What is Fear?
According to the Oxford dictionary; fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat. Fear is also described as a feeling that is a response to a current threat or danger or is a construct that is projected into the future and represents an imagination of a future possibility. Let’s take a look at what the dictionary says about fear so we can get a better understanding of what we are actually talking about.
Fear– is an agitated feeling aroused by awareness of actual or the telling that something may happen contrary to one’s desires
Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as a risk to health or life, status, power, security, or, in the case of humans, wealth or anything held valuable.
Fright– is a sudden onset of fear Dread– is about future events and suggests helplessness Terror– is the most extreme fear, especially where one’s own safety or well being is concerned Horror– is fear combined with abhorrence and frequently refers to something that is seen visually Panic– is a wave of terror suggesting an unreasoned or senseless fear (1)
I personally have experienced all of these types of fears at some point in my life. The key for me was not always accepting this as normal or ok. I chose to INVESTIGATE (why am I experiencing this? Is there a possible deeper fear?), EVALUATE (Was this a normal response to this situation?), DIFFERENTIATE (compare my past responses, have I had this before in past experience? How do other people respond to this?) and if necessary, I choose to INAUGURATE (establish a new response pattern for the next time).
I have had friends that have deep terror and have never done anything about changing their response to what is happening to them mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and even socially. Fear over an extended period can debilitate someone, hinder their progress, affect their health and wellbeing, cripple their growth, diminish their self-esteem, and affect their relationships with others, just to name a few of the outcomes.
When I was a teenager, I was always afraid of flying. I had a fear of getting on a plane, yet I desired to travel so badly. So, instead of flying, I drove everywhere I could on the continent of North America, where I lived but this was very limiting. When I was getting married my then fiancé (now husband Wayne) spoke to me about going to Jamaica for our honeymoon. This forced me to confront my fear and do some investigative work as to what caused the fear of flying and how I was going to overcome it. I was determined to figure it out before I got on the plane and was heard shrieking from the thought of dying every time the plane did something that I was unaware of. Lol. I thought about it, I prayed about it, I discussed it with family and friends, but I still couldn’t figure out what the fear was and it didn’t seem rational to me. I gave up trying. I knew I was getting on the plane, and I still had the fear. I decided in my mind to do it afraid.
It wouldn’t be till a few years later when I dealt with some deep issues surrounding the first plane trip that I took at 4 years of age that I would discover the root of my fear. My first plane ride was to Canada from Jamaica at 4 years old and I was told by my aunt to “be a good girl or else they would put me back on a plane to Jamaica”. This solidified for me in my child brain and over the years in my emotional center that a plane trip would separate me from my family and compound my root issue of abandonment from infancy to 4 years of age. After dealing with these root issues I have had no trouble traveling, taking trips on planes, and have perfect peace throughout the entire process. I have even helped others to get over this exact same type of fear.
As a Transitional Specialist, Somatic Movement, and Soul Trauma Care facilitator, I have had the privilege to help other people overcome their fears and phobias of heights, small spaces, elevators, spiders, worms, intimacy, and many others.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela
What Fears are you dealing with?