The Mindful Survey: What about Fear?

What’s scarier—balloons popping, colonoscopies, or dying? Readers share their deepest and their silliest fears.

ifh85/Dollar Photo Club

How do you cope with things that scare you? survey graph: how do you cope with things that scare you?

• I tell myself it’s okay to feel fear and that it’ll go away on its own: 17%
• I rationalize my fears away: 16%
• I meditate: 14%
• Don’t know—I get a bit preoccupied by fear: 13%
• I end up blaming myself and getting frustrated for not being able to deal with it: 13%
• I talk to a family member or friend—asking for help is the best way through fear: 11%
• I remind myself I’m bigger than they are: 5%

What do you do when you encounter something that really scares you?

30% Can’t move an inch—but they’re dying to get away. Thankfully, another 24% have already made it outta the room! 13% have a compulsion to get their feet off the floor—especially in a theater, and 10% scream like a bear cub calling for its mother.

Some answers we liked:

• Hold my breath
• DO SOMETHING—move, yell, grab my husband!
• Get aggressive and go straight at it
• Cry
• My hands start to tremble and I try to do what is required
• Swear…and loudly!
• Get in my Muay Thai stance.
• Check it out in a sneaky way
• Check my emotion against what is happening

It’s dark. You’re home alone. There’s an abrupt and loud noise from the other room. What do you do?

70% Say they’d better check it out—it’ll drive them crazy if they don’t. 20% say whatever, something probably fell, back to Netflix. 2% are convinced it’s an alien invader. (Everyone else is wondering if the cat damaged something.)

Are you a scaredy-cat?

Yes: 30%
No: 70%

chipmunk with shower cap and towel

dimj/Dollar Photo Club

What is your biggest fear? Some answers we liked:

• Birds…
• Being wrong
• Gun violence
• The deep ocean (have you seen the photographs?!)
• The rabbits from the Watership Down cartoon
• My ex-wife, then spiders
• Colonoscopy

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’re afraid of?

• Touching toothpaste—it makes my skin crawl
• Open closet doors
• Clusters of very small things, like bell pepper seeds. Weird, I know
• I was once trapped in a bathroom with a chipmunk. It was jumping. I was screaming and giggling but not actually having fun
• Balloons popping
• Escalators when I can’t hold on with my hand

Which would you rather handle?

66%: Visceral scary stuff
33%: Interpersonal scary stuff

bell pepper open with seeds showing

robyelo357/Dollar Photo Club

What’s the scariest nightmare you ever had?

• I met a talking lion.
• Dying, and being aware of it
• Having to return to finish my Ph.D.
• My daughter was pregnant. She’s 12.
• Hundreds of alligators were trying to enter my house through every opening.
• I was cut up into small cubes and reassembled, but some of the cubes were put back in the wrong place.
• A zombie ate my right hand. I’m a piano teacher.
• Walking through a carnival in a rough area of town where skins of other people were hanging on hooks and we could try them on.

This article also appeared in the April 2016 issue of Mindful magazine.
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