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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fear - Part I


Old English fǣr 'calamity, danger', fǣran 'frighten', also 'revere'


*an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat:

*a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety and well-being of someone:

*the likelihood of something unwelcome happening:


[with object]
be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening:

 [no object] (fear for) feel anxiety or apprehension on behalf of:

 [with infinitive] avoid or put off doing something because one is afraid:

 used to express regret or apology:

 archaic regard (God) with reverence and awe.    
Source:  The Oxford Dictionary

Here are my observations:

Fear - the moment we believe something is threatening which causes us to either escape or hide.  This is how we respond when our instinct is to survive.  When we recognize danger, our response is "fight or flight" - to confront it, or run from it.  Other times the fear may be perceived as so great, that we completely freeze.
Paranoia, desperation, abusiveness, impatience, indifference, unresponsive, obsessive, pitiful, stubborn, selfish....and the list goes on.  These are all fear-based, negative emotions and how we may respond to perceived threats.

To me, when I listen to people who express hatred, resentment, anger and jealousy, I can immediately recognize that these emotions are based in fear.  Think about it.  When we are afraid, or have suffered a loss or facing uncertainty -  we react in anger, or respond with any negative emotion - but deep down it is a fear to which we are responding.  You are responding to your own insecurities.  Guilt, shame, insecurity, hopelessness, and so on.

For example, if one was to express:  "I hate my boyfriends ex-wife."  

Ask yourself why?  If you are honest with yourself, you may realize that you are reacting to something that you perceive as a threat.   If you are experiencing jealousy, guilt, shame, insecurity - all of which are natural reactions, but that is the best time to examine your thoughts and try to move forward.  It is the time to accept the past and live in the present.  If we don't embrace the here and now, then we will be stuck in the quick-sand of negativity.  

Fear makes us liars.  Whether it is a little white lie or bigger, it can perpetuate itself by painting a new picture of one's reality.  It may be an exaggeration, or based on self-protection, but it can snowball.  I hear it all the time, and the sad part is, people keep talking, enhancing something small until they can't stop and then, sadly, they believe it.... I digress.

"It’s no surprise that lies don’t just hurt relationships, they can outright destroy them. Even lies told in the name of protecting others can leave you feeling pretty bad about yourself, because you don’t feel like an authentic, strong individual when you aren’t being honest." -psychology today

The most common fears are of demons and ghosts, the existence of evil powers, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels, bridges, needles, social rejection, failure, examinations and public speaking. The most frequent online search queries that involve the phrase, "fear of" follow the thought that people seek information on the issues that concern them the most, such as:  flying, heights, clowns, intimacy, death, rejection, people, snakes, failure, and driving.

Fear of death

Humans have performed rituals for eons, motivated by some form religion or belief in the afterlife.  These rituals were performed, and still performed today (our modern funeral), are ways we have designed to squash that fear, and to give us common closure of death and dying.  We are comforted by the opportunity to say goodbye to the individual who has passed, but what of those people who are obsessed with death and dying?  This is a "morbid, abnormal and/or persistent fear of one's own death or the process of his/her dying."

Fear of the unknown

When watching a movie based on horror or a thriller, to me, the unknown or the unseen is definitely the scariest notion out there.   It is the underlying "what lies ahead" notion that fills me with dread and fear.  In 1961, "The Innocents" was released.  I wasn't born yet, but when I did watch the movie several years ago, I was impressed by it's slow pace, and the unknown was a paramount factor in its crescendo.  I believe the movie is based on Henry James, "The Turn of the Screw" - a short, difficult read - but well worth it.

Fear is what gives us goosebumps.  It is the unpredictability of the moment.  It is the spider in the corner, the mouse on the floor, the boogie-man under your bed.  A basement.  An attic.  Dolls.  Clowns.  This may also include death and flying, for instance. 

We have heard the phrase "Face Your Fears" countless times.  For some of us, it may be easier said than done!