Many believe the basic human fears are fear of falling, fear of abandonment, and fear of loud noises. If, when you were a kid your mother abandoned you by throwing you out a third-story window and you made a loud noise when you hit the ground, I don't think I can help you, but for the rest of you, read on.
A certain amount of fear is a good thing. It's normal. Normal fear directs us to look both ways before crossing the street. Abnormal fear prevents us from crossing the street or to denying our fears and crossing without looking either way.
Facing fear can be difficult but it is necessary. You begin facing your fears by admitting that you are afraid. Kids are more open about their fears than adults. One kid was really afraid of a big storm. His mother came in to comfort him. He said, "Mommy, will you stay in my room tonight?" She said, "No, I have to stay with Daddy." As she turned to go, she heard him say under his breath, "Daddy! That big sissy."
A little girl was in bed — scared of the dark. She went into her parent's room and told her mother she was afraid. Her mother said, "It's OK, sweetheart. There's nothing to be afraid of, God is in there with you." The little girl went back to her bed and as she climbed into bed she said, "God, if you're in here, don't you say a word, you'll scare me to death." Kids are open with their fears.
Why should we face our fears? Because living with fear has consequences. You've heard the expression "scared stiff" or "scared to death." Fear makes you frail. In a symposium led by a physician on psychosomatic medicine, he said, "In spite of what they say, almost all chronic patients who see a physician have one problem. That problem did not start with a cough, chest pain, or hyperacidity. In most cases the first symptom was fear." Fear makes you sick, frail.
Not only that, fear makes you fumble. When you are afraid, you have a tendency to not do well. The pressure is so great that it causes you to mess up.
It's like the guy who was out of money. He decided to rob the bank because he couldn't think of any other way to get the money. He didn't know anything about robbing banks so he practiced what he would say over and over. He got a revolver and a sack for the money. Then he practiced sticking the sack over the counter and pointing the gun in someone's face saying, "Don't mess with me, this is a stick up." When it came time for the real thing, he was really nervous but he was confident he had it down pat. However, when he got in the bank, fear took over and he handed the lady the revolver, pointed the sack at her, and said, "Don't stick with me, this is a mess up."
Fear can also make you frantic, causing you to be paralyzed to inaction or instead, causing you to make a terrible mistake.
Remember the children's story Chicken Little? Chicken Little thought the sky was falling. She told Henny Penny the sky was falling and all of the animals stampeded. They came upon Mr. Fox who offered them refuge in his den. In their panic they accepted and Mr. Fox had a feast.
Fear can also make you look foolish. A friend of mine got to start on the football team his sophomore year. He received the opening kick-off and dropped the ball, picked it up, broke through in the open, and raced down the sidelines with nobody after him. But as he was running, he glanced to his right and saw the shadow of somebody chasing him. He ran faster, but the guy stayed right behind him. He didn't want the guy to catch him so he dived into the end zone. He looked back and there was no one behind him. The shadow he had been running from was his own. Fear will make people run from their own shadow and do foolish things.
A guy interviewed for a job at a famous art gallery. He was asked, "If you could save one picture from a fire, which piece would you save?" He answered, "I'd save the one closest to the exit." If you don't face your fears, fears will bully you into living a life that seeks protection instead of progression.
I remember a time in second grade when a bully made my life miserable. The bully knocked me down, pushed my books off the desk, and called me names. Finally I got sick of it and decided to face that bully. I turned and said, "Look, I'm tired of this." You know what? She stopped.
Abnormal fear will make you frail, fumble, frantic, do foolish things, and eventually cause you to fail.
One time when I was taking a snow skiing lesson, the ski instructor came by and knocked me down. When I asked him why he did that he said, "You have made a lot of progress until today, but now you're making no progress because you are trying to keep from falling. You're not enjoying this and you're tense. I just wanted to show you that falling isn't that bad."
I can tell you a lot about your life by asking you, "Are you really enjoying life or are you just trying not to fall?"