Behaviour can mask many fears

WE have been talking a lot in our house of late about things we are afraid of.

I’ve always told the girls that if they’re scared of something – anything – it’s important to talk about it.

At the same time, focusing on the issue can often make it worse, so it’s hard to strike the balance.

So we usually try to identify what exactly is scary, before breaking that down and coming to realise it’s not actually that bad.

Whether it’s fear of the unknown, failure, isolation, or a ‘creepy crawly’, we usually try to come up with some strategies to deal with it. What works for one (stomping on a spider) doesn’t always work for the other (screaming).

Mind you, it’s a bit tough to explain that concept to children when their mother is still scared of the dark, but moving on….

Fear is a funny thing – and it comes out in so many ways. I see it differently in each of my daughters and can now gauge when and where they need a little extra comfort or reassurance.

It’s taken a long time to work out that some behaviours need more understanding than others – and I’m sure I’ll be learning a whole lot more about this during their teenage years. But it’s difficult when we see it in adults.

Some get angry. Some panic. Some use avoidance techniques or disconnect and others go on the attack.

Some simply avoid what they’re afraid of (yes, like sleeping with a light on).

We see it every day – at home, in the workplace, among our peer groups.

And truth-be-told, most of us juggle our own fears every day.

We watch fear hold others back, and try our best not to trip over our own.

We watch fear hold others back, and try our best not to trip over our own.

I’m not great with public speaking or big crowds. They scare me, but part of my job means getting out there and doing it. That said, there have been times I've found excuses not to attend functions because I didn't feel like facing big groups of people.

I break out in a sweat on Ferris wheels and driving on high, winding roads. I prefer to fly with my children, rather than without, because they’re a welcome distraction from the fact my feet are not on the ground. 

Yes, we all have everyday things we are afraid of.

But the thing most difficult is when you know someone’s emotions or actions are driven by fear stemming from ignorance.

Ignorance breeds all sorts of things, including judgment, resentment and hate.

And with those three things come so many other issues.

That’s why I’m hopeful that in talking to the girls about what they’re afraid of and breaking those issues down, they will grow to be adults who do the same.

Is it something like a spider, that can be easily and calmly dealt with? Or is it fear coming from a lack of understanding?

Rather than being afraid of things they don’t understand, they will ask questions and educate themselves.

Because understanding leads to acceptance. It doesn’t mean we will always be comfortable, but it means we are not afraid.

And then we don’t judge, resent or hate.

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