Fear – it’s so primal yet so illogical. A fear or phobia can’t always be explained but can’t be argued either. One thing is certain though, fear is contagious.
Take my two daughters for instance. My oldest daughter has been deathly afraid of bugs since she was little. I think that somewhat had something to do with where and when she was born, during the bug high season. She was exposed to bugs and her mothers fear of them early on.
My younger daughter was born during the winter so there weren’t many bugs around. She already had a pretty good idea of what was going on around her by the time bug season rolled around and she wasn’t as phased by them as her older sister. In fact we often found her picking up bugs quite carelessly and putting them in her mouth (at that age she put just about everything in her mouth).
Now, my younger daughter is one and a half years old. She has been exposed to more bugs in her life now, but not only that, she has experienced her mothers and sisters extreme fear and frantic actions when bugs are discovered. These traits have rubbed off on her, and two sister’s fears and reactions feed off each other.
My younger daughter has been taught what to be afraid of by our actions, and she has been conditioned to replicate our reactions in similar situations.
Just like my daughters and their fear of bugs, we are conditioned and taught how we are supposed to act not only by what people tell us but by what we see around us. We see people fleeing the market in fear, hear people talking about the recession and how they are cutting back and we translate those actions into our own lives even if the recession and market haven’t been any different for us than they have always been.
The real trouble for us though comes when we try and change things. When fear is not present, we will start to forget about it and move on. As a wise man, Warren Buffet said, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” When what causes the fear is not present, it’s easy to plan, strategize and prepare in case the danger returns but as soon as it does the hard part is sticking to things and keeping your composure. That’s what makes a hero and constitutes courage; the ability to remain calm and think clearly in the face of fear itself.
With my daughters I tried to teach them that bugs aren’t all scary and we played with a rollie-pollie bug together recently. I held it and tried to edge it closer and closer to them. After that hour, my girls would come about one foot from me, and my older daughter even held out her hand to touch it, but eventually retracted. As soon as I set the bug outside, they were as brave as lions though. “I’ll hold it now” my older daughter said. But it was too late and the bug was gone. The fear was gone.
When we as intelligent, developed adults try to change our reactions and look at things differently, those around us still in fear balk at what we are trying to do; they point out reasons why things are scary and what we should be doing instead. They create a frenzy to get our attention and change our mind to match theirs because things that are different are scary, and things that are the same are comfortable.
Sometimes we need to just stop and think for ourselves; are the actions of those around us really what we want to be following or are they unrealistic, frantic or nonsensical. Will the result of those actions benefit me and my future or will they seriously jeopardize it?
Image by stuant63 br>