I am enjoying Ilgner's perspective and your commentary quite a bit. So, climbing is not much different than facing anything in life, or life in general. Fear-- most of it more in our own heads-- sets limitations on what is possible. (Ricky, GO TO CHINA BY YOURSELF!!!) Blake called it "Mind forg'd manacles".
Good judgement and common sense are, of course, essential in life, but especially so when climbing (if the accident stats are right and more people rappel/lower off their ropes. . .) but once you get educated, work your way through the grades and learn how to make good judgements, you certainly minimize the risk. Sport climbing has certainly made it where it's so safe, sometime lack of fear is the biggest risk (and I did learn this lesson the hard way, via gravity!). . .
Now I feel the opposite! I simply don't want to risk a fall . . . with the bit of first-hand knowledge of what an injury can cost! and damn! age! it just takes so long to heal these days, even from the gym. . .
Another lesson learned was-- let go and just be with it now-- don't even look at the 20 year olds in the gym and don't even try to compete with a 30-year-old me! I'm less focused on climbing "hard" now, and more focused on other aspects of climbing and even *gasp* non-climbing endeavors! Sometimes I look at old photos of myself before I had these "irrational" fears and I think, yeah, it would be great to climb like that again. . . but I have to enjoy climbing where I am now
And the nice thing is, I end up having such a great time! meeting amazing people, getting out to such beautiful places . . . that I am more motivated to train, which makes me more comfident on the rock. . . which helps break down those little irrational fears. . .
And you are right, awareness (of where we are and what our fears are and what healthy caution is), which takes a conscious effort and some honesty, is a big step.
Community! Adventure! Challenge! Fun! Enjoy!