I’m firmly in this camp where feeling overly threatened by a game just makes me turn it off. When I see a hard mode, I automatically think, “Oh it’ll be too hard for me,” and switch it to normal (or easier) even though I’m a fairly experienced gamer.
Pete suggests that he is old and the reflexes are failing, but I submit another explanation: anyone in that age bracket grew up with Nintendo hard games that featured a lot of fake difficulty, and since everything has “RPG elements” now, fake longevity. We have seen “hard” done badly hundreds of times, versus some smaller number of good challenges.
If you tell me that this next mission is really hard, it could be because the developers have an interesting encounter that will force me to re-examine my usual tactics, react quickly, and understand complex patterns. It could also be that this next mission expects me to grind levels/gear for hours, memorize a Battletoads-like series of arbitrary dance moves, escort fast and suicidal NPCs, deal with a drunken camera, and/or guess the one trick someone thought would be a “clever puzzle.” Unless a trusted source tells me otherwise, I am likely to assume that “hard” means “unfair.” Someone has already consumed the benefit of that doubt a dozen times over.