“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
― Frederick Buechner
Fear is insidious. It undulates and creeps around like a viper. It whispers in our ears like the winds; howling and shaking and crying out. It demands our attention. It assumes control and commands there shall be no other gods before it.
Fear makes us think the unthinkable. It calls us to action at times and paralyzes us at others. It seizes all common sense and hijacks the imagination, forcing it to succumb to it’s will. Fear is irrational. It claims to be all-knowing, all-seeing. It promises to share it’s insight for it insists it knows the future. It will take care of you. It will provide you with thoughts to think, things to do, and people to hate. It offers so much but leaves only emptiness in it’s wake.
Fear grows rampant in this crazy world. It’s no wonder since it has been used as a means of control since the very beginning. Nothing motivates like fear and nothing can feed that mob mentality quite like it.
Throughout history there has never been a shortage of boogeymen. We have been taught to be afraid from the very beginning. Some of that fear has been benefical. Our early ancestors lived a life fraught with real life dangers, it paid off to be able to perceive threats and respond quickly and efficiently. The physical effects of fear itself such as a quick dose of Adrenalin gives us quicker reflexes to be able to try to outrun that Saber-tooth Tiger or fight it off.
Not all fear is bad. Some of it is fun. We can get a vicarious thrill by watching scary movies. Haunted houses are popular at Halloween which is a major holiday in The United States. People go to amusements parks for that same thrill. Facing danger without truly facing it can be quite exhilarating. Science has proven our brains really don’t know the difference between a real and not so real threat.
There are forces in this world which feed off our fears. They distract us and manipulate our thinking. We don’t need them but they need us. It’s a new threat played out on TV, the internet, and in advertising and print media…everywhere. It is fed to us and it’s difficult to know who or what to believe. In times of doubt and uncertainty we tend to believe the authority figures we are trained to obey. Governments, the media, religion and even your 5th grade teacher and dear old mom have used the tactics of fear on us at one time or another. But we are all grown up now and ready to face the truth, whatever that may be, not what someone tells us it is.
The only thing we have to fear….
Fear causes us to miss out on what is truly important to focus on the improbable. Most likely it will not be the object of our fears which will “get us” but something that hits from left field. If we have taken reasonable precautions in life there is nothing much more we can do to prevent that great unknown menace except for having a positive attitude. There is no logical reason to worry. At this point any concern is counter-productive.
That often quoted quote by FDR still rings true today maybe even more so.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fear can hurt you literally. Fear effects our physical and mental well-being. The most common physical reactions are a rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, sharpened or redirected senses and dilation of the pupils. Muscles tighten up and are primed with oxygen, in preparation for a physical fight-or-flight response.
Most of what we fear in this modern age we cannot fight or run away from. Many of us live with a certain amount of chronic fear, real or imagined. This weakens our immune system and can cause heart damage and gastrointestinal problems. Fear impairs the formation of long-term memories and causes damage to parts of the brain. This can make the impact so much worse because we lose the ability to regulate fear by rational thought. We are more susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions and our decision making processes are altered in negative ways.We are anxious, depressed, tired and old before our time.
“Is it useful to feel fear, because it prepares you for nasty events, or is it useless, because nasty events will occur whether you are frightened or not?”
― Lemony Snicket
Of course there are valid dangers in this world, much too many. It is within the realms of possibility, albeit a very slim possibility, I could walk out my front door and get hit by a meteorite. It is much more likely that I will proceed to my destination unharmed. Most of our fears are the meteorite-type ones; dramatic dangers, hideous and terrible with the infinitesimal odds of ever happening.
Most of us lead relatively uneventful lives and deaths. What are the chances of your typical average Josephine such as myself or you or anyone being killed in a terrorist attack, or from getting the “plague du jour”? Not likely, but it seems the dramatics of the very possibility can supersede reason.
Being a person who has been afraid of most everything for most of my life I can testify to the needlessness of fear and how it can control you and keep you from living life to it’s fullest. I can also say that it can be overcome. I know most have never been afraid to the extent of myself but I do know I can’t be the only one who has experienced this intense emotion. Any fear is valid because it feels that way to the one experiencing it and it’s difficult to step outside of an accustomed way of thinking. Face the dragon and the dragon will dissolve before your eyes. We are more powerful than we believe.
Have a fearless day,
You are about to enter SBI’s Gallery of FEAR!
Enter at your own risk…
References and related articles
The Bogeyman (Wikipedia) Bogeyman-like beings are almost universal, common to the folklore of many countries.