Thursday, January 28, 2010

If fear isn’t rational is reasoning effective in dealing with it?

no_fear_collage“…fear often cloaks itself as the rational, the thinking mind, and in this way demands obedience. If you disobey, you are being irrational.”

Lianne Raymond made this statement in her guest post last year on Christine Kane’s blog about her word-of-the-year Courage. I was struck by this statement appearing in a post about courage. I know we talk about how we could deal better with fear if we had more courage but so far that hasn’t worked out for me. Actually it sometimes feels like the more courage I have the bigger fear seems; and maybe that is one of its guises for getting the upper hand.

But Raymond’s juxtaposition of fear and courage reminded me of an article on Entrepreneurship Naomi at Ittybiz wrote two years ago where she posted this quote: “The absence of fear isn’t courage. The absence of fear is mental illness.” (Blog flagged for language and content; you’ve been warned.) There are three points to consider from Naomi’s perspective; courage and fear are not two ends of a teeter-totter, those who have no fear aren’t functioning in reality, and those who focus on getting rid of fear are being effectively distracted from achieving their goals. One thing Naomi does not say is that any of this has anything to do with being rational.

In late summer I mentioned Mira Kirshenbaum’s Everything Happens for a Reason in a book review. She spends all of chapter three on “letting go of fear,” although she adds that fear is part of all the reasons. She particularly writes about the “lies of fear … that it will keep us safe” and she advocates that people “stop hanging onto (fear) like a security blanket.” Something about this security blanket imagery rings true, even if it is not especially flattering, because have you ever tried to reason with a toddler to get them to give up their dirty and threadbare security blanket? It doesn’t work too well.

Fear is something that has had a choke-hold on me for as long as I can remember. Growing up in an insecure environment probably facilitated that perception in my case but I have known highly successful people from very secure backgrounds who suffered a similar affliction. So far I have not successfully reasoned myself into debunking the fear mongering; in fact I am usually at my most fearful while I’m doing whatever it is that I fear. Really, then, fear is more like a bully and most of us have learned the hard way that bullies can’t be reasoned with.

Obviously I have not resolved this fear issue effectively despite my circumstances providing so many opportunities to practice dealing with fear. This is hard because I like to be the answer person and one of the reasons I write is to share what I know or have learned.

So, for today, I am thinking out loud and opening a little window on my insides. Why? Well, for one thing thinking quietly within the confines of my skull has only succeeded in cutting me off and allowing fear to grow unchecked. And a second thing is that maybe someone else is suffering in silence because their own fear bully has cut off their usual supply line of information or encouragement.

1 comment:

Melissa Donovan said...

I do think some fears are irrational, but the most common ones are just our psyche trying to protect us. However, that's not always a good thing. We have to pick and choose which fears to face and which to follow.