Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Faulty Ways Of Dealing With Fears

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9 NASB

Since fear is basic to human existence, we must learn to deal with it. But dealing with fear in the wrong way only makes matters worse. We can mishandle our fears by:
  • Numbing ourselves to our fears and ignoring them –
Trauma victims are especially vulnerable to this tactic. They often battle with a "loss of heart" because the pain of the trauma creates such an emotional overload that their internal circuit-breakers shut down and the whole system goes dead.
Unfortunately, if their emotions are not brought back on line, they will be extremely vulnerable to being victimized by those who would exploit their emotional numbness and failure to set appropriate boundaries.
  • Masking our fears by covering them up -
Anger and aggression are some of the most common masks for fear. An angry bully is not usually mistaken for someone who is afraid that no one will respect him unless he demands it. But intimidating others so that they would never dare question him is a common tactic of someone haunted by insecurity.
Those who fear a loss of control often become the kind of take-charge people who themselves become guilty of being controllers.  A chronic fear of failure can be covered by a mask of meticulous perfectionism. The entertainer can use his humor to mask his fear of loneliness.  The problem with wearing masks is that a person loses his true identity and cannot relate sincerely with others.
  • Minimizing our fears by pretending that they are not important -
"It's no big deal, that's just the way things were in my family" was the response of a man who had just told a painful story of being totally ignored by his father when he was 8 years old. When asked how he felt about picking his father up at the airport earlier that week, he replied, "There was no way I was going to be late for that man, even if it meant getting there 5 hours early." When asked how his father might respond if he were late, he snapped, "It's not what he would say. It would be the look in his eyes." 
This man had totally minimized the fear-and rage-he felt toward his father. Not only did his pretending stifle his relationship with his father, but it was robbing him of intimacy with his own family, whose pain he also minimized.
  • Rationalizing our fears by explaining them away -  
The fly says to the centipede, "I have six legs and I know how to walk. You have 100 legs; how do you coordinate 100 legs and walk?" The centipede started thinking about it, and he became immobilized and couldn't walk.
Some try to justify their fears superficially by excusing them as emotional reactions and nothing more. They see their fear as nothing more than a primitive defensive response to a neuron-chemical reaction between specific neurons of the brain.
The result is a mind-over-feelings mentality that closes off any healthy dialog about how our feelings are tied to deeper issues of the heart.
  • Exaggerating our fears by making dangers bigger than they really are -  
Phobias, paranoia, and panic attacks are examples of exaggerated and disabling fears.  Bruce Larson tells about a man who had terrible hallucinations that plagued him for a number of years. "I believed that there were wild, hideous animals hiding under my bed," the man told one of his friends. "Every night when the lights went out, they would come out, prowl all around the room and scare the stew out of me. But my brother finally solved my problem." "Oh, is he a psychiatrist?" asked his friend. "No," said the man, "he's a carpenter. He sawed the legs off my bed.
Phobias, for example, are fears focused on specific situations or objects that are somewhat risky but pose no real threat of danger. Phobias divert attention from the real issues that a person is avoiding by clouding them with a larger-than-life distraction.

Scripture to Claim:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians4:6

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