How does fear feel for you right now?

Updated: Jan 5

4 - Jan 2022


We’ve all felt it haven’t we? That split-second moment between what could potentially change everything. Something urges us on as we glimpse a different future and equally something seems to grab us tight and hold us back. Do we pull free or do we hold on to our familiar pattern of thinking or being? Too often we choose the latter and then blame ourselves for feeling regret for what might have been. There must be something deep within the human psyche that makes us feel trapped by fear; afraid of the unknown.


Let me just say at this point that I am not a psychiatrist. I‘m not a counsellor or life coach. I only have lived experience. I am not here to give advice or counsel. Much of my life has been dominated by fear and it‘s time for a change. My intention is to share my thoughts and if anything resonates with you and makes you feel less alone and more ‘normal’ then good because I know reading others accounts has helped me navigate life’s ups and downs.


Fear is a normal human emotion experienced by us all in varying degrees from the moment we are born - imagine how a baby must feel when it is forced from the comfort and safety of its mothers womb - until the day we die. If you think deeply about fear, really examine it, hasn’t it featured significantly in your life?


That first time as a child when you became aware that one day your parents would die. That experience, it happened to me many years ago in the middle of the night, when you confronted your own mortality. There are countless moments, some more significant than others. Most are brushed aside. The fear of an exam, a driving test, a visit to the dentist.


Does dismissing and belittling our fears help? Is it healthy? What damage are we doing to ourselves and others when we swallow our fears?


 

How should we handle our fears?


I’m afraid I can’t answer that. Not with any authority. My lived experience has shown me that fear can be a poison and yet it can also be a tonic. I have reached out for help several times in my life. Friends, family, though this is sometimes the hardest route initially, but more often to outside sources with no connection to me, such as counsellors and therapists. Phoning a helpline can be a huge help to alleviate overwhelming fears. There is always someone on the end of a phone who will listen.


Poison


If you forever swallow fear, it eats away like a poison. There is always an antidote but your health can be badly damaged and take time to heal. There are many times I have swallowed fear’s poison, especially when in the midst of a clinical depression or when driven by acts of self-sabotage. Other times I’ve been in situations beyond my control and been poisoned either intentionally or incidentally.


Tonic


Fear can be a motivator for change. The fear of staying in a dreadful place, physically and metaphorically, can motivate you to move. Fear, when overcome, can bring a self-assuredness and confidence. Fear can inspire great courage.


Fear and gender


It is not easy to break free from fear. It takes a special kind of bravery. Bravado I think it‘s called. And that has negative connotations in our society, doesn’t it? And is it a gender bias? Bravado is a good quality in a man. For centuries women have been brought up to be demure and helpless. It’s no coincidence that a knight in shining armour slays the dragon in order to rescue a damsel in distress. Now that’s a story that needs subverting.


Societal fear


Perhaps the greatest fear in current times is Covid. I don’t want to dwell on that. I would be astounded to hear of someone in the world that hasn’t been affected by it one way or another. It truly is a global phenomenon. And we are still in its grip.


Over the past two years we have also witnessed the Black Lives Matter and the drive for societal change. We are in the grip of climate change and devastating climate events are becoming more frequent. We are witnessing the fight for justice in historic sex offences and the convictions of some high profile, previously untouchable, powerful men and women.


Hope is the antidote to fear


Fear is a natural emotion and we need to live with fear as part of our human experience. But we also need to cultivate hope. Accept fear for what it is. When you face your next fearful moment how will it be for you? A poison? A tonic? A mixture of both? Seek help if fear becomes all consuming. And never give up hope.


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