Frightened erroneously and reverently

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

There is one tiny little word that has enormous implications. It’s the kind of thing one could spend days contemplating, if not months or even a lifetime. What is that word? Fear.

Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil
~Aristotle

Simple, yet as complex a morpheme as any uttered.

Fear as a thing, a noun, is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

Fear of what?

Fear of the unknown. Fear of being wrong. Fear of differences, fear of change. Fear is like handcuffs. Fear is our master and we so often abide like a trusty servant.

I’m not sure fear is even something we rationalize. It’s definitely a condition of being human and from that respect we give up our power and hand it over without remorse. It’s a response that we rarely question. The what if’s… and the better not’s… that put our innate aversion to change on exhibit, as well as our reliance on conformity.

It’s the thing that keeps us in the same hairstyle for 20 years, in the same dead-end job, in the same unfulfilling relationships. It prompts us to cross the street to avoid a homeless person, or become a bully to overshadow our insecurity, or spend money on possessions just because the neighbors have whatever we don’t. Fear of not keeping up.

Through antiquity, fear served us as humans. We can’t forget that fact and shouldn’t. Fear is a powerful emotion.

Fear is a great motivator. Captains of industry, marketing gurus, doctors, lawyers, pastors, even teachers use fear as a weapon. Weapon? Sure.

Big money is made by playing on fears. People are lead by playing on fears. People are controlled by playing on fears. We take medications we are told to take. We baptize our babies in fear of God. We buy insurance policies to hedge our risks. We cover our flaws with makeup, clothing or expensive watches. You tell me, is fear present in any of these decisions?

I’ve coined an acronym for fear: frightened erroneously and reverently.

Frightened, obviously. Erroneously, maybe yes or maybe no. I lean toward disproportionately yes. How about reverently, as if to worship? For some, fear is the only truth. It’s all we have to believe in.

Fear creates discomfort and a lot of people will do anything to avoid feeling uncomfortable. That’s a belief.

I realize, as I read over the post to this point, I’ve given the impression that I believe fear is overwhelmingly negative. It can be, however, fear can actually be very good. Fear, without a doubt, is a creator. Used as a springboard instead of a noose, fear can be an instigator allowing great growth, freedom and development to occur.

I’m not trying to encourage you to leave fear behind or get over it, somehow. My only point is to simply get you to recognize fear as a driving force in life. Recognition is everything.

Here’s an idea. Surrender to your fear. By surrender I mean subordinate yourself to it.

What? Yes, you read correctly. Surrendering or subordinating yourself to fear is different than you might think. It means stopping the defensive moves we use to protect from whatever we’re fearing. Let fear win.

Become cognizant that fear is in control. Your emotion is motivating your action, choice or decision. It’s right there in that spot, in that moment, where strength is discovered. It’s right there that you finally have the strength to let your fear rule or rule your fear.

Identification through subordination.

So, maybe I haven’t contemplated fear for a lifetime, yet. Trust me, I will.

However, I have taken a step that a whole bunch of people don’t and may never. I try to identify the role my fears play. If a decision is coming from a place in me where I can pinpoint feeling frightened erroneously and reverently. I let it win. But, I win in the end.

Finally, a favorite quote of a very special friend that’s rather apropos to my point and what I will leave you with as I hope you contemplate your own fears today and through your lifetime.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
~Frank Herbert

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