What EXACTLY are we afraid of?
By Basee Saka
One little word – Pain – that’s what we’re afraid of. Pain is either emotional or physical.
Physicalwould cover things like, being bitten or stung by an animal or insect, being hit, having an accident, injections, surgery etc. However, it’s also temporary, we smart for a while then the sensation passes. Even that fear is often an imagined pain. We see, hear, read of someone having sustained an injury and how it affected them and we imagine what it must be like. I’ve never been stung by a bee. I don’t particularly want to experience it either. So when I see them coming, I keep an eye on them and make sure if they come around me I get rid of them. However, some people scream and run, often scaring the bee who then gets confused and ends up stinging someone.
I hear women talking about being scared of child birth because of some of the horror stories they’ve heard. Mice, sometimes no more than an inch and a half in length not including the tail and look at the reaction they get. Maybe it’s the scuttling that makes people uneasy. At the other end of the spectrum of things we are afraid of, is death and dying, which is physical primarily but the concept is emotional, not so much because our days on earth will have come to an end, but because we don’t know how it’s going to feel, fear of the unknown.
Emotional however, is very different. Most often the basis of emotional pain is loss and the changes it brings.
Loss of earnings means loss of material comforts, status, future plans; if you lose all of that, it will affect your self-concept. You think you are worthless after all the hard work you put in you have nothing to show for it, it hurts; PAIN.
Loss of loved ones either to death, or migration, either way they are going to leave a huge hole in your life, PAIN.
Loss of a relationship you dreamed of that house with the white picket fence, two point four children, his and hers cars, two holidays a year, now? Nothing; PAIN
Loss of face, you think people are talking about you behind your back, laughing at whatever your predicament might be or criticizing you, you are offended, it hurts; PAIN.
Loss of independence through disability, having to rely on others to help you, damaged pride; PAIN
Pain is the basis of all fear, be it actual or perceived. What if the mouse bites me? What if the spider crawls into my ears? What if I try and fail? What if I get sick? What if I break a bone? We put these types of questions first and in turn limit ourselves, our potential, our scope of resources.
In the first paragraph of his inaugural speech Franklin D Roosevelt said ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear its self’. Although he was talking about the Great Depression,- what is a life if it is controlled by fear?
In my opinion those of us who allow to that to happen are living our great depression. We will not be able to overcome hardship if we are afraid to risk our emotions, our status or our concepts. I read a question recently that asked ‘Are you willing at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you may become?’ Many of the answers were positive. In fact all of the answers were positive. Those people were embracing of change and not afraid of what it would mean to their own concepts of who they were and where they stood in life. However, there were a lot fewer responses than I expected. Maybe those who didn’t respond, realized that they weren’t not ready to part with the comfort of the familiar and head into the unknown.
So how do we deal with fear? How do we lessen its hold on us? It’s easy to say ‘don’t be afraid’ not that easy to put it into practice. Whenever faced with a situation where I have to make a decision that will have a huge impact on the direction my life is going in, I ask my one very simple question. What’s the worst thing that can happen? This one question has saved me from making some mistakes, and enabled me to experience things that have benefitted me spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and financially.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
If you fail an exam or a test the worst thing that can happen is that you have to put your plans on pause. You will have had the teaching but may not have retained the knowledge. So make sure you get feedback of where you didn’t do so well so that your next attempt will be better prepared for. You will have familiarity of the type of questions that are going to be asked, you will not have the unknown to contend with and you will have the chance to research some of the questions you didn’t feel confident with the first time round.
If you lose your job the worst thing that can happen is that you lose your home, so instead of worrying about losing your job put strategies into place that will give you breathing space because although it can be a worrying time, losing your job also opens up a whole new set of possibilities; a change in career, a similar job but maybe with better prospects, opportunity to study or a chance to spend time with your family.
If you lose a loved one to death, or they move away the worst thing that can happen is that you will miss not having them to share the highs and lows of your life. So fill the time that you do have them with memories that you can look back on, that bring a smile to your face. If they have moved, that’s one more place to visit.
If you lose a relationship the worst thing that can happen is your life seems to stop, because that person held such a pivotal part of your life that you are not sure what to do with it once they are gone. So, enjoy your partner, but have things that stimulate and occupy you outside of the relationship. You can always share the experience while you are together but if the day comes that you part. It might be the one thing that you can use to distract you from your feelings of hurt. Life doesn’t end there, you might still get your ‘white picket fence’ but with someone else.
So instead of being afraid of the pain, embrace the changes, see how you can make them work for you, because FEAR is False Evidence that Appears Real.
So, what are your thoughts? Enquiring minds want to know. Leave a comment.