Why I’m Afraid of Heights

There’s actually nothing inherently frightening about heights. If anything, the adventure is intriguing and the general human spirit of curiosity should be aroused.

But what makes me afraid of heights is the fear of death.

Common actions such as tripping, falling over or shutting off an airplane engine at ground level are not all too haunting. At heights though, they could become deadly.

Likewise, asking a person out on a date is not inherently a scary process for most people (Although there are a few people I imagine who literally and inherently are afraid of talking.) For the rest of us, the real fear lies in the potential rejection that may follow such invitations. And the fear of rejection is, in turn, likely a fear of sadness. Nobody wants to be sad.

And take for example the idea of setting your palm flat on a hot stove. Something most reasonable people would not do on purpose. Are we afraid of the stove though? No, we are afraid of the pain caused by touching a hot surface.

It’s important in life to dig a little deeper. Fears are easier to deal with when you actually know what you’re afraid of. This allows us to better calculate our decisions. Cost vs. benefit is always in action.

For example, we have established heights are actually a pretty cool experience. The idea that man can fly in an airplane is incredible. I have no fear of flying. But I do have a fear of crashing and dying. And so I weigh my costs carefully; not to avoid flying, but to avoid death. I choose not to fly on an airline with a poor safety record or in bad weather. These decisions reduce the risk of my actions, increasing the rewards.

And when it comes to persuading that special someone that they deserve a lucky night out with you? It’s not logical to fear the action of asking someone a question, and so you do your best to control for the real fear of rejection. You only ask someone out if you feel there is a good chance they will say yes. The more certain you are they will say yes, the lower your risk and higher the potential reward.

You still use your stove, you are just careful not to come in contact with the hot surface.

I think you get the idea. The point I’m attempting to make here is that while cost vs. benefit plays a role in every decision we make, we often make many layers of calculations that weigh the risks and rewards before making our final choice. It’s important to be aware of all those singular decisions that we make.

There are of course fears in life that simply don’t have a logical explanation. We will never know why the image of Charlie Chaplin has haunted me since childhood.

But despite my fear of silent film actors, I can confidently say that I am not afraid of heights. Though the inherent risks of falling from those heights and splattering across the ground scare the crap out of me.

Random Fact: With 79.68 telephone lines per hundred people, Luxembourg has the highest ratio of telephone lines to people in the world.

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