Fear is often really sneaky. Sure we all recognise fear when it comes to heights and we are climbing a multi pitch route up a mountainside or perhaps the fear you recognise is arachnophobia when you see a giant spider zip across the floor and under the chair you’re sitting on. This kind of fear is obvious. Our hearts race, we get sweaty palms, we jump up or shake, we scream… Fear as a survival mechanism.

It’s the sneaky fear that is the most devious. Fear can masks itself as other emotions, like anger, without our even realising it. A good example of this is when our child has a near miss with getting hurt. We are SO afraid that they could have been hurt that we get angry at them for the near miss, even if it wasn’t in their control or simply an accident.

Perhaps a less obvious example of anger rearing it’s ugly head, when it’s fear that should be front and centre, is when we fear being unloved or alone because of misunderstandings with partners or friends. Instead of being honest (consciously or not) that it’s fear we are feeling, we get angry with our loved one. The irony is that the anger pushes loved ones away when it’s connection and closeness that is most needed.

Fear can shame us into shrinking away and withdrawing from loved ones. I feel ashamed at the way fear has silenced me when it comes to family crisis. When my cousin’s husband passed away leaving her young family with two little ones younger than my own, it hit a nerve. I felt so afraid. Just the thought of that happening to me was terrifying. It wasn’t happening to me though, and yet I couldn’t shake those (self centred) feelings. Then I was afraid to say the wrong thing. What could I possibly say that could ease the pain of losing your loved partner and parent to your children? At the very least, what could I say that wouldn’t make it worst?

Fear really gets in the way of honesty. Honesty with ourselves and others. So many people are afraid of not being nice or hurting feelings. They say “yes” when they want to say “no”. They stay facebook friends with people they’d rather not be friends with at all. Sometimes it’s the fear of hostility or angry words that make people not want to be honest.

I’d like to say that I hate fear but it does have an important role in my life. It raises alarm bells when I’m in an unsafe situation and will make me act to make myself or my children safer. If I can tune into the fear behind some of my feelings, then it’s a great indicator of what’s real inside of me. We have to accept fear as the important survival measure that it is but we also have to scrutinise our other hard emotions to ensure that they are not fear masquerading as something more destructive.

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4 Responses to When Fear Gets In The Way

  1. ~Chelsea~ says:

    Hi Annie,

    I really appreciate this. It happens all the time only most people don’t seem to acknowledge/realize why they retreat. On ‘this side’, most widows I know come to see fairly quickly that we represent most people’s greatest fear.

    I know the fear of saying the ‘wrong’ thing – and if you spend any time on widow blogs there is a great deal of complaining about it which doesn’t make things any easier – but I try to look at the intention rather than the words, and generally its good. Believe me, there is nothing to say to make the situation any worse.

    Take care Annie,

  2. Annie says:

    xxx Thank you, Chelsea. Love you!

  3. Erin says:

    I chewed on this for a few days as I thought about it all. Fear is such a worthy thing to discuss and to understand and share our experiences with. Fear and grief, can be closely intertwined.

    I am hearing through your words some things that bring me comfort with my own recent experiences of grief, of how it brings so much of our “fear” of loss of the good, of the joy in our lives to the forefront with an acuteness we can’t bare to stand. I recently experienced this feeling with regards to my niece losing her husband, and I too, didn’t know what to say that would help her, or express my depth of feeling, but chose my words as best as I could. I learned that in my expectation (unjustified!) that others should “know” how to comfort me, that really we’re all learning in our own ways about grief, transition through difficulty, and pain. Everyone’s response will reflect where they are at, and it is ALL OKAY. I learned this too, when I came across a blogger’s “words of wisdom” about what to say and what not to say to a grieving person. I noticed their list was very different from what I might put on my own list. I really want to hear any and all words of condolence, because I am choosing to hear the “intention” and to experience what is alive in the person sharing as best as they can, with usually loving, positive intention, from their own place of processing. I found I was mildly insulted to have my “needs” assumed so generally, and I recognized that it was more of a reflection of that individual blogger and where he/she was at on their journey. And that THEY WERE OKAY, and DIFFERENT than me. But their list didn’t fit me at all, and that was good to remind myself. It allowed me to be free to be an individual, free to make mistakes, and to put the lesson of how to receive something back into the other person’s heart/wisdom. I’m not sure if this made sense.

    Wishing you so much peace on this journey of self discovery. You are a blessing in your ability to share so honestly and to help so many others, Annie.

    In appreciation,
    Erin xo

  4. dawnsuzette says:

    Annie, I am just getting caught up from the holiday break. This is a beautiful post and rings true for me in so many ways.

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