Copyright 2006 Wambui Bahati
I recently received an email that prompted me to answer a poll about what I feared most. I didn’t reply to the email because my biggest fear at that moment was the fear of receiving more unsolicited email. However, I did start thinking about the subject of fear. What are we afraid of? What is fear? What can we do about it? We all have fears at one time or another and to one degree or another. I did a little research of my own and found that next to terrorist, fear of public speaking and fear of success ranked high on the list of things people fear most.
Fear of Public Speaking
According to one survey I read, many people fear public speaking more than death. Although most people are not aware of why they have a fear of public speaking on a conscious level, psychological studies have determined that nearly everyone who has a fear of public speaking experienced some major or minor trauma when they were younger that causes them to be fearful of public speaking as teenagers or adults.
Fear of Success
Another high ranking and common fear is fear of success. Success means achieving or accomplishing a goal. Success can mean the attainment of wealth, fame, power or whatever you truly desire for yourself. Success is a good thing. Why, then, are so many of us afraid of success either consciously or unconsciously? It is all about how we perceive success.
Instead of focusing on how good it will feel to finally accomplish our goals, we are focused on the negative aspects. Perhaps we have a memory of a successful person who was ridiculed for having “too much money”. Perhaps we remember hearing that it is easier for a poor man to get into the kingdom of heaven or that successful people feel they are better than others. Therefore, we become fearful of what others may say and think about us if we become successful. We often sabotage our own success.
We are not afraid of success itself. We are afraid of what we imagine success might bring with it. We think we might or should feel guilty for having “the good life”. We fear making our friends jealous and think they will no longer like us. We fear we are going to have to work harder to maintain our new status. We fear that we’ll have to pay huge taxes. We fear that people will try to steal from us. We wonder what would happen if we were to lose our fortune.
A Powerful Emotion
Fear is an emotion and the symptoms of this emotion manifest in each of us in various ways. Some of the symptoms of fear are shallow breathing, sweaty palms, upset stomach, nervousness, headache, inability to speak, inability to think clearly, depression, uncontrollable shaking, inability to moved, and anger. People literally lose their lives and have been known to take someone else’s life out of fear. All of the “isms” are the children of fear racism, chauvinism, classism, sexism. Wars and crime thrive on fear.
Fear takes away our creativity, imagination, freedom and peace. Fear stops us from pursuing our dreams. Fear destroys relationships and can make us physically ill. These four letters, F E A R, represent the most powerful negative emotion that exists.
And just think, we have all this unhappiness and suffering over something that does not even exist except for the meaning or perception that we give to a person, place, thing or event. Our fears only live because each of us gives our own fears life. The fears we have exist because we nurture them, feed them, and acknowledge them.
Our Past Stories and Imaginations
In other words, our fears are based on our individual perceptions, and our perceptions are based on our individual stories or histories and our imaginations.
How else can we explain the fact that each of us has different fears and fears to different degrees? For instance, there are many people who love dogs. However, there are also people who fear dogs. Some love snakes and have them as pets. Yet, many others are extremely afraid of snakes and become traumatized at the mere sight of them.
Most of the time, we are not even aware of the stories that our fears are based on. Some of us have anxiety attacks and are fearful over a comment that another child made to us when we were small. In other words, we let a child from our past control our life and health today.
Release the Fear
In order to release the fear, we must change our perceptions about a person, event or object. Choose to see it for what it is a person, an event or an object. Many of us fear things that have not happened and may never happen. We cannot enjoy our lives today because we are fearful of what the future may hold. We can choose to release ourselves from the hold that our past stories and our imaginations have on us.
If you are totally immobilized by fear of something, you can always seek assistance from techniques such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), or hypnotherapy. I encourage you to explore the options each of these techniques provide. Each of them, using their own methods, de-traumatizes past traumas and identify and integrate conflicting belief systems that keep us from doing things we want to do.
In my experience, these types of procedures can bring about relief from fears quickly. Instead of treating the symptoms, as medications do, these techniques and other similar procedures address the cause of the fear.
A Signal for Change
The positive aspect of fear is that it is a signal for change. If someone were to point a gun at us, in the mist of fear, we would hope that something would change for the better. Hopefully, we would think of some way to change the situation without being harmed. When faced with the fear of the possibility of a child being harmed, parents have found physical strength and mental courage that they did not know was possible.
And so it is with our everyday fears. Let fear be a signal to change or move in a new direction. Move beyond your comfort zone. Perhaps we need more knowledge about the person, place, or thing that is causing us to feel fearful. Most importantly, move toward love. Love yourself. Love everyone and everything. Love is the most powerful emotion. Where there is real love, fear will perish.
We Are More Powerful than Fear
In my opinion, failure to remember who we are in relation to God and this great Universe is the number one cause of fear. Where there is no faith, there is fear. The absence of belief in ourselves and what we are capable of creates doubt and fear.
Yes, there will be tragedies. No, things will not always go as you planned. Yes, there will be people who want to say negative things about you. These people would rather comment on what appear to be your flaws rather than deal with their own. Do not give them your power.
None of us are ordinary human beings. All of us are extraordinary divine beings. Everyone has the power that will not fail, should it be acknowledged and embraced. Sometimes, I have to remind myself of this. I say, “Fear, be gone. You have no power here.” Just by saying these words, it is as if I turn on a light and I see fear for what it really is nothing.