The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

October 9, 2012

Overcoming needless fears

What are you afraid of? Think about it.

When we were little kids, we were probably most afraid of being alone. We did not want our parents to go off and leave us, even if it was with relatives or people we knew. We had the feeling that they might not come back and pick us up ... or that they would forget about us and leave us there. They always returned for us, but for a moment when they drove away, we had that sinking feeling that we were alone in the world.

When we started to school we had the fear of not being able to learn all we had to learn. Can you remember how much was before us little kids who began our formal schooling? We thought we knew nothing and had so much to learn. The only thing is, we didn’t have to learn it all at once — it came in steps, a little at a time. And, of course, we know now that we never stop learning. It is a continuous process until we die. We just learn new and different things all the time.

One of our biggest fears during our growing up years was how we would fit into society. We planned and planned for dating years and then worried about the least little thing when those years did catch up with us. We wondered how our friends and peers would like us. We wondered if we would fit in. We always did, somehow, but we had those doubts just the same.

We were concerned about how our lives would turn out. What would we be when we grew up? That was discussed a lot back when I was growing up. What were our goals in life and for a vocation? Were we studying toward those goals and not just drifting along with no vision of our future? We were encouraged to get a well-rounded education as we went along, but decide what we would do with our lives. Usually those goals and ideals changed a zillion times, but nevertheless we had goals and plans.

When we got in college, we were again afraid because we did not know anyone. It took only a few minutes before we knew someone, but that minute seemed like a very long time. Everyone else was in the very same boat. They were probably filled with fear themselves. It was a common emotion that bound us to each other and made new friends.

There are many kinds of fear. Many are not really things that keep us alarmed, but make us apprehensive and dismayed. Not all are alarming and dreaded. Fright and horror and panic and terror are different kinds of fear than timidity and apprehension. No matter what we call them, they all evoke a different reaction in our nervous system.

My sister and I used to be so afraid of the dark. I never knew why. I guess it was just the sounds of the coyotes and dogs howling in the distance. We were never attacked by them or anything, we just talked ourselves into being afraid of those sounds. We could sit out on the porch all evening and listen to the “blind peeps” in the buffalo wallows in the meadow across the road from our house and never be the least bit afraid, but just let a coyote or dog howl off in the distance and we nearly tore the screen door off its hinges getting inside. Then we would giggle and giggle.

We thought when were were kids that when we got big that all our fears would go, but they just changed. We still have fears. They almost go in a circle.

When we got older, we again dread being alone. We worry about belonging and finances should we be forced to be in a nursing home or assisted living center. We are concerned about how we will cope in another era of our lives. The most we can do with our fears is to have the kind of faith to see us through them. They will never be completely eliminated, just changed.

In later years, we are concerned with health issues, being alone after a death of a spouse, making life-changing decisions about housing and property, being incapacitated, driving or having to give up driving and the independence that comes with doing things on our own. It is not fear, exactly, but definitely a concern, and if we dwell on things, fears set in.

My brother has a cellar partly under his house that he has not been in for years and years. He just knew in his heart that it was full of water or spiders or snakes or alligators or something terrible. He would not venture to even open the heavy door and look down inside. After his cancer and treatment for that, which has been horrible, he put everything in perspective and decided nothing was as bad as that.

So, he recently ventured into that unknown territory. To his surprise, the cellar was bone dry — in fact, dusty and powdery. There was only one tiny bug. It was in perfect condition, and all it needs is reinforcement to make it more stable, although it is safe now and the steps are in prefect condition. How funny that we fear things that turn out to be nothing! But how strange that the things we should be fearing never cross our minds and come as a complete surprise. Life is unpredictable.

Keep the faith. Whoever said “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” knew!

To avoid anxiety associated with entertaining, make a simple casserole and serve with a green salad and an easy dessert, like ice cream and warm peach sauce or butterscotch sauce. This casserole is much easier than making a pizza with dough and toppings.

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