Wednesday, 14 October 2009

FEAR (Again!)

Fear is probably the most common human ailment. Even illnesses that are diagnosed as something more specific often have their roots deep in fear. It is very much, to use an old fashioned word, a contagion. Fear causes chemical reactions within the human body that can cause all manner of sicknesses from indigestion to cancer. It also makes us bad-tempered and irritable.

Our bodies are a wonderful but complex arrangement of organs, nerves, cells, neurons, etc., etc. Individually or collectively, these are a constantly active laboratory that can manufacture the most intricate variety of chemicals to combat actual or perceived threats to the physical body. Presiding over all this is the mind, conscious and sub-conscious. The sub-conscious mind acts like an automaton and we are normally unaware of its activities and I believe it forms the major part of the total mind. The conscious mind is the part over which we exert conscious control and this control can be expanded I believe but unfortunately, the sub-conscious frequently takes over from the conscious without us being aware of it.

This is exactly what happens when we are filled with fear. The most obvious example of this is when the fear is so imminent and life-threatening that we lose control of the action of our bowels. This can be observed in animals as well as human beings. More subtle than that is the insidious effect of fear where the threat is not so immediate. It eats away in our minds and causes the body to produce chemicals that when there is a physical threat are not a problem because the chemicals are dispersed and cease to be produced once the threat has passed. In these circumstances, they have no obvious target and build up in the body and cause the illnesses mentioned earlier.

An important factor about fear is that it usually results from misunderstanding or over-reaction. Our imagination, which is such a valuable part of our humanity, when allowed to move in negative channels can amplify the most innocent circumstances and lend them frightening proportions. Like all imagined threats and even an actual threat can be imagined to be far worse than it is, they do not long withstand the scrutiny of detailed examination. Fear grows only when we refuse to face it because we imagine it to be insurmountable. This is why Franklyn D. Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Once we face our fears they are soon reduced to their actual size and before long we work out a way to overcome them.

Fear comes in many guises: Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of ridicule, fear of loss, fear of facing others, fear of speaking in public and the greatest of them all, fear of death. Another way of expressing what I said in the previous paragraph is to say, knowledge conquers fear and I will discuss that in more detail tomorrow. In the meantime, try not to worry, which is an important aspect of fear, and know you are a very special person and nothing will happen to you if you are fully determined it should not. Go with God.

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