By Anny Jacoby
Whether you get stung by a bee or simply watch as a friend gets stung, you might start to run and hide every time a bee buzzes across your path. Why do you do this? It turns out that your brain areas that respond when fear is learned through personal experience are also triggered when we see someone else afraid. This definitely explains why some people are afraid of things like spiders and snakes despite little contact with them.
You learn fear by observing other people's emotional expressions that can be as effective as having direct experiences yourself. This certainly explains one of the reasons why a lot of people have phobias of certain kinds of stimuli, such as rape, assault, abuse, stalking, abduction and much more. Just the thought of the aforementioned makes individuals extremely uncomfortable and justly so.
Fear is defined as an emotional response to an unknown or impending danger or as in expectation of harm or evil. Fear can create feelings of apprehension, anxiety, alarm, dread, fright or terror. When you are in fear, you are scared of someone, something or a potential outcome.
We all experience fear at one point in time or another. Actually, fear is a great way to keep us from hurting ourselves. Fear keeps us from putting our hand on the hot burner of the stove. It keeps us from jumping from high places, or leaves us tentative when going into a darkened room. These types of fears are good. They keep us safe. They make us think before we do, knowing full well the potential outcome and repercussions of our actions.
We can experience fear of closed in spaces such as elevators, afraid of the water or flying in airplanes. Fear is a reaction or response to some previous life experience or trauma or even the thought of any potential dangerous situation. Fear can impact us in many ways and it can steal our dreams. The bottom line is.......fear takes away our choices. It can keep us from doing the things we want or need to do for ourselves. It limits us, constrains us and can end up ruling our lives. It can consume our energy and enjoyment of life, leaving us experiencing additional unexplainable stress, frustration or feeling just plain stuck in the mud.
Being in or living in fear is all about choices. You can choose to move forward, or you can choose to stand still marking time.
Fear does not have to be a "freeze" mechanism that prevents a beneficial reaction. One must decide what frightens you more - being dominated, injured or killed by an assailant/batterer, or taking a risk and fighting back. You may hurt yourself somehow by protecting yourself against your assailant, his knife might nick your ear, a bullet from his gun may graze your head, or you might end up with bruises and your body sore; but you're chance of being alive is much greater than not. Learning personal safety (realistic self-defense) mentally and physically is a means to escape and ultimate survival. If you are too scared to react defensively and decide to remain under an assailant's control - he will have his way with you. Your mind can be more dangerous than your assailant. You must turn your fear into an effective reaction thus allowing yourself to be empowered.
Psychological fear leads to doubt and hesitation. Unchecked it can result in anxiety and/or panic. When you begin to doubt yourself you start to think, "What if I lose?", "What if I get hurt?". Thoughts of this sort must be eliminated from your vocabulary. You must remain positive, assertive and focus on the ability to motivate yourself=empowerment.
Miraculous things happen to those who consciously choose to overcome your fears and embrace them. You gain certainty in your safety skills, abilities and downfalls.
What do you fear? Perhaps it's time to turn on the light and step through the door of empowerment.
"Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out."
-----Karl A. Menninger
Take care and STAY SAFE!