Fear might be something we all understand until we have to define it. Many studies have been conducted about the things we think of in our sub-conscience and fear might be one that resides in this area. Fear if left unchecked can cause the most rational person’s actions to become questionable. I wanted to take a look at some aspects of fear to include the fear of rejection, the fear of speaking in front of people, phobias and finally the fear of death. This is not a scientific paper but one that hopefully will cause you to Listen.Think.Act.
There was a group from the 80’s called Siouxsie and the Banshees. They had a song named “Fear of the Unknown”. So much of life is unknown it is only natural for a certain amount of “healthy fear” to be present in our lives. Of course, like anything in life we need a balance between that which is healthy (fear of things that can cause harm) and the peculiar fears that help define our uniqueness. It is hard to define fear but maybe Meriam Webster will help get us started: “An unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger; a reason for alarm.”
Now that we have a basis for this word, the fear of rejection is the first item we will examine. The new landscape for relationships changed a few years back with the introduction of social media. This advent ushered in a whole new “fear of rejection”. When someone shuns you, which could be for a plethora of reasons, it can be a hit to our ego. Depending on the timing, some are much worse than others. If you have recently experienced a breakup, lost your job, or found out you did not make a team you were trying to join, etc… These are not good times to have someone reject your friendship. An unhealthy fear of trying to “put yourself out there for others” can escalate your fear even from the most innocent of coincidences. Don’t let fear stand in the way of developing new relationships. The best friend you will ever have could be the next person you meet.
Let’s also consider the person that is afraid to talk in front of people. They might be asking “Is everyone sitting there critiquing me and my every move?” Continuing this dialog in our heads, might sound like this: “Is someone in the back laughing at their friend, or were both of them laughing at me?” Our minds are capable of some pretty suspicious thinking when presented with even the most pedestrian activity from others. This type of self-talk can take the most innocuous actions and catapult us into our next episode of social anxiety? I can tell you from personal experience that people are to busy to put that much thought into your every action.
Fears can be rational one minute and irrational the next, it depends on the thought process we use when engaging the fear. I have often wondered how a fear becomes a phobia? Gizmodo had an article that addresses phobias that were very interesting, you can check it out at https://io9.gizmodo.com/5881188/why-do-people-have-phobias. Sometimes, new fears accompany us as we age. Fears that once were prevalent earlier in life seem to disappear with age (i.e. being liked by everyone) but have been traded with new fears (being in a crowded room for too long). FearOf.net has produced a list of the top ten phobias of 2018 and here was the top 5:
1.Arachnophobia – fear of spiders.
- Ophidiophobia – fear of snakes.
- Acrophobia – fear of heights
- Agoraphobia – fear of wide open or crowded places.
- Cynophobia – fear of dogs. (This one was a surprise)
Fear, as we can see, does not have to make sense, but can have a credible impact on our lives none the less. This leads me to the final fear I want to discuss.
Death is a subject that has been written about by many different authors and experts. Yet, we still know so little about this phenomenon. I read Christopher Hitchens book “Mortality” a couple years back and he had a phrase that has stuck with me. In his last year of life, he called it “The year of living dyingly.” Some, I suspect are so preoccupied with death they forget to live. Death is a natural part of life. The one strange thing about death is once you have experienced it, it’s secrets are kept safe with you. This is how Epicurus described death “Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do?” I think the real fear of death for me is separation from our loved ones. This should be a catalyst to live every day with passion and not take our relationships for granted. Will this exempt us from the fear of death, probably not, but it will exempt us from regrets.
Fear is something all of us live with, in some degree or fashion. I do not have an answer on how to overcome fear. I will leave that to professionals with much greater credentials than my own. I have learned one thing over the years, some fears will rob us of a complete life. There are many methods taught on how to face our fears, which might give us limited success. Maybe Franklin Delano Roosevelt was correct after all. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. ”