It is not what we think we fear, but what we link to what we fear that is the problem.
When I saw this idea expressed in a book about fear, it was an “aha” moment.
Fear is a necessary reaction to some things in our lives. A poisonous snake, a predatory big cat, a patch of quicksand or precarious footing on a high place – these are things to which we should react with fear. There is a danger that needs to be avoided or confronted. Denial of the danger is folly.
Linking one dire outcome to the next, we can be bound by the initial cause of our fear. Using the wrong fork at a formal dinner does not mean you will be laughed at, judged as a fool, lose your job, become penniless and die on the streets of starvation. This is a comical linkage of one fear to another, yet more often than we realize we create so many links to a simple fear that we have created a chain of fear that immobilizes us.
When there is a specific target for our fear, we can do something about it. When we link all kinds of increasingly dire outcomes to that something then it becomes greater than it really is. One of the problems with posttraumatic stress is that all the links to the initial fear are triggered by some reminder of the initial event. One of the problems when we talk about death is the linkage that has been made to eternal judgment beyond it.
The Christian idea of resurrection helps to take away the links to the fear of death. When we can trust that whatever lies beyond the veil of death will not be harmful and damning, then death loses its sting. We do not globalize a fear of dying into an eternity of suffering.
How many other fears have we globalized? If we have no links to our fear, there can be no chains of fear to bind us. We can face the dangers of living in a way that is more likely to produce positive outcomes.
Celebrate the Resurrection. Stop letting fear rule you. Go ahead and use whatever fork you want.