Fear: The enemy of mankind
Fear is probably the single most damaging, debilitating, detrimental energy we have. It interferes with our healing process and our well-being in every area of our life. We cannot thrive when we are controlled by fear because fear stresses our immune system, clouds our thinking, and creates biochemical responses that harm us. Knowing this and learning to dismantle the fear response, could be the saving grace to our mental and physical health.
For me, as someone living with dystonia, a painful neurological movement disorder, fear has crept into my life much more. Not knowing how my body is going to behave from day to day and sometimes hour to hour is very disconcerting, which can lead to a state of fight or flight above and beyond what is considered normal. I work very hard to minimize this using a variety of protocols, but pain and an unpredictable, and sometimes socially embarrassing health condition, can lead to anxiety and fear. However, even people without a health problem live in fear over many things, so this article is applicable to anyone.
When I am faced with fear I often think of the movie, “We Bought a Zoo” with Matt Damon. Damon’s character, Benjamin Mee, is having a conversation with his son about fear and courage. It was in context with how he first met his wife, but it applies to anything in life where we have fear or apprehension. Damon’s character said, “sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you, something great will come of it.” He’s right. Feel the fear, whatever it is, and do it anyway. It will quickly dissipate, allowing us to move forward with confidence. Bravery is not being without fear. Bravery is having fear and walking through it.
A student once asked his old yogi master how he maintained such peace of mind and physical well-being. “Oh, my son, the yogi smiled, you only see the outside of my life. Inside my mind it is as if two powerful dogs are always waging war with each other.” “Wow,” said the student, “What do the dogs fight about?”
The Yogi answered, “One is always leading me to a better life- good health, strong energy, creativity, wonderful relationships, and constant joy and peace. The other is always leading me away from that wonderful place, to a horrible place that is its opposite. He has only one method, but it is a very powerful one. He leads me to fear.
Once I am afraid, I cannot move. I am stuck and I can only spend my energy worrying and being upset, or trying to prevent what I am afraid of. This dog causes me much suffering.” “Tell me, Master, which dog most often wins?” The yogi sighed, paused, then smiled and replied, “Whichever one I feed.”
Which “dog” do you feed more often? I used to suffer with intense anxiety and fed the “fear dog” all the time. I had to learn how to break the cycle if I wanted to get on with my life with some peace of mind. It wasn’t until I repeatedly put myself in situations that caused anxiety and fear that I was able to better learn to let time pass which always allows the anxiety and fear to pass. I used to always run from these situations which helped in the moment, but never solved the problem. It actually made it worse.
I also practice breathing exercises, visualization, meditation and other mind calming activities to help me better sit with the all the fears and work through them. I have since learned that my fears are more often than not a figment of my imagination. Every time I am in now an anxious state, I sternly remind myself that my thoughts are merely being amplified way above and beyond what is reality and that the fear is fake.
So many of us live in this heightened state of fear which greatly complicates our lives. We take ourselves too seriously and get so caught up in our heads wondering and worrying what others might think or if we will be at our best all the time. For our overall well-being, we have to practice getting out of our own way and do what we want and say what we want, regardless of what others think or if we might fall flat on our face. I do everyday, as do many of you. Getting up, laughing at the follies of life, shaking it off, and moving on rather than dwelling on mistakes leads to less anxiety and fear. The anticipation of what might happen is almost always worse than what we are worrying about.
Simplify your mind…
If you miss somebody…. call
If you want to see somebody… invite
If you want to be understood… explain
If you have questions… ask
If you don’t like something… say it
If you like something… say it
If you want something… ask for it
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
~ Dr. Seuss ~
Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015) and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges (2021). He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network, The Mighty, Patient Worthy, and The Wellness Universe. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.
Thank you for the very interesting article 🙂 I’m researching fear and love at the moment- I’ve heard that these are the 2 base emotions from which all others are derived…I wonder if it has to do with Carl Jung’s shadow side theory…
Thank you Ivan. I’m glad you liked it. That is a very interesting question you pose about the shadow side theory. I would be curious to hear your conclusions after your research.
Well written Tom!! Just what I needed to read today ..so helpful
Thank you, Kristy and I am so glad it came at a good time. Wishing you well!
Thank you again and again. This speaks to the heart, to the mind, to the soul. It’s speaks to the big things we fear and to the everyday occurrences that can steal our joy. It speaks to circumstances we can’t control and it especially speaks to being true to oneself. I choose to “face everything and rise.” Love all the quotes too.
Thank you so much for your comments, Sandie! It means so much to know that these messages make an impact.
Tom, that was absolutely BRILLIANT!!! Thank you so much. You are an inspiration and a true help. I went immediately to phone a friend I’ve been missing and her response was warm and friendly and we’ve arranged to meet up this week. I was invited to go to a shopping area today (a 6-mile return drive). My neck was playing up and just before I cancelled I decided to go. I took some medication (zolpiderm in US-speak/zopiclone here) and the whole trip was fine and enjoyable. So thank you once again. With every best wish to you. Collette
Collette, thank you a ton! I am SO thrilled for you to have gone out shopping. I have been in so many similar situations where I cancelled or almost cancelled at the last minute, and then decided to go. It was a rare thing for me to say “yes” for years. The more I do, even when I don’t feel my best, the less fearful I am. I now find myself doing more inviting and making plans 🙂