Risk, Fear and Worry and USMLE Prep

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In order to get ahead in life, it is important to take advantage of opportunities. But, opportunities always carry with it a certain amount of risk. A potential for failure. And the greater the opportunity the greater the risk. In fact, anything worth doing has a potential for failure. Whenever we do something new, something we have not done before, or get out of our comfort zone, we are taking a risk.
A natural response to risk is fear. Fear is our reaction to  uncertainty, to the unknown, to the possibility of failure and it is normal not just among humans but also with other animal species. It is the result of millions of years of evolution and is hard wired into our system. In response to any threat to life and limb, chemicals flood our system triggering the fight or flight phenomenon, which in an older more dangerous world kept our ancestors alive.
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In the modern world, however, while risk is a real and an external threat, it does not pose an imminent danger to life and limb. But, our body still responds with fear and since there is nothing to fight or to run away from, the chemicals flooding our system overwhelm us and instead trigger our imagination. Which leads to Worry. We start imagining everything that could possibly go wrong, which increases the threat (but only in our imagination) which in turn increases the fear and a vicious cycle is started.

Worry is unique among our species. It is the mental agony we put ourselves in, imagining all the different ways things could go wrong and all the different ways to avoid those disastrous outcome. And failing that, we undergo all the mental contortions to figure out all the possible ways to survive in case any one of those disastrous outcome do come true.

Risk, fear and worry are not the same thing. And the earlier we realize that, the better chance we have of taking advantage of our opportunities and succeeding. Of getting out of our comfort zone and accomplishing tasks that we need done.

Taking the USMLE is a risk. There is always the possibility of failure. And with the possibility of failure comes fear, which is a natural response to risk. Fear in small doses is good as it keeps us on our toes. But when fear progresses to worry and becomes obsessive that is when problems truly start. We start second-guessing ourselves. We get discouraged. We find it harder and harder to get up everyday and do what we need to do to succeed.

Although fear is a natural response to risk, worry isn’t. And disconnecting the link between fear and worry is important to succeed in life. To get ahead and take advantage of opportunities. We need to stop the fear from becoming obsessive. From progressing to worry.

We need to …

… Stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong and think of all the things that will go right.
… Stop thinking about all the reasons  why it would fail and start thinking about the one reason why it will succeed.
… Stop thinking about how failing will destroy your life and start thinking how success will change it for the better.

One last thing, avoid negative people and surround yourself with positive people. Man is a social creature and fear is infectious. So is courage and confidence. Being with fearful and negative people will infect you with fear and negativity. Surrounding yourself with confident and positive people will increase your own confidence and positivity.

So stop worrying and start succeeding. As the lyrics of an old song goes …

“Here’s a little song i wrote,
you might want to sing it note for note,
don’t worry, be happy
in every life we have some trouble,
when you worry you make it double
don’t worry, be happy “

Don’t worry, be happy.

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