Fear does play a very important part in my daily life and in human society as a whole. Obviously, if there’s a gunman at my door, fear is based on a real event and is there to get me to kick into action.
Most of the time, however, there is no gunman at the door. There’s only a thought or idea that there COULD be a gunman at the door, when it is really just some annoying solicitor.
Sometimes it doesn’t really matter what others tell me or what the cold hard facts say, that fear overwhelms me into believing wholeheartedly in it.
Take my 6 year old, Ava, as an example. She is in a phase right now of complete and utter terror. This terror is comprised of, but NOT limited to: monsters, ghosts, fires, tornados, leopards (we read Little House on the Prairie – big mistake!), and short, little men that live under her bed and march around her when she sleeps. Now, we can laugh and sort of dismiss her about her fears, but to a 6 year old they are very REAL. So real that it involves crawling into our bed at 4am and making us sit on her floor or sleep in her bed until she drops off to sleep every night.
I would be more concerned except for the fact that Carlee, my now 11 year old, went through the exact same thing at 5 — her fear of FIRE so intense that we had to drive a different route every day to school so as not to even LOOK at a Fire Station, which would bring about all kinds of questions, crying and jitters.
How did we work through those fears? Time, patience,knowledge and facing that fear. As hard as it was for Carlee to hear about fires; if we gently told her the things we’ve done to protect ourselves and the things we could do in case of a fire, the less of an obsession it became. We had to force ourselves and her to not only stop driving a different route, but to actually get out of the car and a take a tour of the fire station.
We laugh at children’s fear, but take a look at a few of our own:
Fear of Anti-perspirant: Alzeimer’s
Fear of Beef: Mad Cow Disease
Fear of Cell phones: Brain Tumour
Fear of Manicures and Pedicures: Fungus
Fear of not eating 9 fruits and vegetables a day: Cancer
And the big one – Fear of Disliking our Current President: Terrorism
May sound bizarre, but all of these are out there. Just listen to the lead in of any newscast and you’ll hear how they draw you in with FEAR: “Coming up at 10:00, hear about Toddlers smoking marijuana, a man who died snowshoeing, and a local student who died of possible menangitis case.” Of course, you then listen to a commercial on anti-anxiety medication. I wonder why?
So, how do we block out the fear that is unnecessary yet be prepared for a life that can be full of dangerous twists and turns?
Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. The only way to get through it is to face it head on. As Mark Twain said, “Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.”
Sometimes I feel as if our lives are lead based on a theme – working out a personal lesson. For me, I have often felt like my theme to work out is fear.
My grandmother died of breast cancer at age 55, my mother died of colon cancer at 55. Guess what age I have a fear of? Those numbers loom darkly and prominently in my mind. Let’s see: what do I need to accomplish by 55? How old will my kids be when I’m 55? How much money do we need to save by 55? I’d even see the Speed Limit sign and those numbers of 55 would trigger a gutteral fear.
I had panic attacks, sleepless nights, anger, and tears. I tried hypnosis, books, and counseling. Watching someone you love die a difficult death will do that to a person.
I put a lot of time and energy into those fears.
I am better these days and the reason I am is because I actually had to face the fear, not by my choise, but I faced it nonetheless. I had a real cancer scare. Not the kind that was just in my mind. When the doctor found a suspicious lump in my breast I completely fell apart. Where most women would be somewhat frightened but optimistic, I found myself planning my funeral. Where most women could look at the statistics and know that probably 90% of women will have a suspicious lump, I was telling my husband that it’s okay for him to re-marry when I die.
I went to that very dark place of fear for me and for 2 long weeks, I reached out to others who prayed for me and listened to me. I meditated and read and finally came to peace with the fact that I could have cancer, but I would live a wonderful life in the meantime. When I got the glorious news that all was fine, I completely changed my outlook of everything. I began keeping a journal of gratitude. I began focusing on everything beautiful in my life. I was blessed and I was not going to let one day go by without thanking God for those blessings. I was also going to change the way I planned for 55. In fact, I may not even TURN 55 – I think I’ll go straight from 54 to 56. Instead of focusing all my energies on my fears, I was focusing my energies on my life! I believe in that what you tend to will grow, so why not water and feed the beauty in my life.
Yes, I still have fears – it’s difficult not to in today’s day and age – but those fears no longer dominate my life. Whenever I start thinking about the number 55, I change the script in my head to 99. I picture myself old, but healthy – on the porch, holding my husband’s hand while we play with our great grandchildren. Who knows? Maybe I’m even wearing anti-perspirant, eating meat, talking on a cell phone, getting a manicure while INTENSELY disliking our President?!? This I believe.
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