Fear of the Dark

“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.”
– Unknown

I wrote this piece a few days after the attacks, but decided to not publish it at that time. Today, however, I read Ngobesing Romanus’ post “What people fear the most” and I thought I’d publish this in response.

It is valid for all types of fear – not just fear of terrorists.


Let’s talk about fear – about terror.

Whenever an unusual disaster occurs, people start expressing fear. The terror attacks in Paris recently was a telling example of this. My government raised the perceived threat level, various US states stopped accepting refugees from certain areas (or entirely), people interviewed in various media say they feel threatened and more alert – staying away from certain areas, viewing people who appear to be middle eastern with suspicion, avoiding public transportation, etc, etc.

Are you afraid, Dear Reader?

If you are, why? Of what? The odds of getting injured or killed by an accident in our own bathroom far surpasses the risk of being the victim of a terror attack, yet I doubt people are afraid to go into their bathrooms. Few of us fear crossing the street or driving a car; few are afraid of preparing food; more of us fear going on a plane but they are still few in comparison.

At any moment, any number of accidents or assaults could occur – most of which are far more likely than a terrorist attack. So why do so many of us succumb to fear now?

It’s no different than a child’s fear of the dark.

We fear what we don’t understand, what we can’t see, and what we feel we have no control over. We feel powerless and uncertain, which makes us angry and hateful and afraid. And that is exactly what terrorism is all about – making us afraid to live our lives. Creating chaos. Inspiring terror. Making us unfree.

If we succumb to fear we give the object of our fear power over us.

That is exactly what terrorists want. That is exactly what bullies want. That is exactly what sexual predators want. Power and control over our lives.

Instead, “keep calm and carry on”.

That was the advice to the British people during the air raids of WWII. They lived under a very constant, very real threat of getting bombed, every day, yet they were told to go about their lives as best they could.

Be aware, not in fear.

Do not let the terrorists and bullies and criminals of this world control and limit your life. Be aware of the threats that are out there and take reasonable personal measures to protect yourself as needed. By all means, lock your doors and have security measures in place. By all means, avoid taking unnecessary risks in your life. By all means, if you encounter a threat to your person move away from it if at all possible. Be prepared – physically and mentally – for the dangers of life. Be aware of what is going on around you. Know that bad things can happen, but do not let them bother you until they do. You can’t predict where or when or how disaster will strike, so don’t dwell on it.

Do not let oppressors take your life from you while you still breathe – you are worth more.

Fear and Self-loathing

“Pay close attention to the particular thoughts you use to deprive yourself of happiness.”
—Byron Katie


Have you ever let your fear eat away at what you want most in life? I have.

This past week has left me in shambles, Dear Reader. Fear and self doubt that I was barely even aware of took up position in my life and started eating away at whatever I put within their reach. Instead of taking a step back, looking at what was going on and communicating in the right way, I retreated into myself and without knowing it I was guided by the beasts who reside in me

I suffer occasionally from anxiety-attacks brought on by situations that remind me of past hurts. Before I have a chance to evaluate the situation, my brain conjures up the negative emotions from the past and throws me head first into a fight-or-flight reaction. Often, it is weak enough that I can contain it outwardly, but not before a bit of damage is done. This time, I wasn’t nearly so lucky. This time, I went full-on into panic and lost touch with reality.

The result wasn’t pretty.

Now I’m dealing with the aftermath, and the damage that was done to my best and dearest friend. All I can do now is hope that the damage isn’t irreparable. I still have hope that things will turn out well, because I am determined to work for it, but that hope is clutched tightly in the jaws of my fear.

Fear is a hungry beast. It will consume us in a heartbeat if we let it.

And we can’t let it do that.

Fear only has power over us if we let it. It has no basis in the present and at best it is only an educated guess at something that might happen. We need to recognize that and take away the power it has over us. Instead of worrying we should do something constructive – face our fear, recognize it, put a muzzle on it and let it work for us instead of against us. We fear something because it can negatively affect that which is important to us, so instead of focusing on the fear itself maybe we should focus on whatever stands in front of it. Fear points us to the valuable things in our life and gives us the opportunity to invest in them.

Now I will focus on that which means the most to me. I won’t let fear rule me any more – will you?

I just pray that it isn’t too late…