A Brush With Fear

In my early 20’s I lived in a remote area that still had punts or ferries as there were also known, at river crossings as there were no bridges. I had pulled up at the punt crossing in my car and noticed whistling coming from the engine bay and notice the temperature gauge registering it was overheating. I had just missed the punt so there would have been a 15-20min wait and I couldn’t ignore it. Luckily I had a 2 litre bottle of water with me, it was better than nothing. I had heard somewhere to leave the motor running so that the head won’t crack from the change in temperature so I left the car idle as I lifted the bonnet. In those days cars didn’t come with fancy covers to shield you from the spinning fan of the engine, so I had to take extra care with whatever I used to remove the cap as to it not catching and pulling my hand into the blades. As I listened to the high pitched whistling, my heart pounding and my chest ached as I breathed heavily. I was terrified, trembling and alone – with a 9 week old baby asleep in the back seat. I knew I had to do something or the engine would cook. I used a pullover and doubled it up and slowly twisted the radiator cap slowly tilting it away from me and waiting for the imminent spurt to thrust it out of my hands. To my relief there was only a small puff of steam and not the imagined gush of scalding steam and liquid. I proceeded to pour the water into the radiator and quickly replaced the cap as fresh steam streamed out. After closing the bonnet I returned to the driver’s seat, I sat there quiet and shaking. The whistling stopped and I silently sat listening to the humming of the engine at idle. I looked back at my son who was still fast asleep in the baby capsule. A sense of achievement came over me as I sat there patiently waiting for the punt.

Why do we have fear?

We have fear because we have preconceived ideas about the potential outcome because of something that has happened to us before or to someone else we know or because we saw it happen, read about it or were told about it by someone who heard about it, saw it, read it etc. Usually it happened once or in some cases, merely had the potential to happen. Even the fear of the unknown can come from other fears, hence the need to know all of the answers before taking action; some call it minimising risk and is the reason why we do so much planning for future events, sometimes to the “nth” degree.

Phobias are generally not about the item itself, e.g. spiders, snakes etc. If we trace it back through our life emotionally we will find that it was more likely to be the item that we associated with the traumatic event, one usually from our early childhood. Also there is generally no memory of this due to the trauma associated with it. With trauma is an element of terror. Terror is real in an emotional sense. It is emotion frozen in time and when it is accessed through some form of emotional clearing work it will be expressed at the age it was frozen. For example if you were sexually molested as a child, say 3 years of age, in most cases there is no recollection of it due to obvious emotional, physical and psychological trauma. The memory of it has been supressed and when accessed there will be shaking and trembling, possible screaming and crying as the emotion is experienced and released- as if we were 3 again. That was an extreme example, another one would be: you as a child playing with a daddy long legs or other spider or bug and having your mother hysterically shrieking at you in total panic about how it will hurt you. Can you imagine how distressing that would be for the 3 year old?

What is Fear?

Fear is: False Expectations/Emotions (and Beliefs) Appearing Real. When fear is present the truth of the situation at hand is warped and the automatic response is to go into defence mode. I believe the flight or fight mode is bred into us and is not part of our natural state.

I’d like to talk about fears that most people wouldn’t classify as fears. I’m talking about fear of being: wrong, rejected, embarrassed, shamed, let down, unloved, abandoned, alone, punished and failure to name a few. Want some more? There is also being: ignored, forgotten, misunderstood, unheard, silenced, unworthy, undervalued or invisible. I think you get the picture! When we have these types of fear we are generally living in the past.

In Closing

People constantly process the information around them through their own emotional filters. By information I am referring to everything that is seen, heard, touched, tasted and smelt. Every moment people perceive the world around them through these emotional filters. Over the past four years I have observed how fear dictates people lives, the choices they make and how that in turn puts limitations on what they do and don’t do in life.

I can talk about this as it is something I am always looking out for in myself and have grown from as a result. My observations include myself not just others; what I observe in others I turn around and look out for situations where I may have done the same thing or made similar decisions (inaction is also a decision). It is quite humbling and yet powerful at the same time.