Most of us are afraid of something. I have a crippling fear of heights. I think my fear is more of falling from great heights than the height itself. I have no idea when or why this fear manifested. Another fear of mine is losing control. I have a neurotic need to be in control of my faculties and surroundings. It’s regulated now…mostly.
Have you ever stopped to think about why you fear certain people, places, or things? Is it such a bad thing to fear? We have built-in evolutionary tools in our brains to help us survive. Fear is one of the tools that keep us from harming ourselves. If used properly, fear can be a good thing to have.
Fear has gotten a bad rap, and it’s not as complicated as we try to make it. A simple and useful definition of fear is: An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience. Fear, like all other emotions, is basically information. It offers us knowledge and understanding—if we choose to accept and embrace it sensibly.
There are many meanings of fear depending on the context. Many books, podcasts, and blogs are out there that delve into the basic fears that we all have. Dr. Karl Albrecht lists five fears of which almost all of our other so-called fears are manufactured. These are:
Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just “fear of death.” The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it’s commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships. This is a big one for me. I like to be in control of my life and body.
Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The “silent treatment,” when imposed by a group, can have a devastating effect on its target.
Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
Tomorrow, we will examine two verses about fear that have been grossly mistranslated.