Being Afraid

“Be afraid! Be very afraid!”

These are the words my young student sometimes said as she walked towards the carpet in the morning. The finale? The huge grin on her face as she looked at me for my reaction. These were probably words her older siblings said to her while they were playing games such as “monster” or “tag”.

And I think this should be our treatment of fear – acknowledge it, and then grin at it. Being afraid often paralyses us and prevents us from acting, from moving forward. We allow the fear to grip us, to bind our actions and movements so that we become passive onlookers. Our fear takes on the dimensions of the unknown in horror movies. We scream internally, afraid to step forward, or to step back.

And yet if we acknowledge and respond as we do in the game we play with children, our fear would take on less importance. It would still be there as we are experiencing the moment; but it would not paralyse us and prevent us from moving forward in our lives.

Often now, when I think of fear, and of being afraid, I think of a grinning six year old girl with long pigtails approaching me with the stance of Frankenstein. I cannot help but smile, and feel the fear lessen its tight hold just a little.

What do you think of when you are afraid? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

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14 thoughts on “Being Afraid

  1. I don’t ever think I am afraid, I get very nervous, but to me being afraid is when my life is in danger or something like that, and luckily that has never happened to me. I do wonder what I would think about or how I would react.

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    1. I think it depends on the situation and exactly what the threat is. Either you think clearly and are able to act; or your are paralysed.One always hopes that one is able to act.

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  2. I have found that fear should be responded to by one of the classic reactions. Fight, or flight. Doing neither is a sure way to screw one up. Flight is often the best option, when the fight one is going to result in disaster. Fight is undoubtedly the most satisfying one, as I have found in meetings with muggers.

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  3. Love the fight or flight comment. What to do when you feel fear at work? Flight,not always possible. Fight? Not the best solution either.

    Colline, I would love to see what your readers think about fear at work and what do they do to cope when they can’t flee or fight. When I’m not in meetings, I hum or sing out loud, use humor. But, none of these options would be useful in confrontational/adversarial meetings with management….and my singing is really off-key!

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    1. Our environment does a lot to suppress our instinctual reactions. When one’s life is in danger though, the instincts are hard to suppress and we do what is right for us at that moment. As for the jungle of the boardroom or the workplace – is it fear we feel, or the desire to let our inner selves be free without any repurcussions.

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