Fear has an acrostic: False Evidence Appearing Real. It’s often quoted to help people banish their imaginary fears. Clever and creative in its construction, it is often misunderstood in its application. Let me explain.

Essentially, there are two kinds of fear. One kind is the feeling we get when we’re physically threatened. It’s the feeling we have if we’re about to be run over by a car when crossing the road. It’s the kind of fear that shouts: run, dodge, dive or get out of the way. Clearly there’s nothing imaginary about that, and no need for the acrostic.

The other kind of fear is in our heads. It’s the thoughts we hold about what might happen in the future, based on our imagination or experiences in the past. This ...

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