondered if it were some old relic of pagan superstition, the fear of risking the jealousy and anger of the gods, that made such people afraid of even small happinesses. Or perhaps it was only that tragedy is more self-important than laughter.

  • I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us.

  • It is immoral to trade on fear. It is immoral constantly to make women feel dissatisfied with their bodies. It is immoral to deceive a customer by making miracle claims for a product. It is immoral to use a photograph of a glowing sixteen-year-old to sell a cream aimed at preventing wrinkles in a forty-year-old.

  • I had had to learn the difference between the bearable fatigue and the unbearable, the fatigue of fear. The first can be cured by a night's sleep; the second kills.

  • A wild beast has no need to leap in order to promote fear.

  • A door slamming makes one jump, but it doesn't make one afraid. What one fears is the serpent that crawls underneath it.

  • Fear has a smell, as love does.

  • The truly fearless think of themselves as normal.

  • There are some women who seem to be born without fear, just as there are people who are born without the ability to feel pain. The painless ones go around putting their hands on hot stoves, freezing their feet to the point of gangrene, scalding the lining of their throats with boiling coffee, because there is no warning anguish. Evolution does not favour them. So too perhaps with the fearless women, because there aren't very many of them around. ... Providence appears to protect such women, maybe out of astonishment.

  • Fear is created not by the world around us, but in the mind, by what we think is going to happen.

  • ... I've always imagined fear as being a blackbird beating its wings inside me.

  • When fear seizes, change what you are doing. You are doing something wrong.

  • It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

  • To be alive is to be afraid, and much to our advantage in many cases, since alarm often preserves us from danger.

    • Judith N. Shklar,
    • "The Liberalism of Fear," in Nancy Rosenblum, ed., Liberalism and the Moral Life ()
  • ... there will never be an invention with greater velocity than thought when it's propelled by livid fear.

  • I fear no man. Sometimes I think I do not even fear God.

    • Gertrude Simmons Bonnin,
    • in David Johnson and Raymond Wilson, "Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, 1876-1938: Americanize the First American," American Indian Quarterly ()
  • ... fear is often disguised as moral outrage.

    • Judy Blume,
    • in Wendy Mass, Great Authors of Children's Literature ()
  • Pride was my wilderness, and the demon that led me there was fear.

  • Any fear is always worse than the thing itself.

  • ... what makes us so afraid is the thing we half see, or half hear, as in a wood at dusk, when a tree stump becomes an animal and a sound becomes a siren. And most of that fear is the fear of not knowing, of not actually seeing correctly.

  • ... fear is a dreadful drawback because it stops us living in the moment.

  • ... what you fear, you invite.

  • The same fear ... has kept me stuck in life so many times before, afraid to move forward, to take a step that would free me from the ordinary, the mundane, the insufferable. A crippling fear that deadens my potential and limits my relationship with the world. It's so easy to cling to the familiar, even when it's deplorable.

  • In every mind where there is a strong tendency to fear, there is a strong capacity to hate. Those who dwell in fear dwell next door to hate ...

  • ... power is not a thing to be owned. But if you believe that it is such a thing, losing it becomes a possibility to fear. That fear, I think, is one reason for the dark projections of a catastrophic future that are so widespread, in our dual society. The present powerful, being committed to polarization, expect that any new deal will overturn the one that set them in authority; that the last shall be first and the first last, role reversal everywhere, men as slaves, women as masters, in a revolution of contradiction.

  • When you have nothing to lose you have everything to gain.

  • What you fear most will happen to you — that is the law.

  • ... most People are wretched more by the Fears of what may come, than what they endure at present. ... a manifest Contradiction to good Sense; for who, with the right use of that, wou'd lose the Enjoyment of a present Comfort, to lament a Misfortune only in Supposition; which ten to one never comes to pass ...

    • Eliza Haywood,
    • "The Tea-Table: or, A Conversation Between Some Polite Persons of Both Sexes" (1725), in Alexander Pettit et al., eds, Fantomina and Other Works ()
  • When fear advances, logic backs away.

  • I was trying to make them face their fears. Youth spends so much energy trying to forget them. There's the fear of failure in examinations, fear of sex, fear of not getting a job, fear of unpopularity, fear of appearing naïve. Youth discovers many bunkholes in which to hide when frightened. They are mostly unhealthy, none of them bombproof.

  • Fear is concealed in smiles and flashing teeth. 'Please say you still love me,' the kings and queens are really saying. And, when they fare badly, they return to their palaces and sleep fitfully.

  • ... fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.

  • Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.

  • The importance of fear as a factor in war-making cannot be overlooked, and can hardly be overestimated. Any politician can play on panic when he wishes to stampede a people into war.

    • A. Maude Royden,
    • "War and the Woman's Movement," in Charles Roden Buxton, ed., Towards a Lasting Settlement ()
  • Isn't the fear of pain next brother to pain itself?

  • The brave man is not he who feels no fear, / For that were stupid and irrational; / But he, whose noble soul its fear subdues, / And bravely dares the danger nature shrinks from.

  • Your fear of failure should never be greater than your fear of regret.

  • Fear is a slinking cat I find / Beneath the lilacs of my mind.

    • Sophie Tunnell,
    • "Fear," in William Stanley Braithwaite, ed., Anthology of Magazine Verse ()
  • I find so many things to fear and so few to hope ...

    • Dorothy Osborne,
    • in Sir Edward Abbey Perry, ed., Letters From Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple 1652-54 ()
  • ... I do not know that ever I desired anything earnestly in my life but 'twas denied me, and I am many times afraid to wish a thing merely lest my fortune should take that occasion to use me ill.

    • Dorothy Osborne,
    • 1652, in G.C. Moore Smith, Letters of Dorothy Osborne to William Temple ()
  • Fear colludes with our most conservative self and allows us to stop before we try, dismiss before we think, mock before we imagine.

    • Carol Lloyd,
    • in Maria Girsch and Charlie Girsch, Inventivity ()
  • Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small.

  • Fear is a basic emotion; it's part of our native equipment, and like all normal emotions, it has a positive function to perform. Comforting formulas for getting rid of anxiety may be just the wrong solution. Books about 'peace of mind' can be bad medicine. To be afraid when one should be afraid is good sense.

  • They who go in terror, friend, / Lose the lives they never spend.

    • Eleanor Farjeon,
    • "There Be Those," Songs for Music and Lyrical Poems ()
  • When you're frightened don't sit still, keep on doing something. The act of doing will give you back your courage.

  • Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them.

  • Risk always brings its own rewards: the exhilaration of breaking through, of getting to the other side; the relief of a conflict healed; the clarity when a paradox dissolves. Whoever teaches us this is the agent of our liberation. Eventually we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.

  • What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?

  • You are destined to fly, but that cocoon has to go.

  • Fear is merciless.

  • The fears of what may come to pass, / I cast them all away, / Among the clover scented grass, / Among the new-mown hay.

  • How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.

  • Desire for gain and fear of loss burn like fire.

  • ... just as a child is born without fear, so is it born without prejudice. Prejudice, like fear, is acquired.

  • ... fear crept in and became a permanent lodger.

  • I've never felt that fear is my enemy. Fear is my friend. It offers me a chance to stay alert, keep growing, continue creating something new. If you don't take that sort of risk, you learn nothing.

    • Eartha Kitt,
    • in Beth Benatovich, ed., What We Know So Far ()
  • ... become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.

    • Lady Bird Johnson,
    • in Jean Flynn, Lady: A Biography of Claudia Alta (Lady Bird) Johnson ()
  • ... in mad people fear goes on constantly, night and day, wearing one ditch in the mind that all thoughts must travel in.

  • Anything that Maggie did not understand she feared; and anything she feared she derided.

  • People fear what they don't know or understand, and what they fear long enough, they also begin to hate.

  • ... fear cannot exist when one is indifferent to life.

  • All dread those things they don't understand ...

  • Fear is the friction in all transitions.

  • In addition to the havoc it causes in the human body, fear strangles personality, murders logic, humor, and the ability to love.

  • Nothing so withers fear as examination. No one should ever be afraid alone. It is the worst form of loneliness and the most corrosive.

  • I was the kind of child who always poked around wherever there was fear: to see what kind of a creature fear was.

    • Luisa Valenzuela,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 2 ()
  • Fear is for the old. Lack of it is one of the joys of youth.

  • At last, deathly tiredness drained him of all apprehension; so might a man fall asleep half-an-hour before he was to be woken by a firing squad.

  • He who is in the grasp of the cobra can smile at the lightning's forked tongue.

  • Fear nothing, for every renewed effort raises all former failures into lessons, all sins into experience.

  • ... kill the snake of doubt in your soul, crush the worms of fear in your heart and mountains will move out of your way ...

  • My fear was like a stray dog, roving the neighborhood of my life, looking for a new source of worry.

    • Danzy Senna,
    • in Oprah Winfrey, O's Guide to Life ()
  • There are undoubtedly people born without nerves who are afraid of nothing and do not know what fear is. They are lucky, but somehow people without imagination of any kind lose a great deal of the adventure in living.

    • Lady Diana Shedden,
    • in Lady Diana Shedden and Lady Viola Apsley, To Whom the Goddess ()
  • The fright of falling is ten times worse than the fright in falling.

    • Lady Diana Shedden,
    • in Lady Diana Shedden and Lady Viola Apsley, To Whom the Goddess ()
  • Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment — or unlearning — of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.

  • Fear has been a staple of advertisers and politicians for so long that you'd think we would have become better at detecting their use of it. But fear and insecurity can still cloud our judgment. To put the lesson in a nutshell, 'If it's scary, be wary.'

    • Kathleen Hall Jamieson,
    • in Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, UnSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation ()
  • It's fear that makes us lose our conscience.

  • ... only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.

  • My mother always says that fear and pain are immediate, and that, when they're gone we're left with the concept, but not the true memory.

  • The path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire — the light of daring, burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain. The more he fears, the more that light shall pale.

  • Never listen to fear! Fear makes you stupid.

  • Fear is a pair of handcuffs on your soul.

    • Faye Dunaway,
    • in Ryan D'Agostino, Esquire the Meaning of Life: Wisdom, Humor, and Damn Good Advice ()
  • Fear and shame are the backbone of my self-control. They are my source of inspiration, my insurance against becoming entirely unacceptable. They help me do the right thing. And I am terrified of what I would be without them. Because I suspect that, left to my own devices, I would completely lose control of my life. I'm still hoping that perhaps someday I'll learn how to use willpower like a real person, but until that very unlikely day, I will confidently battle toward adequacy, wielding my crude skill set of fear and shame.