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Quotations about Fear

Doubts and fears are the heaviest burdens. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Panic at the thought of doing a thing is a challenge to do it. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Three-fourths of Life," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

I would have given anything for the power to soothe her frail soul, tormenting itself in its invincible ignorance like a small bird beating about the cruel wires of a cage. Nothing easier than to say, Have no fear! Nothing more difficult. How does one kill fear, I wonder? How do you shoot a spectre through the heart, slash off its spectral head, take it by its spectral throat? ~Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim: A Romance, 1899

Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others.  ~Herald and Presbyter, 1907

Little fears love to walk on stilts. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Apophthegms," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

I dread the events of the future, not in themselves, but in their results. I shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial, incident, which may operate upon this intolerable agitation of soul. I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect—in terror. In this unnerved—in this pitiable condition—I feel that I must inevitably abandon life and reason together, in my struggles with the grim phantasm, FEAR. ~Edgar A. Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 1839  [This wording is a combination of the original 1839 and later revisions. —tg]

The excitement of action conquers fear. But suspense is horrible. ~"A Night Never To Be Forgotten," in Putnam's Monthly, November 1855

Fear causes inaction. Inaction causes pain. QED, fear causes pain. ~Sleepy Hollow, "For the Triumph of Evil," 2013, teleplay by Jose Molina  [S1, E3, Ichabod Crane to Abbie Mills]

It makes a great difference how you approach a difficulty. Obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them, if you stand and hesitate, if you take your eyes from theirs, they are liable to spring upon you; but if you do not flinch, if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight. So difficulties flee before absolute fearlessness... ~Orison Swett Marden, "Minimizing Difficulties," The Optimistic Life, or: In the Cheering-Up Business, 1907

But to fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another. ~Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved, 1980

...fatal demon of fear... ~Edgar A. Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 1839

He is never happy whose thoughts always run with his fears. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

Now that I had nothing to do, my imagination started to get active again. I had experienced fear in the past often enough to know how easily it can return to create havoc in a mind dwelling on danger, particularly when its owner is physically inactive. But constructive thought will maintain reason; this was one of the few beneficial lessons learned during six years of war in Europe. To be alive and bodily unscathed is not enough if the imagination is allowed to turn the brain into mush... So I trained myself to think positively whenever I was idle while perched on the edge of oblivion. ~R. D. Lawrence (1921–2003), The North Runner, 1979

...and where there is death in a thousand forms, we die of fear itself. ~Richard de Bury (1287–1345)

You can't let fear direct your life — because then you don't really move, you just stand still. And that's no life to live. ~Nyla Gibson, on Extreme Weight Loss, S2, E5, 2012

Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pools and put our finger near the soft, open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. Everything spontaneously does that. It's not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share. We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold on to. ~Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart, 1997,

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom, in the pursuit of truth as in the endeavor after a worthy manner of life. ~Bertrand Russell

I was walking in the night
And I saw nothing scary,
For I have never been afraid
Of anything. Not very.
~Dr. Seuss, "What was I Scared of?," Sneetches and Other Stories, 1961

It is less degrading to fear than to be feared. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

The timid man sees dangers that do not exist. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

Fear cannot take what you do not give it. ~Christopher Coan, @cscoan, February 2010 winner of The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

Fearlessness burns its bridges behind; fear, the bridges before. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Fear always comes back to curse its authors. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before... You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. ~Eleanor Roosevelt, "Fear — The Great Enemy," You Learn By Living, 1960's okay to be afraid. Fear is just your feelings asking for a hug. ~My Name Is Earl, "South of the Border: Part Uno," 2006, written by Michael Pennie  [S2, E10, Joy]

He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don't turn your back upon your doctrinal doubts and difficulties. Go up to them and examine them. Perhaps the ghastly object which looks to you in the twilight like a sheeted ghost may prove to be no more than a table-cloth hanging upon a hedge. ~A. H. Boyd

What we fear comes to pass more speedily than what we hope. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

Fear is one part prudence. ~Proverb

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead. ~Bertrand Russell

Replace fear with gratitude, and your whole world changes. ~Terri Guillemets, "A renewed outlook," 2007

Fear makes us feel our humanity... ~Benjamin Disraeli

Don't let your throat tighten
with fear. Take sips of breath
all day and night...
~Rumi, interpreted by Coleman Barks

Fear, as everybody ought to be aware, is intrinsically one of the most useful of emotions. It is an instinct implanted in us as a prime aid in the struggle for existence... The trouble is that fear has a great tendency to function to excess... ~H. Addington Bruce, Psychology and Parenthood, 1915

Fear cannot conquer the mind if the heart teaches it how to live strong. ~Sarah Heintze, @Selly06, February 2010 entry to The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

Fear is untrust of the process of life. ~Terri Guillemets

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. ~German proverb

"Hudson believes," continued Pyle, disdainful of the annoyance, "that if a man harbors any sort of fear, no matter how benign and apparently harmless, it percolates through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him landlord to a ghost..." ~Lloyd C. Douglas, Magnificent Obsession, 1929

A man afraid of death will never play the part of a live man. ~Seneca, "On Tranquility of Mind," translated by Moses Hadas

Fear has big eyes. ~Proverb

It is fear that holds men back — fear lest their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should prove harmful, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have supposed themselves to be... Hope, not fear, is the creative principle in human affairs. All that has made man great has sprung from the attempt to secure what is good, not from the struggle to avert what was thought evil. ~Bertrand Russell, "Education," Why Men Fight: A Method of Abolishing the International Duel, 1917

When the Sun sets, shadows, that shew'd at Noon
But small, appear most long and terrible;
So, when we think Fate hovers o'er our Heads,
Our apprehensions shoot beyond all bounds,
Owls, Ravens, Crickets seem the watch of death,
Nature's worst Vermine scare her God-like Sons.
Ecchoes the very leavings of a Voice,
Grow babling Ghosts, and call us to our Graves:
Each Mole-hill thought swells to a huge Olympus,
While we fantastick Dreamers heave and puff,
And sweat with an Imagination's weight...
~John Dryden, Oedipus

Fear is very subtle. When fear goes up, intuition goes down. When your intuition goes down, you stop making good decisions. ~Francesco Garri Garripoli, "Immune System Building with Qigong in Corona Virus Times," 2020,

Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination.  ~Ernest Hemingway, Men at War, 1942

...but fear is an incompetent teacher. ~Star Trek: Picard, "Et In Arcadia Ego, Part 2," 2020, teleplay by Michael Chabon  [S1, E10, Jean-Luc Picard]

I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins,
That almost freezes up the heat of life...
~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, c.1594  [IV, 3, Juliet]

Fear never advanced any man to the highest standing. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

Listen to the little voice of doubt only if it has something insightful to say, not if it's just spouting fear. ~Terri Guillemets

Those that walk with fear will always be too busy hiding. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2012

Fear cannot destroy your dreams, only you can. ~Michelle Kurka, @mnkurka, February 2010 entry to The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

Fear is a slinking cat I find
Beneath the lilacs of my mind.
~Sophie L. Tunnell (1884–1936)

It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more. ~J. K. Rowling, "The Cave," Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2005  [Dumbledore —tg]

I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story... ~Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, 2012

The word phobic has its place when properly used, but lately it's been declawed by the pompous insistence that most animosity is based upon fear rather than loathing. No credit is given for distinguishing between these two very different emotions. I fear snakes. I hate computers. ~David Sedaris, "," Me Talk Pretty One Day, 2000,

[F]ear can be induced the sympathetic way from man to man. ~Wolfgang Langewiesche (1907–2002), "Knapsack of Salvation," I'll Take the High Road, 1939

Breathe in so much gratitude that there's no room for fear. ~Terri Guillemets

      Curiosity reduced Paul's fear to a manageable level... He recalled the response from the Litany against Fear as his mother had taught him out of the Bene Gesserit rite.
      "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
      He felt calmness return... ~Frank Herbert, Dune, 1965

All forms of worry and anxiety are in essence fear... ~William J. Fielding, "The Menopause — Beginning a New Epoch of Life," Sex and the Love-Life, 1927

Fear is advance panic of unexpected life. ~Terri Guillemets

Fear is the mother of foresight:  spiritual fear... temporal fear... ~Henry Taylor

Fear is the parent of cruelty. ~James Anthony Froude

Cruelty and fear are brothers. ~Proverbs by William Hardcastle Browne, 1900

Fear and courage are brothers. ~Terri Guillemets

Fear cannot be unless you let it be! ~Anu Ewebiyi, @anuewe, February 2010 entry to The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

A coward's heart panteth in his breast... ~Homer

Cowardice —
the great horror of mind,
gnawing and poisonous.
~Terri Guillemets, "Afraid," 2014, blackout poetry created from Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850

He who fears to suffer, suffers from fear. ~Proverb

Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. ~Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart, 1997,

There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice. ~Mark Twain

The wise man in the storm prays God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, journal, 1833 September 10th

To lead is difficult when you're a follower of fear. ~Terri Guillemets

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