Why Do We Fear?
In our last post, we observed that worrying is a form of negative “future thinking”. Fear can also be a form of negative “future thinking”. Fear has a purpose. It is a defense mechanism that we use to protect ourselves from the unknown. Some fears are realistic. Some are not.
We start learning fear the moment we are born. At birth we fear the empty feeling in our bellies or the dampness on our bottoms. We become afraid that our mother won’t come when we need her. We fear abandonment so we cry to get attention. As children, we learn to be afraid of touching a hot stove. We fear pain. We fall when we are learning to walk and we become afraid of distance from the ground. Our best friend in the fourth grade rejects us for another friend. We fear rejection. We try something new and we fail. Others who do what we couldn’t do ridicule us for our inabilities. We fear failure. The fear of rejection, the fear of high places, and the fear of failure are the most common fears that everyone feels.
We instantly know fear when we sense it. Our breathing and pulse quicken. The muscles in our chest tighten.. Our palms start to sweat. We want to run away from the situation. That is what is called “the flight or fight” response and for most of us, flight is the mode of choice.
Fear can be legitimate. Fear is a defensive protection mechanism. For instance, when we fell when we climbed up on something high, we felt pain and we associated that pain with high places. Fear of high places kept us from going up on high places and therefore avoiding the pain associated with high places. However, this fear can prevent us from doing what we really would like to do. Because fear was designed to prevent pain, fear convinces us that if we go up on a high place, we will feel pain.
Fear is connected to our animal instincts. Our animal instincts are like those of animals. Like the deer, we can run from what we fear, or like a bear we can fight what pushes us into a corner. Fear was designed to protect us from what could hurt us. However, we live in a civilized society and fear’s defense mechanism is often misplaced.
Discerning Realistic Fear From Unrealistic Fear
Unrealistic fear can paralyze us from doing what we really want to do. Fear of rejection easily reaches the point where in order to avoid rejection, we never try anything new. We become afraid of what people think and we never do anything that we are truly passionate about. We avoid taking chances. We avoid doing anything that others don’t first approve. We procrastinate because we are afraid that we will make a mistake.
A couple of years ago I looked up how “fear” was used in the Bible. I discovered the Bible has basically two different words for fear. The Bible uses one fear when associated with fearing God and his divine purpose for your life. (This divine purpose is your passion.) The other word is associated with other people and is always accompanied by “not”. “Fear not others when”. . . the Bible says.
More of us are afraid of the rejection of other people than we are of the rejection of our creator, but the Bible says we should do the opposite.
Fear as a Cause of Procrastination
Fear is often a cause of procrastination. We put things off because we are afraid. We are afraid because we fear what people will say, we are afraid that we will fail, or if what we fear is related to jumping out of airplanes, the fear of high places could also come into play.
Therefore, if you find yourself procrastinating, you should determine if fear is part of the reason for your procrastination.
First you have to ask yourself: Am I procrastinating because I am afraid or is there some other reason?
If you have determined that fear is the culprit, then you need to ask: what am I afraid of?
Next ask yourself: Is this fear realistic? You’re not asking if the fear is real, because fear is always real, but what you want to know is this fear based in facts? Is this fear that the average person would be afraid to do? Is this fear that Warren Buffet would have that would keep him from doing what I want to do?
Look at the results of doing what you fear.
What are the legitimate positive effects of doing what I am afraid to do? What are the possible positive outcomes?
What are the negative effects that could occur from what I am afraid of doing? What are the negative possible outcomes?
Now turn it around and think about not doing what you fear
What are the positive effects of not doing what I am afraid to do?
What are the negative effects of not doing what I am afraid to do?
Now based on the facts that you have determined, decide whether you will let fear determine whether you will do this or not.
Fear is not the only reason for procrastination. Fear is only one of several reasons. Knowing that fear is not the reason for procrastination probably won’t cure the procrastination nor will knowing that fear is at least one of the reasons for the procrastination, but it can give you hints of what you can do to overcome that fear and anxiety.
What are you afraid of? What are you going to do about it, if anything?
Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Mill Pond
Now Available in Paperback with 40% discount! Click here to buy now. Taking Preorders for Kindle Edition until May 6! Order now!
In Book V of the Locket Saga, fifteen-year-old Lacey Mayford has been infatuated with Matthew since she was a little girl. Matthew, a half-breed Indian, doesn’t see her as anything more than a little girl cousin. How can she convince him that she is growing into a beautiful young woman he should consider?
In the frontier town near the turn of the century, Matthew Thorton is blamed for Luther Hannibal’s murder after an altercation with Luther over stolen furs. Lacey defends Matthew with the help of a teacher, Felix Grackle. They look into other suspects who could have killed Luther Hannibal. Matthew’s father Luke and his best friend Jacque Pierre are looking for the person responsible for stealing the furs. They believe the thief might have something to do with Luther Hannibal’s murder.
A vigilante group seeks to avoid the imposed whiskey sales tax. The group goes to extremes; they steal the US mail and tar and feathering U.S. government officials who attempt to collect those taxes.
Will Lacey be able to clear Matthew’s name? Will Luke and Jacque Pierre find the man who stole the furs? Will the vigilantes stop the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed? The truth is far more sinister than anyone could imagine.