As a child, I feared darkness. If there was a sudden disruption in power supply while I was alone in a room, a spontaneous shriek was sure to escape from me. How I overcame it, is sure to add humour to your day!!
One fine evening, I told myself that – my mother doesn’t shriek in fear when she is alone in a room and the power goes off, and my father doesn’t either. Nor do my grandparents, aunts or uncles. So if I continue to be afraid of the dark, I would carry it with me to my adult years as well. And how am I going to comfort my children when they are afraid of the dark, when I am no less? As a child, my mother came to me with a lit candle when it got dark. How will I do the same if I continue to be afraid? From that day, I decided to make a conscious effort to calm myself in the event of being alone in a room when there was a sudden power cut. It worked! It wasn’t easy. Nor did the change happen overnight. But, it did happen.
Our fears can be overcome! While I say this, I also acknowledge the fact that all fears can’t be overcome. A strong determination, motivation and counselling, therapy can help overcome many of our fears. However, some fears still continue to reside comfortably within us. To give an example, I haven’t overcome my fear of caterpillars. Come rainy season, and my eyes scan all walls, doors and windows for any sign of the creepy creature. More than a fear, its just a yucky repelling feeling.
Fear is a powerful human emotion. It is a response to the perception of an imminent danger/threat. Fear may be aroused in the presence of the object of fear or in remembrance of a past episode with the object of fear or in anticipation of a future encounter with it. For instance, one may be afraid of the fierce winds, heavy rainfall and the sight of houses and trees falling down during a cyclone; or may shudder recalling a past experience of a cyclone or may simply be afraid anticipating the footfall of a cyclone some day in the unseen future.
Some fears are rational. You cannot obviously, expect to see a lion and run towards it with a welcome smile! Such fears are rational. Whereas there are some fears which are irrational. These irrational fears are termed as ‘phobias’. Phobias are not easy to do away with, and require short-term or long-term therapy in order to be overcome. Rational fears on the other hand, are comparatively easier to be dealt with.
Stage fear, fear of facing an interview panel, fear of darkness, fear of sexual intimacy after marriage, fear of conceiving a child are all rational fears under normal circumstances (unless there is some compelling aversive antecedent to it).
There is a difference between discomfort and anxiety and fear. I remember going to a metro station in New Delhi and changing my travel plans and returning, on finding it overcrowded. Seeing the crowd milling all over the platform with practically no breathing space, I didn’t even descend the stairs to the platform! Now, that has nothing to do with phobia. It is just a sense of extreme mental discomfort. On the other hand, there are people who, in such a crowded situation would have broken into a sweat with high palpitations and pulse rate. This is phobia.
The same object can induce rational fear for one and irrational fear for another. There can be no strict categories for objects of rational and irrational fears.
While fear perception is a sign of a normal human being, continuing to live with fears, is not healthy. It affects one’s functioning as an individual and one’s relationship with others and how one views the world. It is best to overcome fear or to be surrounded by people who can guard and guide in the event of occurrence of such fears.
Having said it all, I strongly believe that all fears can be overcome with strength from God. I’m not being a fanatic when I say this. But its the faith within, that if God is in control of this massive universe, He is in control of my fears and yours.
“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”