What is your biggest fear?
As part of fear week I started to wonder…what is the one thing that most people are afraid of?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any comprehensive list that ranked the top fears in the world, but I was able to find a few articles on what are some of the most common fears that people have.
Here are some of the fears that showed up on every list.
- Fear of Public Speaking
- Fear of Flying
- Fear of Spiders
- Fear of Heights
- Fear of Tight Spaces (Claustrophobia)
Are you afraid of any of those? If so, you are not alone.
Compared to the others I listed, public speaking is by far the least dangerous. But it is the one fear I’ve always had.
Spiders, flying, heights and tight spaces may actually be able to harm me, but I would gladly take any of those instead of speaking in front of a large group.
Just typing that sounds funny, but it is true for many people.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a great line on this topic. He says, “According to most studies, people’s number-one fear is public speaking. ‘Death’ is number two! Now, this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
Speaking to people is something we do everyday. So why are people more afraid of public speaking than death?
One answer might be found in a great book by Susan Cain titled, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In her book, Cain discusses one theory based on the writings of the sociobiologist E.O. Wilson that says, “when our ancestors lived on the savannah, being watched intently meant only one thing: a wild animal was stalking us.”
In other words, Cain says, “hundreds of thousands of years of evolution urge us to get the hell off the stage, where we can mistake the gaze of the spectators for the glint in a predator’s eye.”
I have never thought of it like this before, but I think Cain and E.O Wilson make a great point.
I guess, subconsciously I’ve always felt that it is better to be off the stage than on it because out of the limelight is where I feel safe.
Being watched intently is not a common thing for most people. We are no longer being watched intently by wild animals, but that doesn’t we like being watched.