Micro and Macro Fears

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the fears that I have in my life. I’ve been observing how they influence how I live each day, and also over the course of my life.

One of the things I realized is that I have both small and large fears. I call them Micro Fears and Macro Fears.

Micro Fears are the small pangs of hesitation, resistance or worry that we feel in our day-to-day lives. Micro Fears tend to come up in a moment, and they deliver us an acute awareness. Our bodies become tense and our brains slow down. I have noticed that Micro Fears are usually triggered by the environment, or a circumstance.

As a speaker, I feel this sense of Micro Fear every time I am about to step onto a stage. It is a few minutes of heightened pulse and a sense of alertness that overtakes me.

But what I have learned from delivering many speeches is that as soon as I start, the Micro Fear begins to subside. It becomes less of a threat and I start to feel confident that I can handle the situation.

I think these Micro Fears are actually somewhat healthy. They make us aware of our surroundings and help keep us safe from immediate danger. We can fight past them fairly easily and they subside when we take action in the moment.

Opposite to this, we also experience what I call Macro Fears.

Macro Fears are the big fears that start to take hold of us at some stage of our lives, and limit our overall life path. Let me share a personal example to try to explain what I mean.

About 10 years ago, I watched my parents lose an entire lifetime of accumulated wealth through a business failure. Through unfortunate circumstances, they lost their home, their savings and their sense of financial control all within a period of 12 months. My whole life, my parents had always been wealthy and powerful. Suddenly, they were almost broke and dependent on the kindness of friends and family.

Seeing my parents lose everything created a Macro Fear in me. It made me become extremely fearful of losing my financial stability. Almost immediately, I started to change my approach to business, and suddenly became very risk-averse. I looked for ways to build security and lowered the chances of the same thing happening to me.

My Macro Fear made me fear a financial loss at a very deep, unconscious level. So much so that my life-long entrepreneurial tendencies became overshadowed by my desire to be a secure employee.

It is only in the past year or two that I have been able to gather the courage to venture again into the realm of risk-taking in business. And as I have done it, the Macro Fear has been screaming at me, from the dark recesses of my mind to stop.

I believe that we all of have some version of these Macro Fears. They sometimes come through traumatic experiences, and sometimes they are conditioned into us over time.

When we are somehow frozen from taking a new action in our lives, I believe it is due to a Macro Fear. Something that holds us back at a deep level. We almost can’t understand why we can’t act. It keeps us safe from an irrational belief that is trying to ‘protect’ us.

The good news is that knowing about both types of fear is helpful. You can identify Micro Fears in the moment, take a deep breath and move through them.

When it comes to breaking through Macro Fears, you need to be gentle on yourself. You need to understand what caused the fear, and how it is trying to protect you. You need to be grateful for it, and slowly start to change your worldview to move past it.

Both types of fears require action. Your Macro Fears will need more time and consideration to move past. You have to stay in the fear until it starts to fade.

Fear is there to protect you, but facing it can also help you grow.
When you go into the fear, you will discover strength waiting on the other side.


2 thoughts on “Micro and Macro Fears

  1. What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing. I have an anxiety disorder, so I experience lots of Micro Fears in my life, sometimes several in one day.

    Fortunately, I haven’t experienced a lot of Macro Fears personally. However – My parents can identify with your situation – My mom’s dad was a businessman and got into a crooked, bad business deal in the early 1990s, and so much money vanished right before their eyes – My understanding was upwards of $100,000, from multiple parties / investors, if not more. It was devastating. As a child at the time, I was shielded from the immediate impact. I learned later what had happened, and I felt it on my 16th birthday, when my grandma sent a card with $20.00. She wrote, “We wanted to buy you a car, but we don’t have the money to do so.”

    I think the biggest Macro Fear that I have, currently, is my husband passing away. We’re a year and a half into our marriage – We’re very happy and building our home together. I’m currently working on him to go to the doctor for a check-up, and he claims that the doctor will “just tell him that he’s fat,” and I know that’s not the case. He works out and we’re trying to improve our health together, but the fear that he has diabetes, etc., is eating at me. It’s a slow process!

    1. Laura Beth, thank for your comment, and I am sorry I didn’t see it and reply earlier. Yes those macro fears have a way of creeping into our life and keeping us in place. Thank you sharing both your families struggle and also the fears around your husbands health. In my experience even getting a macro fear out in the open seems to lessen its power over you. I truly hope the new year makes you feel more secure and your husband’s health improves. Take care and thank you as always for your support! – DMS

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