Thursday


Secret fear


Saleh Al Shaibany

Everybody has a secret fear. It never surfaces until you are alone. You are then left to confront it in your own miserable way. Watching television never works but a quiet walk may help. The thing about fear is that it never gets better by brooding about it. Some find work a perfect way to forget but it is only a temporary solution. Besides, throwing yourself deep in your work can lead to health problems.

The worst thing about fear is that it isolates you from the rest of the world. You become incommunicable, irritable and self-destructive. You find you have many questions unanswered.

When solutions are a luxury, you begin to lose interest in everything. We tend to grow beards hoping the bushy face would hide us from approaching horrors. When it reaches a stage that we do nothing but stare on the wall all day, then it is ready to draw the final curtain.

It requires a strong family to get you out of the miseries. In its severest form, even families can do nothing but watch you go down. Conquering your worse fear is never easy but it helps to talk about it. Tapping the experience of people who were engulfed by fear and got out of it can help.

Once thing is for sure, you never get out of it unscathed. It will always be with you but the good news is that, once conquered, you are unlikely to suffer another attack. I was talking to a few people who had the problem and each one of them convinced me that they are now better equipped to handle problems than they ever been before.

What really fuels fear then? The most common element is insecurity. It often hits people who are ambitious with long targets of success. When you have worked out a careful plan and determined to see it through can lead to all sorts of anxieties. Insecurity is the product of the future and there are many uncertainties about tomorrow. People who think that tomorrow is conquerable are most vulnerable. You tend to detach yourself from reality when you see your future crumbling before you had the chance to live it.  The people I talked to maintained that taking one day at a time helps to trim down most of the anxieties.

"That way," I was told by a fear-survivor, "it keeps your expectations down and limits your ambitions."

He said there was not any harm in planning ahead but it was wise to have short-term aims than targets that stretch for many years. It is easy, he said, to accomplish short-range goals since you won't have a lot to do. This man made a mistake of making plans that stretched for 20 years. He worked harder each year to try to achieve it. The pressure got into him halfway through his plans. He realised that he had another ten years before he could taste the fruits of his labour. Then fear hit him as he started to wonder if  he had the energy to rigorously see out his plan. The thought put him in a panic drive that refused to go away. He did not want to let it go because he was scared to face a bleak future. Somehow, he found the courage to give up. The relief opened many other doors.

For many of us, the words "what if" stop us dead on our tracks. The future can only be a complete unknown when we don't give today a chance. I think the secret is to live well today and let tomorrow have its own plans.

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