Fear is a weird emotion. In one way fear protects us when we are in trouble. When danger is looming and our instinct sends signals to our mind. A signal warns us and we get this ominous feeling inside, we get afraid. Somehow we need this kind of fear to remain alert. But sometimes fear walks out of hands. We cannot shake it off anymore. This is the other side of fear. A fear that is in our way. It became our enemy that we are fighting against every single day.
Fear is a mechanism to protect us in times of danger but if we don’t control it, it can become our greatest enemy. An enemy so difficult to get rid off that we need the help of therapists and psychologists and even then it is unclear whether we can ever truly overcome it.
But often the fear is not the greatest issue. The greatest issue with fear is the way our environment is dealing with it. If you are lucky, you have people around you who support you. Who cheer you on and help you with your anxiety. This is an ideal picture because in 80% of the cases it is the other way around. In so many of the cases people don’t understand. In their misunderstanding, they wonder why you just cannot get over it. Why you simply cannot ignore it. Why you are making such a problem of something that isn’t even scary or true. They get annoyed with you. Tired of all the times you bring it up again, as if it really is a personal choice. Often the people who should support us most, are our worst enemies, if it comes up to fear. Not because they want to be, or are, but because they don’t understand!
‘Just because you are not afraid, doesn’t mean somebody else cannot be’.
For people who live with anxiety and fear, compassion and kindness is more than welcome. People who live in fear never made the choice to live this way. Things happened in life that hurt them so much. All there is left is fear.
Let me tell you about my personal situation. I have been diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder, in short it means that I have multiple fears at multiple places in my life. Growing up, I never had teachers who believed in me, in fact teachers saw me as a dumb girl and in my last class before going to middle (or High) school, they literally told me and my parents this. At home I was overprotected. My parents meant well but it had negative consequences for the future. I never had true friends. I was bullied. Even grown ups, who I was supposed to trust, turned against me. I have been through a lot. To deal with all of this and to improve myself, I have done 2 assertivity trainings, 1 anxiety course, I have had 3 psychologist and 1 therapist. Trust me, I have done my fair share of work to get rid of the fear. And still the fear is inside of me. Not because I choose to but because therapies either didn’t work or because they had a really bad effect on me. Life can be brutal to all of us, but sometimes we find ourselves in a place where letting go of the past isn’t as simple as it sounds.
And even now I have to say that the fear itself has never been my greatest hurt. My greatest hurt has been the way people deal with it. As a teenager I was very insecure. I was a wall-flower, a little grey mouse desperately trying to make herself invisible. It happened so often that, instead of supporting me, people took advantage of me by making fun of me. The times I have been made fun of, or laughed at, I cannot count them anymore. At home I was in a safe environment, where my parents, brothers and sisters-in-law definitely tried to help me, but out there in the world, I was an easy victim. Internship supervisors, grown ups who should know better, made fun of me and even bullied me. I was only 16-19 years old and I didn’t have the tools to stand up for myself as I have them right now. But it created a deep infectuous wound in my soul that I am still trying to mend.
All I ever needed was love, compassion and a helping hand but all I received was indifference. It is the very reason why I am writing this blog today. I want to make a plea to the world. Don’t hurt people with fear. Try to understand that some of us have a problem that we didn’t create and cannot overcome.
‘Instead of ridiculing people with fear, we should lend a helping hand’!
We cannot take the fear away. We cannot make the insecurity less, but we can be friendly. A smile is one of the easiest ways to make a person feel comfortable. A smile is a kiss of love that your heart gives to a stranger!
Greeting someone is not that difficult and can make such a difference. Simply saying ‘Hello’ to someone, even when we don’t like them, can make someone feel welcome and wanted. A feeling this person maybe never felt. People always feel that in order to make a difference in the world, they have to do missionary work in Afrika or Asia. But the greatest difference you can make is right where you are.
Love, kindness and compassion are not that difficult, it just takes a willing heart!
If you read this blog, can I challenge you to be a little kinder to shy, insecure people and to people who are dealing with fear? Can I challenge you be kind to them and to help them? Can I challenge you to stop making fun of people? Trust me, with a little bit of kindness you can make such a big difference in a person’s life!
My kindness came from my last internship supervisor. A lady who went out of her way to give me a little bit of strength. After all of the unkind, and sometimes even mean, supervisors, she was a breath of fresh air. She taught me to stop seeing myself as a failure. She taught me perseverance. Don’t give up when you make a mistake but try again until you can do it. She made me feel one of a team, something I hadn’t felt…ever! She made a difference. A difference I will never forget!