Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fear is Not Always Bad

“I am scared,” Rusty said to his scoutmaster as he started to use a scroll saw. This is a difficult thing for a boy to admit to a man.

“Being scared is a good thing” was the scoutmaster’s surprising reply. I expected him to tease Rusty or to tell Rusty that there was not reason to be afraid. He stood behind the eleven year old, instructing him and guiding him as he cut. “See, when we get scared, it helps us to be more alert and more cautious. And when you are using a saw that could cut you, being alert is a good thing. So fear can be good” he explained.

I observed this conversation at Rusty’s scout meeting when they were working on a project that required that they used real tools. This was one of the requirements for Rusty to complete to earn his Craftsman badge and ultimately the Weblo Badge.

I thought about the conversation when I read The Swiss Cheese Theory of Life. There was one section about the benefits of stress. According to the authors, stress can be a good thing. Things that are more stressful can help us to be more alert, to try harder and to not make as many mistakes. Stress is brought about by change, a necessary part of life. Without stress, there would be no growth. As long as these things are kept to a manageable level, stress can be a tool for success.

I had never looked at it that way. I had always perceived fear and stress as negative emotions. But in her article "The Good Side of Stress", Melinda Moyer states that too little stress can lead to a bored and unmotivated person.

Preventing the unnecessary stress was the idea behind posting a Stress Relief Suggestion every Monday. I know that some stress can be avoided. Through planning and organization, we can prevent unnecessary stress in our lives and prevent mishaps. This will leave a person free for the healthy stress that is experienced. I will continue to post the Stress Relief Suggestions, but it will be with a different outlook.

Rusty did an excellent job using the scroll saw, under the direction and guidance of his scoutmaster. He faced his fear, and was alert. He completed his wind-chime project successfully and got closer to receiving his badge.

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins


  1. I never thought about good vs bad stress. This was an enlightening article. I'm thankful I was able to read and internalize it.

  2. Thank you for stopping by, Pamela. May all of your stress be of the positive type. Amen.