Fear is a powerful motivator. It can make us run at lightning speed, slow time down or speed it up, and give us superhuman strength. In its proper place, fear can be a formidable tool. Out of context, it can be debilitating, and lead to negative consequences on many different levels.

Sadly, we live in a fear-based society. We’re bombarded with fear-based messages from all sides—from television programs, from radio, from social media. We get the news and from our “entertainment,” but most of all we get if from advertising. Advertising presents a steady stream of fear-based messages, from the blatant—“ask your doctor about this drug (and if you don’t, you’re risking your health)” to the extremely subtle, and the most subtle form of fear-mongering of all is to instill in us a fear of need.

The poet Gibran says of fear of need:

Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst which is unquenchable?

Needs can be filled—thirst can be quenched, thirst satisfied. But fear of need creates a hole which can never be filled, a gnawing hunger for more that can never be satisfied. Since there is no real need, the need can never be filled, but which we will go to great lengths to try to gratify. Fear of need is what motivates us to buy car insurance, but it’s also the thing which spurs us to cook more food than we can eat in one meal, to own 10 pairs of shoes, to trade in our cars every two years.

Fear of need is a much more insidious and destructive state than simple need itself. Relax. Examine your motives. There is really nothing to fear.