I have written about fear before, but something struck me yesterday that I mulled over and decided to write about. Many of our fears are irrational. I’m not talking about true phobias but the everyday flavor of fear. Someone I know is afraid of spontaneous combustion someone else is afraid of being stranded on a dark country road and being murdered. Now these fears are nothing to be laughed at, but are they really rational? What are the chances they will happen? What are you afraid of?
I’m afraid of spiders – not a rational fear as I am much bigger than a puny spider, even the tarantulas we have here are much smaller than I am. Now there are nasty spiders like the black widow and the brown recluse that have painful bites, but they generally don’t kill a person. I know what they look like and where I am likely to see one and have never been bitten by one. My fear of spiders has lessened over the years – I have consciously changed the script that runs in my mind when I see a spider from “nasty little thing – get it away from me” to “look at how amazing this creature is”. Look at how intricate a spider web is and how strong for its size. There is nothing more beautiful than a spider web covered in dew when the first sun hits it in the morning.
My fear isn’t totally gone – I still freak out if I see a spider in the house – but I can control it better. I take deep breaths and tell myself this little creature is useful for trapping other nasty bugs. I may move it outside but I no longer hysterically pound it until it’s nothing more than a stain on the wall.
Bad things happen to people, true. How likely is it that what you’re afraid of is really going to happen? Can you prevent it happening? Is your fear rational?
Most of us make our decisions out of fear. Think about that for a minute; we make decisions out of fear. Now, before you start protesting, really think about it. Have you ever decided to take a job with benefits instead of the job you really wanted that didn’t have benefits? How about choosing a ‘sure thing’ rather than something that was iffy even though you weren’t really happy with that choice? Decided it was easier to stick with your current partner, even though things aren’t good, instead of getting out of the situation? Weren’t those decisions made from fear? Maybe it was fear of the unknown; or fear of failure; or fear of not having enough money to live on. What makes you the most afraid? Perhaps it’s fear of losing your home; your marriage; your job; your mind; your health; a loved one. Have you really faced those fears?
Living in fear is exhausting. It saps our energy and leaves us feeling drained at the end of the day or even when we get up in the morning. So what can we do to face our fears? And face them we must if we want to live fulfilling lives. My suggestion is to take your worst fear, and write a plan to get through it. Suppose your fear is of losing your marriage; you have that niggling fear that all is not well and your spouse might leave. So before this happens, write a plan. Imagine you are helping a friend get through that very same situation; what advice would you give? Think about the steps you would tell your friend to take; write them down. Now write the plan for you. Put the written plan in a safe place, in case you need it (you may never need it!!) By making plans now, before the worst happens, you are prepared for anything. And what you fear the most may never happen, but if it does, you are ready. You have faced your fears, and you won. As my Gran used to say: Expect the best; prepare for the worst!