TAGR #14: The Six Basic Fears

There are six basic fears, with some combination of which every human suffers at one tune or another. Most people are fortunate if they do not suffer from the entire six. Named in the order of their most common appearance, they are:—

The fear of POVERTY

The fear of CRITICISM

The fear of ILL HEALTH


The fear of OLD AGE
The fear of DEATH”

So now we come to the last chapter of this amazing book, where Napoleon Hill lays out the success secrets he extracted from the study and direct observation of five hundred of the most successful men in American history.    If you were to try to extract the core meaning from this book, you could do far worse than the following quote:


What blocks us, more than anything else? Fear.  Fear makes us refuse to admit we have dreams, keeps us from studying those who have achieved them with a mind to modeling, stops us from committing, stifles imagination, prevents us from focusing and organizing, blocks the flow of ideas from conscious to unconscious and in general screws everything up…if you let it.

We’ve talked about ways to banish fear, and ways to live with the fear you have. Even to use fear as a motivator (“put your fear behind you, your love in front of you, and run like hell!”)

But one way or another, you are going to need to deal with this…and so will a community.  Let’s look at these six and how they relate to both, shall we?

1) Fear of poverty.  That fear can prevent you from taking pleasure in your life, and taking risks.  If you are not wealthy, and fear poverty, you can easily create or accept negative beliefs about your condition that justify your current status but prevent you from moving forward.  If you think “they” are stopping you, you might easily hallucinate all of the pain or injury you will encounter if you step out of your social role.  And considering the history of achievers being slapped down by systemized racism, this isn’t an illusion.  It might be out of date, but anyone who says you have no barriers to accomplishment just aren’t looking at how important role models are in performance.

2) Fear of criticism.   Again, if your family or community believes you cannot succeed because of systemic issues, you can get isolated, rejected, or slapped down if you stand up too tall. I was told point blank that “black people don’t write” by BLACK people.  Rejected by attractive women because they thought I was wasting my intelligence.  That was just ugly painful.

3) Fear of ill health.   This can make us seek security, cause fear of leaving a job with good insurance.   The mind can cripple your physical dynamism, which is closely related to optimism and creative energy.  I was driving down in the Crenshaw district in Los Angeles recently, and didn’t see a single grocery store.  Nice big Krispy Creme, however.   There are very real economic barriers that create this situation, and you pretend there aren’t at your own risk.

4) Fear of Loss of Love.   Your love partner is a hugely powerful influence on you, and if their mind is limited, they can poison your dreams. You need someone who can dream with you, or THEIR fears will enter YOUR mind.  NO ONE HAS MORE INFLUENCE ON YOU THAN THE PERSON YOU SLEEP WITH.   Be very very careful.  The “I will withhold sex if you don’t agree with me” message is both consciously and unconsciously present in MOST relationships IMO.  Its a tough one, and only if you love yourself enough that you don’t need love from others to be whole can you rise above this.   Only someone unafraid of being alone can really have a healthy non-co-dependent relationship with another adult.

5) The fear of Old Age.  Fear that opportunity has passed you by, and that it is too late to pursue your dreams. What are your role models of aging?  Are they still dynamic and optimistic?  Or setting into their dotage, and filled with regret and pain?  “I’m too young” and “I’m too old” are both common reasons to “not try.”   

6) The fear of Death.  Well, there you have it. Most of these are some version of fear of death.  Fear of social rejection expels you from the tribe.  Fear of loss of love is fear of genetic extinction, and loss of primary partner.  Poverty brings death and disease.  Criticism denies resources and companionship.

Old age is death’s next door neighbor.   

I think that you are best advised to deal with this one directly. To look at all the ways that people let their fear of death interfere with their lives and dreams, and then deal with it directly.  This subject could be a lifetime study, but frankly Epicurus’s quote made massive sense to me when I was a kid:

Why should I fear death?
If I am, then death is not.
If Death is, then I am not.
Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?

In other words, there either IS or IS NOT something after death.   Work through this in your mind until you can deal with either concept, or that fear will sneak up on you.  Religion is a bulwark for many. As are charitable or artistic works, families, and so forth. Find your own way, imagining your last moments and allowing the emotions which arise to simply arise.  Don’t let them dwell in the darkness.

This is hard work, harder than most people imagine. I’m not at all sure you can vanquish fear on this level, but you can make your peace with it, this I know for certain.  And you can make your fear of death motivate you to adventure, accomplishment, calculated risk, refusal to be have or do less than your absolute best in the time you have.

That you can do.

We’re going to go deeper into these principles, but the application of fear of death has to be addressed directly in relation to race relations.

Slaves who displayed too much independence were beaten, broken, or killed.  Fear of death as the result of disobedience or independent thought was a constant companion.  After emancipation, blacks who acted equal to white people were broken or killed all too often.  Those who believe “Black Lives Matter” protesters do not actually believe there is differential systemic violence on racial grounds are, IMO, simply ignorant.  But there are others who KNOW that this violence exists, and are simply lying because it fits their agenda.  These are monsters, and you know who you are.

And I would say that we now have the very first generation that has actually proclaimed themselves totally equal, and are willing to stand up and dare you to say they are not.  There will be violence against them, but so what?  Everyone dies.  And if you have the Warrior energy in your heart it is better to die not merely on your feet…but meeting force with force.

I’ve had threats directed at me, direct and indirect, physical and digital and financial, much of my life.  Just in the last couple of  years, since I started being more direct about these issues, I’ve had white people tell me I would “reap the whirlwind” (!), warn me about how tough and dangerous white people are, martial art won’t stop bullets, and on and on.

Yawn.  Wow. I could die.  Not much of a surprise to someone who has lost both parents and about half the people he grew up with,  y’know?  Try something else.  Better yet, save your breath.   “We won’t approve of you, love you, support you, buy your books, yada yada yada” if I continue to say things that “make them feel uncomfortable.”   Well, I’m sorry you feel uncomfortable, but YOU made yourself feel that way, using my words to hurt yourself.  All I can say is that if that is really how you feel?  If you’d been born black you would absolutely DETEST white people.  I know that attitude, those thought patterns, and boy oh boy when someone with those weaknesses is actually born into a disadvantaged position it destroys them.

The people who would do well with having been born black? IMO those with the strength and compassion to see the world as it is, to preserve their sense of self while simultaneously extending compassion to others.

If you are overcome with fear merely by the discussion of history, even though I say again and again and again, in hundreds of thousands or MILLIONS of words, that I consider humanity a unified family, with no superiority or inferiority on either side, and that our differences in behavior were caused by happenstance of history…

You are a weakling. A coward. And while I am sorry for your discomfort, I have zero interest in catering to it.  Life is too short, and there is too much to do.  But…I love you anyway.  It’s not your fault.  You’re doing the best you can with the resources you have.

But man oh man, if I were you I’d fall on my knees every night and give fervent thanks that I was born white.  Seriously.  You dodged a bullet.




One comment

  1. Thank you for writing these. I am far more afraid of serious illness, of being alone and helpless than I am of death. I’ve done volunteer hospice work since 1986 and death and I are long term dance partners. Poverty in the US is something that the middle class fears, but I’ve done it a couple times and it is survivable. Poverty in West Africa would be frightening. My absolute greatest fear at this moment in time is losing another child to vigilance, be it thier own hand or another’s. Your work helps me get up and keep going on the worst days. Put that in a back memory pocket for your own bad times. What you do is invaluable for the people meant to understand it.
    Namaste, France


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