This sequence of words from a century ago gives us a way to decode personal and rational fears into mere surmountable obstacles.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”-Marie Curie
Unlike many popularly overused quotes, these wise words from Maria Skłodowska are not overtly artsy, needlessly cryptic or pretentious by design. The message is concise with the end result being elegantly effective.
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes.
Better known as Marie Curie, she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and 1 of only 4 people to win 2 of them.
But perhaps what’s most impressive is she is still the only person in the Nobel Prize history of 116 years to have won in 2 different sciences. So she was a scientist.
She wasn’t a soldier, an operative or an adventurer. She was a lab rat, albeit an Einstein level one. So what did she know about conquering fear?
Science! Fear is a a change in metabolic and organ functions caused by chemicals released in our system which ultimately change our behavior. That’s science.
The anticipation of thought of being hurt in one way or another causes fear, not the actual pain associated with it but of it actually happening – a misunderstanding.
So mostly, fear comes from misconceptions and a lack of understanding. Misunderstanding or not knowing enough about the thing you fear, rational or irrational.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
You can overcome any fear by rationalizing it (especially irrational fears). Even things that are a clear and present danger. Nothing needs to be feared if you understand it. Broken down into its base parts or rawest element, nothing need be feared, at most, respected.
This is why this legendary scientist’s quote about fear makes sense, because that’s what scientists do, they seek knowledge and try to understand the unknown.
Marie Curie’s point is that the lack of knowledge is what causes fear and understanding it makes us fear less.
It’s obviously easier said than done, but at least now you know what needs to be done to deal with fear.