Thursday, February 3, 2011

Letting go of Fearful Things

Maybe fear is just an artifact of childhood. A child needs to be pliable and controllable, and to pick up avoidance behaviors quickly. There is survival value for a child in having a strong sense of fear in reaction to unknown and threatening things.

Most people become much less fearful as they grow up. It seems clear to me that the strength of an individual's fear-instinct lessens over time, as long as the person is living in a healthy emotional environment.

I don't understand my parents' fearfulness as a normal, healthy or useful response to the actual circumstances of their lives. My mother had her doubts; but my father seems completely convinced that his strenuous effort to be as safe as possible at all times and in all ways, is effort well-placed. His understanding of Christianity is mainly that it is the safest course. God is a loving God because He gives us this opportunity to be safe. You have to take some risks in your investments, but with proper understanding of financial markets, these risks are actually the safest course.

I have to appreciate the value he actually puts on the life he is living. When my life was similar to his, I saw little worth protecting. I was miserable in the present time, so why would I want to ensure that this would continue into the future? I don't have insight into his thinking because I cannot follow it. But I see that when he laughs, it is often a carefree laugh. He taught me lessons I am sure he didn't intend to, for better or worse. He still does.


  1. Fear is a huge theme in 12-step programs like AA, which is thought to underlie most all negative emotions and impel one to drink or use. So a major objective of working the 12 steps is to overcome this fear and be able to live a happy life free of addiction.

    I'm not sure about children being fearful. Fear may be a popular way of controlling them -- I think it probably was in my experience -- but I'm not sure that children have a lot of fears naturally built-in. A frustration as a parent is that one's children don't seem fearful [i]enough[/i] of dangerous things.

  2. It is a challenge - how do you convey to a child that some things are dangerous, while maintaining his or her basic confidence that the world is a good place to explore?