Overcoming fear

I have suffered from fear all my life… haven’t you?

Not surprisingly, I have experienced this subjectively on countless occasions. Some of the more interesting ones are skiing down a mountain in Norway before having lessons, landing on a hot LZ in Afghanistan where I was highly concerned that I was going to be being blown up and wondering if my son would come out with all his fingers and toes (we worry us parents) as he was being born. 

I have also examined the subject of fear objectively through my study of psychology in my preparation to become a psychotherapist. I learned that fear was two things… it was either a survival trait, or it was a human construct due to the environment you were inherently part of. It’s what we talk about in psychology as something either being subject to nature or nurture.

So I thought… I suppose, if it was under those circumstances I could let myself off for feeling fear couldn’t I? I mean, it wasn’t really my fault… it was either something I was born with or something that I could blame my parents for?

Wasn’t it?

Let me digress for a moment or two… I was always one of those curious children… one of those children, teenagers, young adults and now middle aged man, that very seldomly took things at face value. I often questioned the validity to any so called truths… I often asked why?

So I did this exact thing when I questioned my thoughts around fear. I, like many others, suffered from some level of fear around what might happen to us all in the middle of a pandemic with no solid ending on the horizon. The fear of uncertainty does this to us… it’s a powerful thing because, well, to state the obvious… we don’t really know when it’s all going to end and that’s not a comfortable thing for anyone to be a part of. 

But then I began to question… what’s driving my fear in this instance? Is it rational… have I been born with this fear… is it a construct of my mind… can I do something about it?

My answers came not from science this time but from metaphysics… the philosophical study of self. 

I came to understand that yes, fear is quite necessary if we are to survive. It’s what stops us from holding our hand over a burning stove or walking too close to the cliff edge but if it’s fear around something existential, then we always have a choice. We always have a choice to do something different…

I then realised that in this type of situation, if we wanted to take back control of our lives we needed to ‘step out’ and do something different. We needed to start telling a different, more hopeful story… we needed to have courage… quite simply we needed to have the courage to act.