April 13, 2010

The Concept Of Fear.

"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

Fear. That unsettling feeling in the pit of one's stomach, that unexplainable emotion that overcomes us at different points in our life. And which will rule us for a moment or longer, as we feel saturated with sadness or aggression. Bringing us to the bursting point and at times plunging us into the dark abyss of our minds.

We can feel different kinds of fear; fear of being hurt, emotionally and physically. Fear of changes, fear of abandonment, fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of not being accepted or loved. Fear of loosing control, fear of being ridiculed. Fear of loosing someone or something. Fear of the future. Eventually fear of death.
And perhaps of life itself - the worst fear of them all.

We grow up with fear as an emotion. Some will claim that we are born fearless and only learn to display fear, as we sense it from our parents. Of course, as we grow older, unpleasant experiences lead us to harbour fear for certain situations or events.

A small dose of fear is actually good. It is indeed vital. Some people suffer from a rare condition called "Hypophobia". This means that they can not recognize danger and have no sense of fear. Individuals that experience this disorder are not afraid of anything, which can eventually lead to devastating decisions or choices. However, exaggerated or an irrational fear gives rise to phobias, which can impact our lives in the most haunting ways.

I know that my own fear, or the feeling of anxiety has certainly risen with age. Sometimes I envy my "young self", almost admire her at times. That young girl that packed her bags and flew half way around the world to the unknown. Without an ounce of fear, only an adventure in mind. Who never lost sleep or worried about the future, left problems in the dust and stuck by her ideals, never accepting that which was wrong, feeling empowered by her conviction.
Today she is only a distant memory.

I have developed a few phobias over the years, my fear of flying being the main one. I have also noticed that I dislike enclosed spaces and at times crowds of people, situations that make my heart race and my adrenalin level to rise.
I can lie awake late at night, woken up by a slight wind breeze, as strange and unnerving thoughts enter my mind, consuming my whole being, making me afraid. And making me wonder, where are the times when my sleep was heavy and undisturbed.

I guess ignorance is bliss. Not knowing the danger, not having anything to loose makes us brave and daring as young. Later in life, when we closely considered the consequences of every change, when every step counts and when making the wrong turns comes at a cost, we grow more cautious and we become more weary.

I have at last surrendered myself to the fact, that I might never be fearless again. As the summer of my life nears its end, I seek tranquility and stillness. Sometimes I long for a change, as I reevaluate my achievements and sometimes I still feel the calling of adventures ahead. And perhaps when my gut tells me they feel right, I might give into them one more time.

Today I know that fear is a constant that will be present in my days - in one form or another - for the rest of my life. It will rule my consciousness occasionally and at times, it will be justified. However, some fear has to be conquered, as life lived in fear is only life half lived. Playing it safe at all the times is futile as after all, we never know what tomorrow brings.

I have realized that as I grow more afraid with age, I also grow - in a certain way - more courageous.


Rajesh said...

Wonderful post. Small dose of fear is absolutely necessary.
My younger son was fearless and I was worried about the same he being not able to recognize danger. But now he is afraid of one or two things which he will overcome soon.

Unknown said...

oh i feel old. Ten years ago i can say that i feel so brave or i was brave. Am like a bull. No fear. Then as i get older i see life differently, maybe in a more realistic point of view.

I am Denise Katipunera

Brian Miller said...

i think there is a difference between fear and wisdom. if it keeps you safe, its not a bad fear, if it limits you, thats not good. happy tuesday friend.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

What a lovely post dear Zuzana, like always! Kind regards.

Betsy Brock said...

I see that fearless adventurous spirit in my 18 year old!

Donna said...

Wonderful post, Zuzana.


Jean said...

Que j'aime ces deux photos !
La lumière est magnifique !

Claus said...

Profound post Zuzana!
I am scared of so much, I always try to avoid the subject so that I don't get myself in that hole of desperation and deep thinking that always lead me to the worst of my fears: death. Since we are still in a work week, I better stop thinking about all of this, and not go deep into it; I know where it leads me. I hope I can be courageous one day though, and be brave and a confront fear. Now, nevertheless, is a young process,and I have a long way to go.
have a good day!

Claus said...

Profound post Zuzana!
I am scared of so much, I always try to avoid the subject so that I don't get myself in that hole of desperation and deep thinking that always lead me to the worst of my fears: death. Since we are still in a work week, I better stop thinking about all of this, and not go deep into it; I know where it leads me. I hope I can be courageous one day though, and be brave and a confront fear. Now, nevertheless, is a young process,and I have a long way to go.
have a good day!

Anonymous said...

I felt more fear when I thought "I" was in control of my life. Turns out, I cannot possibly control it all, and the fear has lifted. Very freeing, and instead of worrying about what's coming next, I embrace it!
Hugs for you, Zuzana!

sprinkles said...

My biggest fear at the moment is that I'm going to lose my house if I can't find a job within the next few weeks.

I also fear spiders and snakes.

Anonymous said...

Fear is very powerful, but we give it the power. It is hard to take that power back, but definetly is possible. Thank you for a very thought provoking post today. Wishing you sweet slumber : )

Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...

words of wisdom,
what inspirational post!

Dan said...

Hi Zuzana
I think what you say about collecting fears along the way as you move through life is very true. I'm not sure if mine are fears or worries, and maybe a bit of both mixed in together - especially whilst lying awake in the early hours of the morning!
I think fear has also heightened with the reporting of events in the media nowadays - if you want to worry and fear less, stop watching the news!
Another great post from you, and certainly food for thought.
Best wishes

Reading Tea Leaves said...

I recognise quite a few of your phobias in myself Zuzana and have become fearful of some things with age and yet in other respects I feel less guarded and more brave! I flew to Australia on my own in my twenties (AND stayed for almost a year!) although I had friends out there to welcome me. I couldn't do that again - I can just about cope with a short flight to Europe these days!

I too dislike enclosed spaces and crowds - strange for a girl who grew up in a crowded city.

You have certainly opened a debate here my friend - thank you for this profound and candid post.

Jeanne xx

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Had I been expecting it when it happened, I would have predicted that my major feeling upon my husband's walking out would have been hurt or rejection. Those were there, of course, but the overwhelming emotion I felt was fear. As I have progressed in this most recent journey, I have conquered more than I ever dreamed I would be able to do. But I--like you--fear more as I age. And, now that I feel "alone," it seems enhanced. Still, there was nothing to do but face it and do it. So far I have. It has been a growing process and, certainly, I have become a more defined person than I was before. So, facing fear: I would never choose it, would still avoid it if I could, but I do recognize its value. Thanks for a great post. C

G said...

What a great post, and who can't relate in some way? I'm more fearful in some ways than I was when I was young, and more resigned in others. The Mandela quote is so true. And I do believe that when we share our fears, they disipate. Hugs... xoxo

steviewren said...

In my twenties my husband worked at night. I hated it when he would leave the house in the dark...I would lay awake all night scared of who might be lurking outside in the dark. The slightest noise would spook me. Many nights I would not be able to sleep until the sky began to get light. I'm been so thankful that this same fear no longer rules my life.

I do believe that as we get older, we begin to understand that there are no guarantees in life and fears begin to creep in.

Kath said...

I loved that book "Feel the fear and do it anyway". I try to make myself do something outside my comfort zone as often as I can. Without exception, these "risks" have paid off, whether it be driving to an unknown town, or tackling new, where I fear failure.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

Oh Zuzana...such a well thought out post!! You are right, as we get older we do become more realistic about the dangers that are "out there." But, I do agree with Brian in that we must NOT let our fear limit us.

Let's be courageous! And plunge on in life!

Fantastic post/topic!

Zuzana said...

Rajesh, Denise, Brian, Philip, Betsy, Donna, Jean (welcome), Claudia, Zuzu, sprinkles, LadyCat, Ji, Dan, Jeanne, C, BPG, Stevie, Kath and Jill, thank you so much for taking the time to read this somewhat candid, but hopefully inspiring post.

I enjoyed greatly your take on the concept of fear and the way it effects us at times. And I love your positive outlook, which I hope comes across from my writing here as well. Your lovely comments are always a joy for me to read.


Holly said...

What a wonerful post. Beautifully written! I enjoy your insight about so many things. :)

Sniffles and Smiles said...

You are so very, very wise! And I simply LOVE the words of Nelson Mandela...what an inspiration he is! Your new profile photo is beautiful as well! Hope you are having a wonderful week! ~Janine XO

Cat in the road said...

This was one of your more powerful pieces of writing. Very poignant.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I can so relate to this post. Off and on throughout my life (even as a small child), I have fought fear and anxiety. I can go long periods of calm, but then something will happen to shake me to the core and I will again feel like the timid, fearful child. My parents, in somewhat different ways, also suffered from anxiety, so it may well be that my biochemistry is geared that way. Of course, I may have just modeled what I grew up seeing in my home of origin. Maybe it isn't so important to know the cause, but I do struggle with this, sometimes not so much, but sometimes it has been disabling. I also especially hate to fly - because I am totally out of control, but I do force myself get out of my comfort zone most of the time. I am no spiritual giant, but I do lean on my faith to support me. It IS the only way to deal with an uncertain world--for me. I do believe that it is necessary to resist fear that has no basis and I use prayer and self talk to do this. It helps. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. V.

Hilary said...

Terrific post, Zuzana. Certainly we can all relate to walking that fine line between fear and courage.

I see you have made some nice changes on your blog.. not the least of which is removing the "Protege" and replacing her with the real you. :)

Zuzana said...

Holly, Janine, Scribe, V and Hilary; I am very happy that you took the time to read through this a bit more contemplative piece; I appreciate so much that you shared with me your thoughts on this subject.;)

To Hilary; thank you.;) I thought the other name started to sounds somewhat foolish by now.;)


tony said...

Yes, fear changes with age.And your right Zuzana,Fear is a universal thing.
It's not always good to lose fear.For example: in my younger days I had a dread of Formal Job Interviews.I stuttered a bit;blushed;rambled etc etc. Sometimes I got the job\sometimes not.
It annoyed me, & i determinded to "do something about it". In later life I somehow became very relaxed in Interviews. My body language became the complete opposite.Good 'Eh? Only trouble was, I now often appeared so laid-back a flippant that the Interviewers often thought I wasnt really interested in getting the Job! Hey-Hoy!

Gal Friday said...

It's always interesting to me that people whom I think have it "all together" can have their own fears.
It seems no one can be totally fearless.
I, too, am fearful of flying(among other fears and anxieties), but know if the opportunity arose , I would jump on that plane(mabe have a little supply of medication to get me through the flight?)

I hope one day(soon) you'll just "do it" and jump on that plane, too, Zuzana.

Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

Took me a while to find this; ironically it was partly because of things going on here that could lead one to become fearful. I have been studying the concept of fear in the Bible lately. I was struck by how often God consoles us with "fear not," and then a reassurance of His love and care. Also, I noticed that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and got to thinking about how the less we fear God, the more we fear everything else. It is probably harder for you since you are there alone without "arms" to hug; but it helps to know you are not ever really alone. Cyber hugs (and real prayers) from me to you. :)

Von said...

Life can be an adventure at any age, death is the last great unknown, it' all about attitude.