We have discussed fear before, but this time I want to look at it from a slightly different perspective, in the hopes of coming up with a strategy to more effectively deal with our fears, which can sometimes be incapacitating for us.
A possibly simpler way of categorizing fear is to break it down to its fundamental nature. We could look at fear this way. All fears, whether common phobias, silly superstitions or disabling fear that makes it impossible to get out of bed in the morning, can be placed in one of two categories: either fear of death or fear of rejection.
Let’s look at some examples: fear of the “other”(the person not like me) is, at it’s base, fear of death, which at its extreme can turn to hate. Adolescents are often wracked by fear of rejection - by peers, family, friends and even society. It is a primal need for humans to feel connected to others and to belong. When that is threatened, fear results. FOMO is a form of fear of rejection.
Reviewing the history of David Koresh and the tragedy at Waco 30 years ago, one can see that so much of cult behavior, by those joining cults, or by those trying to stop them, is motivated by unbridled fear of both rejection and death. Ironically, largely because folks on both sides allowed their decisions to be clouded by fear, too much death resulted.
Most people’s fears are much less extreme than this example. Obviously, people fear disease or the possibility of losing love every day. Perhaps these fears would be less powerful motivators in our lives, if we understood them better.
Taking time to have a conversation with ourselves, analyzing what is at the heart of the fear that drives us, might help us to understand and thus deal with it better. After all, what we fear most is that which we do not understand - a fact I learned from years of caring for gravely ill children and their families.
When we take the time to look at this closely, we can rationally conclude that most of what we fear will neither kill us or separate us from our loved ones, but unbridled fear could do both.
It is a cliche to say that we must “face our fears”. Maybe a healthier approach is to say we should “understand our fears”. Then we can more easily deal with them.
Dr. John Monaco