Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fear: Breaking the block part 2

Fear is a dichotomous emotion which can be good and bad in different circumstances. Fear can save a person from danger or stop someone from achieving greatness. Where one is afraid to take a risk, someone else dives in and reaps great benefits and profits. This brings in the question of intuition, which while interlinked with fear, is also two pronged itself, as it can stop one from doing something as it does not "feel" right or good. I believe that in life, everyone has opportunity, but the willingness and ability, as well as speed at which we grab these opportunities determines our outcomes. Where does hesitation come from? One theory will say it comes from doubt, and where does doubt come from? Another theory could say there is fear at the bottom of the chain. A lot of emotions are built on fear which stop people from achieving what they could achieve without fear. The cliché "fear of the unknown" is bigger than many imply when they say it. Many a time someone will say "I had an idea, concept or solution, but fear of the unknown stopped me from pursuing it. Fear at its best can save someone from losing a life, however, at its worst fear can have a grip on one's life that it can blind vision, kill dreams, destroy hope and put someone in a dungeon where they will not venture to anything at all. This is where fear becomes a liability more than an asset. Momentary fear is a good reminder for one to always assess a situation before making a decision, but permanent fear may become a hindrance to life itself.

My experience with fear
When I went for my drivers license road test 20 years ago, a part of the test involved reverse parking between obstacles (oil type drums were used). I would like to suggest that there is something called "fear transference", a phenomenon where before one experiences something personally, they are already scared and fearful due to fear transferred onto them by those who have gone before and have had a "bad experience" with a similar situation. This is something popular in human interactions as most people do not want to re-invent the wheel and will "consult" those who have been there or done that. These obstacles were notoriously known to be a difficult part of the road test, and so if you asked anyone about the road test, they would likely warn you about thart part, thereby instilling fear to the test taker which would come out during the test. Fear transference therefore occurred to me passively and I did not deal with that fear the test beforehand and sure enough, I hit the obstacles and failed. This further worsened and heightened my fear for the test, and I failed to recognize that root cause and deal with it. The next time I had to take the test, I had not dealt with my fear of drums and I hit them again. My behavior (driving test) was arrested by fear and I became paralyzed and fixed to a single outcome because I had not addressed something that was affecting my outcome. What another person could do with ease became a nightmare for me and I would feel a chill down my spine and a turn in my stomach just at the thought of  those drums. Needless to say I would be guilty of fear transference if someone was to consult me on this matter. Fear, though very intangible, produces very tangible and physical results in a person. One myth which I cannot say it truth says a dog can sense fear in someone and the dog will maximise on that fear by barking and growling even though it will not bite the person. So anyway, only on the third attempt, when I had overcome my fear of the drums through more practice and being very comfortable, did I go through successfully and get my license, and what a celebration ensued. I cannot count the endeavors I have only managed to overcome after dealing with fear first. As long as there is fear blocking the way, anything ventured is a mammoth task. I could not choose decidedly but I settled that my best antonym for fear, is faith and while fear goes with panic, concern, suspicion, anxiety and fright, faith goes with ease, calm, trust and assurance. Fear is the shadow of faith and as much as it is always present, do not make it president to rule you. Below are some of my favorite quotes on fear which I hope will help you as well.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. - Nelson Mandela

I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.” - John Keats

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you - Eric Hoffer

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Do one thing everyday that scares you - Eleanor Roosevelt

When you do what you fear most then you can do anything - Stephen Richards

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others - Marianne Williamson

Action point

How do you deal with your fears and how has fear shaped or constrained your life?

Image credit

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fear: Breaking the block part 1

Fear is an emotion that arises from a threat, real or perceived, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately changes behavior through running away, hiding or freezing in the face of it. Fear may be a response to something happening in the present, or maybe caused by a future anticipated situation, perceived as risky in areas of health or life, status, power, security, or anything held dearly. Fear is an intangible emotion, but its effects can be felt and even touched. Today I thought I would try and talk through the simple concept of fear as it pervades daily living. Fear is acquired over time as a result of occurrences one comes across.

A baby will not hesitate to reach out and pull a poisonous snake as if it is a piece of rope, touch a red hot stove or take a dive into a pool without a single swimming lesson. A person is mostly shaped by the freedoms they are allowed by those around, which makes one a risk taker or risk averse, adventurous or cautious. If a baby is allowed to push limits of exploration, chances are fear will not be a factor for them, while over protection with no allowance to venture, may hinder attitude towards risk taking. I will be quick to point that some who have been overly protected from exploration have ventured later in life with things going either way as they try to prove that they can also handle adventure. As a baby develops into childhood, input and feedback from the environment as well as from older people starts to shape the child in form of parameters and bounds of fear. The child starts to be afraid of doing certain things because of the outcomes therefrom. As a child learns to read expressions, sounds and postures and meanings thereof, they gain knowledge of what to be scared of and what not to. Interestingly, this cannot be stated as a blanket position because cultures and upbringing play a massive role in the shaping of fear in someone's life.

A random example could be that while Jane is afraid of and will not even look at a snake up close which Jill fearlessly wraps around the neck, Jane may be a master of touring a big city alone, while Jill may be so scared of venturing into the city and try the same feat. Most toddlers are crazy about superheroes, and they will try to jump off tables and chairs and do all the tricks super heroes do to save the world. After a while however, reality kicks in and they begin to understand that there is TV and showbiz and then there is real life where things are a bit different. In real life, fear, which was virtually non-existent at birth, after a while becomes so much ingrained in one's life that it seems and feels instinctive and in-built as if one was born with it, yet it was acquired over time. Fear becomes a part of one's life to the extent that it is like a wallet for a man or a purse for a woman which one cannot move around without. The subconscious mind is a composite of everything one sees, hears and a storage of any information the mind collects and cannot otherwise consciously process to make meaningful sense. The conscious mind cannot always absorb random bits of information, especially nowadays due to information overload, so the subconscious mind stores this information for retrieval by the conscious mind in need. This is where my simple explanation of Dejavu comes from, as the act of the subconscious mind bringing back something to the conscious mind that did not initially make sense when it was consumed earlier. The sub-conscious mind helps in instinctive behavior where one evades a risk or threat in ways they have never done before or even rehearsed and they cannot recall how they even managed to do it. There are many fears that we face(phobias) and I suppose the best way to get rid of fear is humor, so I chose several which I found intriguing.

Agoraphobia – fear of helplessness and of leaving safe places (I will find you where I left you?)
Androphobia – fear of men (the opposite for gentlemen is Gynophobia – fear of women)
Chaetophobia – fear of hair (Bald head anyone?)
Ergophobia – fear of work or functioning ( comment)
Nomophobia – fear of being out of cellphone contact (difficult these days)
Papaphobia – fear of the Pope (what are the chances of bumping into him on the street)
Sesquipedalophobia – fear of long words (doesn't help the cause does it?)
Pogonophobia – fear of beards (what happened to Samson from the Bible?)
Somniphobia – fear of sleep (if I was sleep, I would sing "You can run but you can't hide")
Cyberphobia – fear of or aversion to computers/technology (this doesn't affect you)
Agyrophobia – fear of crossing the road (work and stay on the same side of the same street)

I did not know my phobia had a name, but seems it does and it is a fear of large objects in water (Hydromisobaptizophobia) How do you relate with fear up to this point?Let's explore fear further in part 2.

Image credit

Monday, June 16, 2014

Beauty of human interactions

One of the many causes of suicide is depression and depression is a low mood and state of aversion to activity that can affect behavior, thoughts, feelings and state of well being. Words used to define depression include despondency, dejection, gloom and misery. One of the ways of treating depression is through increasing interaction with others in group activities. When one is sitting in a couch at home, cowered, closed in, shut-out and feeling dejected tears flowing and a box of tissue as the only friend, it makes the world seem so harsh, restrictive, small, rough and unrelenting in its impact on you. This usually leads one to depression, but as soon as you expose yourself out there by interacting with others and listening to what they are going through, you may see how your mountain of a problem is actually just a molehill. It is when you speak to someone coming from a hospital visit where the situation is hopeless, talk to someone just off the phone with a medic at a horrific crash scene, talk to someone who has been told not to return to work again or someone who just lost a limb due to some condition that you see your problem shrink or maybe even disappear. Your problems are only as big or small as your circle of influence because it is from the stories told in that circle that you either write off or magnify your issues. The stories that you hear from others about where they have been, the journey they are currently taking and what they are facing daily makes you see how good or bad your own situation really is. Sometimes you end up not saying anything after someone has shared their story because you feel as if you were being petty about yours. You may even end up consoling the other person as if you have no issues in the first place. A challenge or problem must always be looked at within some form of perspective and context, because without perspective one may create a storm in a teacup. I have learnt that when you interact with others, sometimes what you thought was a huge problem becomes nothing more than a temporary setback from which you can recover compared to someone else’s irrecoverable situation. It is no reason to feel good about oneself, but it is definitely something to take one off being unnecessarily depressed.  In general, we approach life comparatively rather  than taking an absolute approach and this is better because one always looks for a point of reference from another in whatever they face. Let us continue to share our stories, as we may just help someone to migrate from depression to a better state of mind as they realize that their problem is really not that bad after all. It can always be worse, and it is definitely worse for someone out there, but taken in isolation, it seems as if what you are facing is the worst ever.

Image credit

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Biting the hand that frees

I once read a story about a Scorpion stuck in a thorn bush. Someone saw the scorpion and was trying to free it and let it loose. Every time she tried to free the scorpion, it would try and sting her. However, she continued on her mission until she got the creature free and it ungratefully went on its way without turning back to even say goodbye. The reason the person did this despite the pain endured was because it was her nature to help, but the flip side was also that it was the scorpion's nature to sting when its personal space was "invaded" (this besides it unknowingly defending non-existent personal space). So whether being helped or not naturally it will sting. Reflecting on this rather extreme example of kindness, I wondered how I have dealt with such situations in the past, where I have seen a situation where I can clearly assist in some way, or someone I could have helped, yet the counter party may not necessarily share in my intentions nor be easily helped, despite needing the help. It is not every needy situation that is easy to chip in and assist, as in some situations you are stung in the process of assisting. Does this stop you from doing what is in your nature to do? Do you change who you are in line with who you are dealing with? Just some thoughts I have also been grappling with in my interactions with the scorpions of this world. It is the nature of the scorpion to bite, but at least in human behaviour, your intentions can be gauged. Would you persist to help as it your nature, or would you shy away and leave someone to their peril because maybe they do not know any better?

I remember in one of my previous posts "Garbage truck encounters", Jay commented and said he "kills them with kindness" and continues to greet people who ignore him because it is his nature to greet. Another fellow blogger also spoke about having adopted a girl child who has been very difficult to integrate into the family, but she continues to guide and support the child as a parent would do, because it is a parent's nature to love. Do you persist in those attributes that are within your good nature, or do you adjust to other people's ways lest you get stung? How fragile are you with your interactions? I have not been able to consistently deal with people according to my own nature. This is something I continuously work on, however, I realise that sometimes I am prejudiced in my behaviour because if I know this is a scorpion, I already work out how I will deal with them differently. Remember, it is a scorpion's nature to sting, whether being helped or not, it naturally stings. What is your nature and how has it been affected by scorpions you came across caught up in thorns and tried to assist? Do you even try or not, and at what point do you wash your hands and give up trying? The assumption to take note of being, someone is really in evidently in trouble and they are also trying to free themselves, but failing. I am in no way suggesting that you are a superhero, but rather suggesting that human nature in general says we should support each other. There is noted trending towards individualism in today's world which affects this issue, so I have pre-empted that part. A lot of questions today, but I hope it gets you thinking in some direction regarding your encounters with people.