If you're like me (or like pretty much anyone alive), you've experienced one of the worst feelings one can experience- fear.
Fear has a cousin named "anxiety," and while they overlap, they differ in some ways.
Most of us probably have gone through childhood fears- fears of monsters and supernatural beings and whatnot. Some people are afraid of the dark. Some people are afraid of certain creatures, like spiders or snakes.
One thing that has, in the past, irritated me is the notion of "facing one's fears" and the idea that by facing them, somehow the fears lessen.
I can count numerous situations where engaging directly with the thing I feared made things so much worse.
In fact, one remarkable note about my life is that anything I've ever genuinely had a fear of at one point and then later didn't fear simply disappeared as a fear of its own accord at an unknown time. I didn't do anything to overcome the fear. I didn't face it. I didn't engage with it. I simply grew out of it and left the fear behind.
We can be afraid of things that anyone would be afraid- there are awful ways to die and terrible experiences we could go through in life. I'm not sure how facing those fears would make us stronger.
In other words, I may rationally fear being physically assaulted, but I don't have to go through a physical assault to try to stop being afraid of it. That doesn't make sense.
Anxiety is a little more difficult to handle; fear can be one of its manifestations, but anxiety tends to be a broader-spread phenomenon where our nervous systems are hyper-vigilant. So, you may also have other issues related to the anxiety- things like acid reflux and insomnia, for instance.
Childhood fears that we grow out of and rational fears of terrible things that could happen aren't the real issue here. The real issue is when we develop fears and they don't go away. Irrational fears that persist are difficult to handle.
Sometimes one might get a good therapist and be able to deal with fears. Gradual introduction of something feared is one way of handling this.
Still, I wonder about fear. I wonder about the fears that I grew out of. I wonder what changed in my life that caused me to not be afraid anymore.
Some of my early fears were of being chased by our shop vac and our grill; I had nightmares about this constantly.
Given, if a shop vac began moving on its own, I would probably rightly find the situation bizarre, and a hot grill moving of its own accord coming toward me would be dangerous and something to be avoided.
But I don't have such nightmares now; something changed in me, and it didn't happen with my conscious processing of the fear.
I have other fears now, and I hope and pray I grow out of them. I hope and pray you grow out of your fears as well.