Conquering Fear


nn Landers, the former well-known newspaper counselor, received an average of 10,000 letters a month. Almost all of them are from people burdened with life's problems. She was asked if there was one problem that people seemed to struggle with more than any other. Her reply? Fear!

Yes, fear is a common problem from which none of us is immune. According to a well-known doctor, 90 percent of the chronic patients who see today's physicians have one common symptom—fear.

A recent issue of The Christian Businessman reported the results of a survey that revealed the following major concerns of small business owners; a fear of poverty, a fear of criticism, a fear of illness, a fear of rejection, a fear of growing old, a fear of being separated from loved ones, and a fear of death.

These fears are by no means confined to business people. They are common to us all to some degree, along with many other fears, such as a fear of failure, fear of losing one's job, and a fear of feeling inadequate—one of the most common fears of all.

Then there are innumerable phobias such as a fear of the dark, fear of high places, fear of closed-in places, fear of insects, and so on.

Fear is very much a part of life. It is a God-given emotion. We rightly fear driving through a red light or riding with a reckless or intoxicated driver. In right amounts, fear is a strong motivator, a self-protective survival factor.

Ninety percent of the things
we fear never happen.

Fear becomes a problem when it is irrational or when we have too many fears. Fears can be listed under one of several categories such as the following: fears that are normal and healthy; fears that are imagined, fears that are projected or displaced, fears that are learned, and fears that are caused by a threat to our security—either physical or emotional.

Fears that are imagined. As somebody else has said, 90 percent of the things we fear never happen. A further 9 percent we often make happen ourselves. For instance, a person who has a deep fear of failure (conscious or unconscious) may get himself so anxious about failing, he will make himself fail.

Imaginary fears need to be recognized for what they are—which may not be easy at first—and then, with practice, refused to be believed.

Fears that are projected or displaced. These fears have their roots in the past. One lady I know was badly burned in an accident some years ago. She now has an "unreasonable" fear of fire. Just the smell of smoke will trigger her unresolved memories and inner terror.

Or take a man who, when he was growing up, felt totally smothered by an over-controlling mother. Unless he faces and resolves his old fears, chances are he will now project them on to his wife and have an unreasonable fear of being controlled by her.

In fact, whenever we overreact, we can be almost certain that we are projecting or displacing an unresolved fear from the past onto a present situation.

Continued on Page Two

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