The Core Of Fear

Many of us (myself included at times) are driven by fear and even work from a place of fear. We fear things happening to those we love. We fear becoming known. We fear inadequacy. We even fear excellence. Some of our fears are irrational and some are quite rational. A healthy dose of fear can be a good thing, such as knowing not to run in front of traffic or handle poisonous snakes, unless of course you’re trained to do that. Not everyone is born fearless or skilled enough to pull off dangerous stunts like Evel Knievel, and I think he even suffered some major injuries and trauma! Fear is a natural response to danger, most of us want to get as far away from it as possible. At our very core, we have a “fight or flight” mechanism built in.

I have always been an anxious and fearful person. Can I blame my mother on this one? I don’t think so. While she instilled in me the fear of strangers…she’s certain almost everyone we don’t know is out to harm us, most likely axe murders or something! However, that isn’t my fear. I am afraid of heights (acrophobia), flying (aerophobia or aviophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), and snakes (ophidiophobia). And I used to even be afraid of the dark (achulophobia).

This past summer, I was given (aren’t I the lucky one?!) the opportunity to face some of those fears. I will not say conquer because doing something once or twice does not make me overcome it, but it does lessen the distress. Before we left on our trip out West, I had a few conversations that kind of fed my fear. First of all my mother insisted (no, demanded) that I be extremely careful. She mentioned my flying, climbing mountains, and the recent media frenzy of bedbugs. Then I spoke with my older brother who said he was glad I got to talk to him (such a funny guy!) in case I fell off a mountain and didn’t make it home. Then my elderly friend called and wanted my flight information in case she heard of a plane crash, she wanted to know whether we were on that flight. Then she told me that she would not rest until we returned because she was afraid some strange evil hiker would kill us in the wilderness. Then the final straw was my mother in law calling to inform me of the horrors of bedbugs in even five star hotels. She said that we needed to find out what kills them and bring it along to fumigate our mattress and room.

I decided that I could either let the fear lead my vacation which would make it unpleasant, or I could try to fit fear within my comfort zone. I tackled one issue at a time. The first one was flying. Had I ever been on a plane that crashed? No. Did I personally know anyone who died or survived a plane crash? No. Then came the worries about security. Did I know anyone who was hijacked? No. Ok then, even though there is a first time for everything, my fear of flying was mostly illogical. I decided to give it to God, and I actually boarded the plane with a sense of peace. Trust me, I never thought that would happen. I even got put through the body scanner on our return trip! No big deal there either! As far as climbing the mountains and scaling canyon slots, I focused on what was in front of me instead of below me. I admit I did not overcome my fear of Angel’s Landing and was glad we were unable to make that hike. (I need to be in much better physical condition to tackle that one.) Before we left, we did some research to find out what bedbugs infestation looked like etc….we checked our mattresses (even at the Mirage!) and all was well! I did not have to test my theory on snakes, though the answer is that I have never been bit by one, nor have I been bitten by a poisonous spider. I did come eye to eye with a couple of tarantulas on our hikes…and stared them down (or maybe they stared me down!) and went about my business. So at any rate, my fears were not rationally based. I faced them. I wish I could tell you the root of my fears, but I really don’t know. I supposed the key to getting past fear is by breaking down the walls and starting over. Or you can do what I really did and that was pray my way through scary situations. Hey, don’t knock it, it worked for me. Seriously. I think that if we can’t trust ourselves to protect ourselves, that putting our faith in something higher is certainly a valid answer. I can’t honestly tell you that I desire to climb up on the roof of my house or want a pet snake, or that I even purposely put myself in uncomfortable situations. I have come to the conclusion that I am only human and have only so much control. You can call it surrender if you want. I call it trust.

56 thoughts on “The Core Of Fear

  1. I think the press plays a part in our “culture of fear” too. If it isn’t screaming about “West Nile Virus” from mosquitoes, it’s “Bird Flu” or friggin’ “Bedbugs”. On the front page of Yahoo yesterday, “scientists” were claiming a catastrophic storm in California that could potentially kill millions. Uh huh. Well, I think it’s just as likely I could win the lottery so I’ll go ahead and get my ticket.

  2. That is a good way to work through the fears and I can see how they could spiral out of control so easily!
    I just realized reading this post – I forgot to worry about bedbugs when I traveled to Chicago this weekend. Totally forgot.
    I did get scared in the older hotel at night, in the dark (too many Ghost Adventure episodes). I pretty much did what you did. I trust God. I trust he is with me and protecting me. So I went to sleep.
    It’s nice to know someone is looking out for you and whatever happens he will see you through it.
    Great post!

  3. Ugh. Your mother needs professional help. It’s so easy to be afraid — I’m afraid of a million things, mostly things that will never happen. I’ve gotten a little better at moving out of my comfort zone, but it’s hard, and it has to be done over and over again, which is exhausting. Travel is definitely good for facing our fears and surrendering some control. I think you’ve got the right idea.

    • Nah, my mother is fine, just a worry wart…always afraid someone she loves is going to be the vicitm of an escaped convict or something, we’re used to it! It is difficult to move out of a comfort zone, so kudos to you for attempting it.

  4. Fears are not irrational at all. They are indeed very real and will come true in a manner of speaking. We are born and isntantly taught that we will die. That will happen in one of two ways, slowly through some protracted illness or situation or it will happen very suddenly, through some acute, sudden illnes or accident. That is not irrational. There is nothing irrational about facts.

    The trick is to find a way to live without letting the fears take the life out of life. The best way to do that, as you have suggested, is take them head on, do not let them lead you.

    Excellent post. Very thought provoking.

    http://timkeen40.wordpress.com

    • When they become obsessive they are irrational which is where my problem has been in my past. Thanks for your response. I won’t be able to catch up on my blog reading until tomorrow or the next day, but promise to get around to read as soon as I can.

  5. i’ve read that fear is, at its core, our acknowledgment of our own mortality. that said, its amazing to me how many people will emphasize the dangers, hazards, possibilities of all the horrible things that could happen should we decide to venture our of our comfort zone. or is it THEIR comfort zone? . . . i get confused. surrender and trust. absolutely. i never want to look back and say, “i wish i’d done ….”

    • You’re right…every fear is based on mortality, that what if something bad should happen. While I might not be the bravest person yet…still like you say who wants to look back with regrets. And yes, comfort zones can be “ours” or “theirs”, depending on whose box you’re stuck in!

  6. I agree with you, Suzi. The best thing to do with fear is to trust in God. It works for me, too. When it doesn’t, I think I hear the LORD say, boo! Then I laugh at myself and turn my eyes on Jesus. Blessings to you…

  7. Okay, the bed bugs thing still kinda freaks me out – I saw a show on like Date Line where they showed bed bugs at a high end hotel in Vegas – gross!

    I just pretend they aren’t there! 😀

  8. I am very proud of you for facing your fears.

    Yes, our mom did instill a sense of everyone is out to get us in us didn’t she? Lock your doors! Don’t look at anyone! Keep your purse zipped. Don’t take your hand off of it. Don’t let anyone see you got money out of the ATM! Don’t look strangers in the eye! Did I leave any out? LOL

  9. I’m reading this and thinking to myself, “Wow…I have some of those same fears!”

    Flying, heights, and spiders!

    I’m actually a very fearful person. However, I don’t like being afraid, so I do my best to walk through it.

    I was in a very bad hurricane one time, while flying home from Europe, so that was the beginning my flying fear. I wouldn’t fly for years, until one day I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous, I can’t NOT fly anymore!” So, when a trip to Japan came up, I grabbed it and flew once again. I can’t say that I don’t still fear it, but I refuse to let it stand in my way.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said…..

    “I have come to the conclusion that I am only human and have only so much control. You can call it surrender if you want. I call it trust.”

    Control. That’s it! We only have so much control.

    Surrender and trust. You said it, Suzi!

    Fab post! Thanks for sharing it!

    X

  10. I am fearful of being restrained but it comes from a hospital situation as a child, so I don’t think I’m ever going to be free of it. That’s the only one I don’t think I can shake.

  11. This post made me laugh. Isn’t it funny the things people will say to you when you tell them your plans? It’s insane. In the summer of 2008 I joined an online social network for writers (www.inked-in.com) and clicked with a bunch of people. Most of them lived in other states and one in another country so we never met face to face. But six months later we began planning a trip to Scotland where we would meet for the first time. The trip ended up being a complete blast, and the following year we traveled to Italy together. But, when I told people that I was going abroad to vacation with a bunch of strangers, I had some interesting responses. My 88-year-old uncle immediately called my mother (I’m 45, by the way) to ask if this was a good idea. After all, someone might hack me up into little pieces. Lovely. 🙂

  12. Hey, first time stopping by! Dealing with fear is just part of life, and the ability to simply work in spite of it is far more important than ridding yourself of the feeling. It’s rewarding, too; for example, if you’re not one of the many, many people who can’t finish Angel’s Landing, you’re rewarded by one of the most inspiring views on the continent.

  13. Every time I remember a spider I’ve seen in my home, I think about how I should have been able to overcome it, not just throw shoes from thirty paces and then let John deal with the aftermath. Then I face another one and that pep talk goes right out the window.

  14. Good for you. Some encouragement to continue to free yourself of fear:

    Although the chance of stubbing your toe increases the more you walk, it is always better than going nowhere by standing still. ~ Robin Sharma, in The Top 200 Secrets of Success and the Pillars of Self-Mastery

    Face your fears. Rise above your limitations.

    The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. – Moliere

    Freedom lies in being bold. Do one thing every day that scares you.

    You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

  15. I think most of our fears stem from the unknown. I’ve been on both sides of the worry fence. I’m already worrying about all of the family making it to Mexico for vacay…coming from 3 different cities! But I really try and keep from becoming contagious.

  16. Fears are fears, they don’t have to be rational. I always have to just turn mine over because most of the time I have no control over what my fear is about so there is no use stressing out over it. I OFTEN pray for “peace” and “calm” and turn it over to God.

  17. There are some reports of bad things that I play ostrich about – like the bedbug thing. If I don’t know about it, it can’t get me. Of course, it helps that I wasn’t going anywhere anyway. My big fear is of edges, otherwise I’m not a terribly fearful person. As long as I control my imagination. Glad you were able to overcome yours and enjoy that vacation!

  18. Flying is one of my biggest fears, but I refuse to let it stop me from traveling and doing things I’ve longed to do.

    Also, I don’t mean to sound rude, but why would your friend bring up her fear of your plain crashing? Or your brother and the psycho people in woods? Man, I think I’d freak out even more than usual. LoL Good for you, Suzicate. You’re always an example of overcoming things that are hard.

    • My friend is very elderly and she worries alot. Ha, my brother and I tend to have crazy convos at times…I probably started it by saying I was making what could turn out to be my last talk with him and he went with it…gotta’ love it! psycho killers in the words…too much media!

  19. I have a fear of flying as well. I will get on the plane, but will be nervous about it the whole time. My daughter needles me and says “Momma, you are a scaredy cat.” And for much of the plane ride I sit there paralyzed and with sweaty palms. Every time there is any turbulence I react irrationally. I like how you rationalized your own fear of flying by pointing out facts of your own flying experience. I hope that helps me too next time I fly.

  20. It seems difficult to be afraid when I’m truly living in the moment. I tend only to be able to be afraid of things that might happen or how things I’ve done will be interpreted. I like your advice to face them head on and live anyhow. I don’t think fear survives very well in that situation.

    • I think we sometimes think too much which causes worry and prevents us from living in the moment…it’s a vicious cycle that takes undoing and relearning. It’s much like learning to act rather than react.

  21. Girl, I was laughing out loud at all the comments people made to you before you left… definitely not a way to relieve your anxiety, for sure!! But you handled it awesomely and thought things through to prevent more anxiety… you are totally an inspiration!

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