THE BLOG
09/06/2012 08:57 am ET | Updated Nov 06, 2012

Be Fearless: Find Certainty in the Midst of Uncertainty

Fear is about uncertainty. It's about not being able to predict what will happen next. This unpredictability breeds anxiety.

And in the midst of uncertainty, fearless people react very differently than fearful ones do. Take the ups and downs of the stock market as an example. The stock market is extremely volatile. Countries are on the verge of defaulting on their debts, and the economy is in bad shape. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been known to tumble 300, 400, 500 or more points a day.

Many people understandably find this quite scary. After all, the volatility makes predicting the market nearly impossible. People worry: Will stocks tumble even more? Will I lose my life savings? Will we go back into recession? Is this a sign of another Great Depression?

What I find interesting is how differently some people react to the stock market's volatility than others. Fearful people generally have one of two reactions. One is a form of denial. They ask people not to talk about the stock market because they find the news too "anxiety-provoking." They essentially put their hands over their eyes and their heads in the sand. Other fearful people do the opposite. They tend to gossip about it. They post updates on Facebook about it and then nervously talk to friends about it.

Fearless people, however, do something different. They don't jump to conclusions or panic. Instead, they read reliable financial news, they call their brokers, and they compile statistics. They look at the big picture. They learn as much as they can about the world economy and the stock market in general. This information allows them to create some certainty in the midst of an uncertain situation.

It's the same with any type of uncertainty. For example, whenever I see clients who are afraid of flying, I get them to learn as much as they can about the mechanics of flying. The more they know, the more they understand and the less uncertain they feel. Health problems are the same. The more you can learn about a possible diagnosis, the less uncertain you will feel and the less fear you will have.

Think about it: How do you react to uncertainty? Do you react by being a good researcher and trying to find out what you need to know so you can make better predictions? Or do you react by putting your hands over your ears or by gossiping and spreading rumors? Be fearless and find certainty in the midst of uncertainty.

For more by Jonathan Alpert, click here.

For more on becoming fearless, click here.