Fear Everything, Fear Nothing


Fear is an interesting emotion.  The lack of fear can lead to taking extraordinary risk, and an abundance of fear can be paralyzing.  Fear can be justified by circumstances, or fear can be based on irrational thoughts.  Whatever the reason, it is real to the individual experiencing fear, and it can ultimately prevent us from achieving our goals, big and small. Dealing with fear effectively requires us to confront the fear and the reasons behind our fears.

I have a fear of heights, likely resulting from several falls as a child.  The fear has intensified, to the point that I am now uncomfortable with most height related situation; flying, driving over bridges, ladders, etc.  I rationalize it in many ways, most frequently thinking that I’m not so much afraid of heights or falling, but it’s the landing part that scares me. Hot air balloon ride? Doubtful enough sedative exists to allow that to happen.  I rationalize that anyone who is reasonably intelligent and loves life and their family would be afraid of the same things I am afraid of.

While not everyone is afraid of heights, we are all afraid of something.  I find it particularly interesting that my patients are often fearful of things I have become quite accustomed to.  Blood, squish swelling, popping and cracking of joints make folks squeamish.  People are often afraid that there is something sinister causing their pain, or that they may have a broken bone or torn something-or-other that has gone undetected.  I have come to realize, and our professional literature trumpets this notion, that fear leads to avoidance behaviors which frequently prevent us from getting better, or achieving our optimal outcome.

So, how do we best deal with these fears?  Information is a powerful fear fighter.  I am learning that to allay patient fears I need to educate about the bodies amazing inherent healing power, the fact that we have many clinical and para-clinical tests that indicate when ‘bad things’ may be happening, and the fact that to get ‘better’ our condition only needs to be better, not perfect.  An x-ray or MRI won’t always tell us if we are better, but they sure can scare us into thinking we might be worse off.

Finally, working through our fears requires baby steps.  For those who are not naturally confronters, we need to gradually and persistently push-back at our fear, whether it is of heights, darkness, long tunnels, crowded venues, or our pain that can seem so mysterious and frightening.  Take it one step at a time, working with a knowledgeable professional, pushing back the darkness and looking for the light.  We can’t let fear rule.  After all, someone needs to replace those spotlights on the corner of my house.

To your pain-free movement,