Chris Hadfield and Re-wiring Fear

by Cord Culver on March 26, 2014

Earlier this week I discovered a TED talk that Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and all around awesome guy, recently gave focusing on overcoming fear. Hadfield’s theory is simple: if something scares you, research it, and then do it over and over and over again until it no longer scares you. As he puts it, you’re re-wiring your fundamental caveman brain. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

What are we most afraid of? Or more specifically, what am I most afraid of? Failure. Rejection. Loss. I don’t think I’m much different than anyone else. I’m sure, give or take death, those are the three big things we’re all afraid of. Obviously we can’t do anything about death, but the rest, we can do something about.

When you break it down, failure is nothing more than disappointment, and ultimately, if you’ve put everything you can into what you’re doing, there is no such thing as failure. If you take the approach that success lies in the process, then you will always succeed so long as you give it everything you’ve got. That’s what I tell myself when I think about being a dad. As long as I do the best that I can for my daughter, I’ll succeed as a father. Never mind that she could blow the whole thing up by becoming a stripper or getting pregnant at 15, but for my part, if I do the best I can, even if things don’t turn out exactly how I picture them, I will have succeeded in the end.

The same goes for rejection and loss. They’re all part of the same ugly animal: fear. Simply by showing up I am preventing and denying failure and rejection and loss from entering into my life. As long as I show up everyday and do the best that I can with what I have, everything will be all right.

These things are true for all of us. We fear being fired because we know we can be better workers. We fear being rejected on dates because we doubt our worth. We fear chasing our dreams because we fear the disappointment of failing. We get in our own way. So I say, look at what it is you fear and then run it the hell over. Move past it. Get over it. And do that thing, or be that person, or dare to ask that person out. Do it all. Afterwards there won’t be anything to be afraid.

I know it’s cliche advice our parents gave us as kids, but dammit if it ain’t the truth. And an astronaut validated it, so there might actually be something to it.

Please watch Hadfield’s TED talk; it’s fantastic.


Will Dutcher March 26, 2014 at 6:36 am

What if you’re afraid of getting punched in the dick? Do you gotta get punched in the dick a lot in order to get over it? I’d rather live in fear.

Everything else, I agree with. If you don’t take the chance, yourself, and be the catalyst for change or improve, you’ll never advance. Race car drivers can’t win the race if they don’t hit the gas. Getting over that fear (or in some cases just being lazy) and pushing yourself to do something is not a one-step process. It takes a lot of determination and dedication to stick to it. Some things are easier than others, naturally, but that’s the challenge. You have to push yourself, and in some cases, have friends and family that’ll push you too; not so much that you fall back down or lose the desire, but just enough to keep you motivated. It’s tough to find the right balance.

Good read, Cord!

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