Understanding fear in the human mind has become somewhat of a preoccupation of mine.
I have come to recognize, even in myself that a lot of what we do and don’t do, comes from fear.
We can easily recognize fear in the fight or flight reaction in nature and also we see if very early on in children.
With children, we see it manifest quickly and it is very easy to spot as we will see them cry.
As adults crying might not always be in the cards and we all might work towards keeping a poker face so that we don’t reveal to others that we are indeed in a state of fear.
The fear factor can limit us from trying what we dreamed. It can hold us back from taking on more responsibility and taking a promotion.
Perhaps the fear keeps us close to home where it is seemingly safe or we stay a student in school for many years too afraid of what awaits in the working world.
Fear causes us to hesitate, doubt ourselves, leads to inaction and even a form of paralysis.
Fear without a doubt can impact our confidence in ourselves and hinder our abilities.
I once knew someone who was very successful in their career suggest for over a decade that their success was due to luck when in fact, they were expert at what they did.
It took many years for the person to admit that they did not want to say otherwise as they feared that people who think they were arrogant. The fear of being judged even while successful impacted their confidence and self-image.
It is obvious that fear is not unidimensional.
Fear can come in many forms, a lack of control, a past insecurity, overcompensation with constant jokes, self-deprecation and even lies.
We are seeing many changes in how we work and live and communicate, especially in the age of social media. Those that are phonies, may get very defensive when called-out and jump to the attack instead.
Or perhaps, they are conditioned such that they don’t even realize what they are doing and have been sucked into a world far beyond their own control and will.
They might subconsciously be in denial. Conversely, they might be deliberate in their evasiveness. Or, as mentioned earlier, they simply may be combative.
At this point, you might be wondering the reason I have chosen to write about this topic and the answer is simple.
I have come to observe the power of fear and how prevalent it can be in our everyday lives at work and at home.
For myself, in recognizing all of this, the remedy that I try to employ is transparency and authenticity.
I realize these words have now become catchphrases yet if you really endeavor on this road, you will quickly see, it is much harder to do than to say.
It is to first recognize that real and practical self-reflection is of paramount importance. This reflection will likely reveal we are imperfect and don’t need to pretend to be as such.
When we are transparent, we can share our thoughts and ideas, even if we know not everyone will agree.
We are authentic when we are ok with others disagreeing and having a different perspective and we can still work towards a common goal.
We are ok to admit we need help and don’t have all the answers and we are not expert at everything.
It is ok to say that we find some things hard, yet we know the right questions to ask or can delegate accordingly to a more adept individual in this area.
If you are open and honest, you will have less to fear.
Another reaction I have often seen, is overexaggerating what will happen i.e., the End of the World scenario.
In every instance I have seen, whereby people were fearing the End of the World scenario, it never came.
I always keep this in mind when the fear factor starts to creep into my thoughts.
Ironically, I have had some End of the World scenarios turn into best case scenarios for all i.e., a blessing in disguise.
All this to say, having a better understanding of fear and being cognizant of it and the impact it can have has enabled me to be less fearful and I don’t fear, fear itself.
I will end this passage with a simple and different question from the one I have asked in the past about fear.
If you close your eyes and that which you fear was not there, what would you see, and how might your life be different?
Fear not this food for thought.