After reading Cuzzo’s post yesterday, I too wanted to analyze a word that I deal with everyday. That word is fear. Fear is defined as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”
Charles Darwin described it as “Fear is often preceded by astonishment, and is so far akin to it, that both lead to the senses of sight and hearing being instantly aroused. In both cases the eyes and mouth are widely opened, and the eyebrows raised. The frightened man at first stands like a statue motionless and breathless, or crouches down as if instinctively to escape observation. The heart beats quickly and violently, so that it palpitates or knocks against the ribs… That the skin is much affected under the sense of great fear, we see in the marvelous manner in which perspiration immediately exudes from it… The hairs also on the skin stand erect; and the superficial muscles shiver. In connection with the disturbed action of the heart, the breathing is hurried. The salivary glands act imperfectly; the mouth becomes dry, and is often opened and shut.”
I think that the definition is particularly interesting in that it allows room for things that are perceived and not real. In order to qualify as a fear, there is no reality component to qualify. There is room for the mind to conceive the things that we fear as a way to prepare us and motivate action. Notice that the definition makes no mention of inaction due to fear. Society has conditioned us to feel that fear is a terrible thing. That if we are fearful we are weak. I in fact beg to differ. As Darwin pointed out there is a biological and practical function for the reactions that fear induces in the body. I know there are examples in my life where fear has caused my body to become hypersensitive and because of that hypersensitivity I was able to notice things that I would not have noticed if I was in my normal state.
However, there are things that are not and were not worth me fearing. The reaction that fear causes in the body ultimately tiring. Theoretically, the reaction to fear would tire us out and ultimately make us more susceptible to a danger if it was to come after a false alarm. I always wondered if the body has or ever had biological checkpoints that would prevent this. We have all been guilty of being afraid of things that were not worthy of our fair. I for one was afraid of bats. Not baseball bats. But bats that fly blindly. Up until I was ten years old, I was afraid to open closets because I thought that a camp of bats would attack me and suck my blood or even grab me by my arms and carry me to bat land. I’m glad that I never allowed my fear of bats to prevent me from opening closets. However, there are some things that I still fear today. Example: I fear flushing the toilet while I am still seated on the toilet. I always think that water might splash up my cornhole or even worse water my get in my mini me.
What are your fears? Do you allow fear to paralyze you and prevent you from taking action? Do you have any fears that are outright ridiculous?