If I woke up tomorrow with no fear what would I do first? Fear is a very unpleasant emotion which causes a person to believe that someone or something may cause them harm, pain or danger and could also be a threat to them. A person can develop a fear through conditioning or a learned behaviour (like a fear of dogs) especially if they themselves have experienced a traumatic event in their lives or have a loved one who may have, and in turn instills that same fear upon them.
My biggest fears I had growing up were never learned or conditioned behaviours, in fact they were and still are quite the opposite. I have always had an extreme fear of thunder and lightning, heights and my greatest fear of all is undoubtedly flying. None of these fears stemmed from a traumatic event in my life and none of them were passed down to me from my loved ones, but the best news of all is, I have yet to imprint any of these fears onto my own children.
So how did I go from having some very common and quite normal fears to where I am today? They say that most of our fears surface during our childhood and adolescence and continue to grow into adulthood, most of which are quite manageable in our day to day lives. My fears that I have been battling since childhood have never really impaired my day to day life because let’s face it, they aren’t fears that control a person daily. Over time I have learned to weather a storm, stay away from tall buildings (and water slides) and lucky for me, travelling by plane is hardly ever in my vocabulary!
But again I am left pondering how I got here. How going from having a few simple childhood fears has escalated into chronic and severe ones that affects every aspect of my life, most of which is not even triggered by an event or happening. It’s just there, leaving me in a constant state of fight or flight response. This feeling causes me to have a very difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep. It also causes me to have a great deal of irritability and sudden outbursts of anger. I am also continuously finding myself unsettled, lacking concentration, easily startled (and that’s an understatement) and ready to react to my threatened state of mind. I live daily with subconscious pains, a heart that is beating so fast it feels like it may jump out of my chest and unrelenting flashbacks. It is a very lonely and scary place to be.
My fears keep me feeling incapacitated, guilt-ridden and impulsive. The impact of feeling a chronic fear affects how I feel physically; it leaves me confused, forgetful and unavailable mentally. It may come without any warning and leave me with impaired judgement. It stops at nothing to try and beat me down. It leaves me very vulnerable. It leaves me feeling embarrassed and it leaves me very tired.
I’m pretty sure a lot of my fears bare no logic to an outsider looking in, but they are very logical and extremely overwhelming to me. I am able to recognize that many of my fears cause me intense anxiety and panic, and that they are often not realistic causing me to avoid many people, places and things. I feel pressure to relent to my fears and often feel so powerless as well, but I also know that sometimes fear can be used to keep me safe and protect me from danger. I understand what triggers many of my fears and I am learning to talk back to the negative thoughts and engage the fears with fight instead of flight response.
Facing my fears head on takes a lot of practice and patience for me and my loved ones. It’s been a long battle especially when my list keeps getting longer rather than shorter, but I have definitely been doing a great deal of reflecting while writing this blog in response to the very first sentence I wrote; If I woke up tomorrow with no fear, what would I do first? The answer is simple, I would place both feet on the floor and get out of bed! What would you do?