I recently asked a friend to receive an electronic payment from me.  My friend was afraid to give out financial information online because it might lead to the emptying of all their bank accounts.

As a long time online consumer, this fear is irrational and I wanted to just tell them that it was safe and get over it.  Then I thought a little more and was wondering what is another common irrational fear?  I would say fear of flying would be one of them.  The web is full of websites and statistics that say things like you are more likely to die of a bee sting than from an airplane crash and yet people are still afraid of flying.

Why irrational fears do I have and what can I do about them?  Let's start with the second part of that question, what can we do about irrational fears?  As I think about that, I think a person with an irrational fear is looking for an external power to comfort them and then if things don't go right, they can blame the external power, instead of themselves.

Let's say I was able to convince my friend to do the online transaction and everthing went well, would that solve their fear?  Nope, no more than someone flying on a plane will miraculously cure their fear of flying.  The next time they fly, they will most likely still be afraid.  Now the idea of exposure can work and might take a long time.  It is possible that if someone were able to fly in an airplane twice per week, every week for 10 years that their fear may be less, though it is also possible that it will always be there and that if something ever did go wrong they would say "See I told you so."

For me, I'm pretty sure that if I am ever involved in a plane crash I will consider it an unfortunate accident and may be afraid to fly in the future, and that is something I would have to deal with then because statistically, the chance of getting in another accident is still as low as the first crash.

OK, so exposure is one way to get over fear and it may take a long time.  Another way is to find some technique to get over the fear.  To understand the situation rationally and then use some techniques to allow you to control your emotions during the event.

One idea I'm trying to expand on in my thinking is the idea of desperation.  Imagine if you have to jump a wide opening with a long drop.  In the first situation it is your friends pushing you to make the jump and assuring you that you can make it and nothing will go wrong.  You may continue to resist and then if you make the jump and hurt yourself, will blame your friends for forcing you to make the jump, despite the fact that you jumped on your own, they did not "force" you, they pressured you, though you voluntarily jumped.

Now think of another situation, you are running away from some danger, be it a forest fire, dangerous animal or human and the same jump must be made.  How much time would waste thinking about the jump and even if did get hurt, would your thinking be different?  Would you think "Well, I had no other choice, this was my only option.  Now what can I do?"

For me, I feel a big difference from being desperate to achieve a goal versus being afraid of the risks of the goals.  It sounds like it is the difference of focusing on the rewards versus the risks.  All activities have risks and rewards.  So, it's about increasing the rewards.

How could I have shown my friend about the rewards of doing the online payment?
 


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