As much as we may attempt to deny it, conceal it, self-medicate it, or distract ourselves from it, we might all do well to just admit it:
We are frightened and afraid.
This radical world of ours can sometimes be a very terrifying place to be, especially during times of severe unrest and upheaval. Random violence is fast becoming the norm, and places that were once recognized as “off limits” (schools, hospitals, places of worship) are no longer so. Our safety and security seem to now be capable of “turning on a dime” anytime; anywhere.
In psychology these times are being referred to as the “Age of Trauma,” and anxiety and depression are being diagnosed at an unprecedented rate. In an age of material advancements and comforts, minds are still suffering significantly, and humanity still has quite far to go before we transcend our still primitive and violent natures.
However, there is a “silver lining” here, dear Friends. I will tell you that what seems to be a direct collision course with disaster is actually a necessary transition towards a new human awakening. Conditions that are seeming deteriorations are actually setting the stage for a new consciousness where fear will reign no more.
However, while this is all underway we still have many casualties to attend to, and we need a current means of managing and healing worry, anxiety, and the stress response.
F.E.A.R. as an acronym has been defined as “Forget Everything And Run,” and this is actually a scientifically correct account of what actually happens during the human stress (fear) response. An area of the brain known as the amygdala activates, while the area involved in executive function (the pre-frontal cortex) becomes less active. The result is typically mental confusion and a “fight or flight” reaction.
An understanding of these dynamics leads to a different acronym for F.E.A.R., that being “Face Everything And Respond.” Here, we are capable of being trained to manage fear and the stress response differently. We learn to regulate amygdala dominance and keep our pre-frontal cortex engaged.
How we do this can be illustrated with another F.E.A.R. acronym. We master fear via:
Faith, Encouragement, Actualization, Resilience.
Faith can be applied as a reliance upon a higher source of power, as well as trust in our own innate capabilities.
Encouragement refers to the building up of ourselves and one another so as to foster confidence in the face of challenges.
Actualization considers how we can “come into our own” and emerge as “forces to be reckoned with.”
Resilience is our ability to “dig deep” and “grit it out” through “thick and thin.”
I have combined these three acronym versions into a F.E.A.R. Matrix (see accompanying meme) to guide us in taking a new approach to fear in our lives and in our world. I pray we will consider it, memorize it, apply it, and live it in our daily lives.
I close with three sayings that address fear from a philosophical as well as practical perspective. I will leave the individual reader to decipher and apply them as each is inspired:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” ~ Paul the Apostle
“I want nothing, I fear nothing, I am free.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt