Tuesday 30 March 2010

When someone else’s fear becomes yours

“Don’t get into the train from there; it will not stop for long.” “Don’t wash your hair after seven in the evening; you might contract a cold which will never leave you.” Well, well, well, how many times we internalise someone else’s fear and allow it to play on our waking hours. It’s strange to think that the thoughts that have not even remotely crossed our minds suddenly become prominent and affect our thinking patterns.

Fear has the remarkable ability to control our decisions and hold sway over us. Allowing fear to overpower our thoughts often give rise to a string of fears which attach themselves to the main fear. For example, taking the train instance from the first line, the fear of losing the train followed by the fear of losing money and then not getting to the stipulated place at the right time and etc, etc.

Observing this pattern of fear getting a grip on our psyche is a slightly difficult thing to do when we are wallowing in that emotion. At that particular instance, stepping away from the situation puts things in perspective. But somehow one cannot philosophise while undergoing the twin tensions of fear and its various effects.

I try to remain calm and try to have an objective perspective to the pressure of fear BUT my purpose gets defeated when an external force like x, y or z kindle the fire of fear and leave me all fuelled up.

I realise my inadequacies as a human and allow fear to take over me and challenge my ‘trying-to-be-calm’ attitude. The fear that was previously unknown to me slowly becomes MINE own. I don’t leave it at that. I pass on this fear to various scapegoats that cross my path. The fear is passed on . . .

As I write this post, I wonder how many innocent relatives/friends who were oblivious of any fear have contracted it from me. The fear continues . . .

I think it’s high time I stop giving in to someone else’s fear and internalising it.


  1. Tell me about it!!! Happened so many times with me Susan. Dont do this, not good for the family, Dont do that, you'll get into trouble. Ahh...Had enough of it. Sometimes people try to impend their fears along with their superstitious beliefs. The best way to get rid of it is to just ignore it. And it has definitely worked for me.

  2. The fears of the fathers are the fears of the sons
    for along with other traits fear too,in the blood runs.
    A pebble held close to the eyes will cover 1000 suns,
    the ones who understand this are the lucky ones.

  3. I hate it when people give "advice" based on their blind beleifs, superstitions, vague ideas or maybe just becos they gre up on it. I mean if u follow something why bother me with it. I could rattle off a whole list starting from not trimming ur nails in the evening to seeing the "auspicious" time for something as stupid as booking travel trips!

  4. I sure do have my own fears. I am not superstitious directly, but I go with my gut feeling, if something doesn't feel right, I avoid.
    But I sure would not like to travel on Friday the 13th.;)
    I do wash my hair after seven though.;)

    PS: I really like the new layout of your blog.;)

  5. Many 'beliefs' and superstitions are mostly all in the mind.. and yet many of us somehow add concrete to them by coincidences and handed down stories.

    Go with your instincts is what I always say..

  6. Oh yes. I know these common old wives tales all too well. Most of them are harmless and I roll my eyes, but when it places someone's life in danger, I worry.

  7. Agree Susan...start anew and leave it behind! Speaking of which...something has changed here and it looks great. Well done!!

  8. Yeah yeah yeah...!!! I know this is so bad..! What if meet with an accident is the worst line I have heard!

  9. Hey Susan :) Do you know that if we walk on road, we may get hit by car or bus? Now can I stop going on roads?
    Well on a serious note, yes the so called x,y and Z people try to infuse their thoughts as fears to us.But the fact is if we start thinking like that can we ever live normally? We can have fears to anything and everything. We can fear about inhaling dangerous gases and hence stop breathing also. Is there a limit?
    Of course its good to think and be prepared for the results of negative things also but we should always take a step in the calculated positive direction.
    By the way, Are you seriously passing on such fears to innocent people?:D. Then I believe that you are just doing it for fun. :P

  10. Sukanya:

    I am not talking about superstition here. It's the fear that someone creates in you which gets embedded in the system. On second thoughts, I guess superstition can be a subset of this fear.


    I liked the last two lines! How nicely you have expressed here. Thanks for the time Govind. I must salute your patience.

  11. Yuvika:

    Advice is fine than instilling unnecessary fear. Again I was not specifically talking about superstitions and blind beliefs. Certain beliefs have the evidence of science to support them.


    Gut feeling is sometimes defeated by these fear-creators, no?

  12. BM:

    Instincts, yes but somehow the patience to follow the instinct gets diluted when one faces a stiff situation.


    The fear-creators in a way are concerned and that is why they get panicky. I have internalised that fear and thus was born this post.

  13. Jeanne:

    Thanks for the nice words. My blog needed a makeover and there I go and change it.


    Hmmm. We all know it quite well.

  14. Asif:

    Asif, as I mentioned earlier it is not about superstition or any belief. I was talking about the emotion 'fear' as such. Many times fear is created not out of superstition but out of a feeling that something may go wrong. This fear is born within a person then (s)he should keep that to her/him self. Instead they try to pass it on as if it was some 'passing the secret' game. These fears have affected me as their panicky attitude gets passed on to me. A typical example would be 'get ready soon, or else the bus will go.' The tone of the person gets into your skin and thus you become agitated. You get what I'm saying here. It's not about superstition, I say this again.

    I don't pass on such fears deliberately but I was wondering whether someone out there thinks that I am passing on the fear to them. A loud thinking process.

    Gosh. it's a long comment. Maafi :)

    Joy always.

  15. Arey babaaa , I never thought this whole thing in the angle of superstition.
    I dont know how you ended up being there.
    Actually I wanted to let you know that there is no need to be afraid of such things :)...I just said it is our feeling/thinking that creates such fears.

  16. Well, if it was unintentional(in passing on to someone else), then our conscience should be clear. Which is why, we should never listen to any old wives' tales/myths/superstitions in the very first place. ;)

    The blog looks like a great makeover..nice !


  17. Asif:

    Well, well, there has been a case of taking for granted. All the above comments talked about superstition, so I assumed that you have also spoken along the same lines.
    You are right when you say that there is no need to be afraid but it is better said than done!


    Long time. Glad :) Ah! this kind of passing on is involuntary. Scapegoats pick up the fear so it's unintentional.
    Looks nice, isn't it? The meanderings needed a makeover and it got the same!

    Joy and love always dear Silver.

  18. Fear is sometimes what you make out of it. People will continue to scare you with their bad experiences not matter what. I totally understand that it gets to you at some point or the other.
    Your point on challenging the fear without internalizing is one. I have point here, people don't come to conclusions right away- there might be an underlying meaning. So, maybe we should look at it from their perspectives as well. Though this is not true in case of baseless beliefs. Sometimes a bad experience might leave you scarred and makes you fear a lot of other things.

  19. Susan, there are so many things you mentioned in this post that just resonate inside my head. You know, I have learned to do something... It is an exercise of sorts. I've learned that in order to overcome my fear of something, I have to allow myself to experience it head on. That means that I have to be at my most uncomfortable, at my most scared, at my most vulnerable. But I've noticed that when I expose myself to my fear, I am better able to identify it. And sometimes, after I have gotten to know it better, I realize that it's not quite as scary as I initially thought.

    Fear is a mind-boggling sensation, and it can lead to mental paralysis. When we are so afraid, we don't think rationally. We just think with our emotions, and that can sometimes lead to dramatic endings. And we don't need to pass the buck to anyone. We do need to take responsibility, every once in a great while...

    I've been really enjoying your recent posts, Susan. Great food for thought, and for self-analysis. :-)


  20. This I called: stress... as simple as that ... so many years of fear have led me to the fear of >FEAR itself... that was in 1999 when I had my first panick attack, the worst of all fears because you are afraid of yourself and you lose control of your mind.... Breath in and out ant the whole stuff does not work at all (Quite the opposite in fact) Ever since I experienced that for the first time my life changed for ever!
    So I know there something about what is worse than fear itself FEAR OF ONESELF...

    hugs dear friend

  21. ...we are "driven by a hundred forms of fear.." Big Book of AA

    Throughout history FEAR has ruled. Even the angels circulating among the old shepherds told them to "Fear not"...about the time of the first Christmas.

    So let us all be unafraid together.

  22. Sandhya:

    Yes, fear is what we make of it and sometimes I give in quite badly to this emotion. People do have underlying meaning to 'their' fears but on second thoughts, our experience might turn out to be different than theirs, isn't it? The internalising of fear seems absurd when stepping out of the situation and watching as a detached observer.


    Yes! you said it. Allowing oneself to walk into that situation and experiencing it for oneself sure makes a great difference. Mental paralysis leaves no room for sane analysis and that's why I get panicky, most of the times.
    You know, it's not actually passing the buck consciously but it happens that way.
    Thanks for your kind words, as always Nevine. I appreciate your words.

  23. Dulce:

    Stress is of course a part of anything that stifles you. Fear of fear is the greatest of them all, uncontested!

    Thanks for your lovely thoughts Dulce. You know how much I like reading them.


    The Big Book sure should be recommended not only for AA folks but for everyone out there. What say, Steve. It has words of wisdom for every situation. I like the way you quoted the angels' words. In fact the bible has 366 'fear not' for the entire year, leap year included.

    Have a lovely Easter Steve!

    Joy always.

  24. Fear is a paralysing emotion. For instance, as a student my biggest fear was mathematics. I was so scared of it Susan that the day before and the day of the mathematics exam were the scariest of my life! I lost my appetite and had nightmares of flunking or forgetting all my calculations and answers. The fear was further aggravated by the collective fear of other classmates outside the examination hall. Fear is indeed contagious.
    There are many such fears which, i also admit have been passed on to me by others. At times by a family member or a friend...And those fears mostly revolve around superstitious beliefs like not washing one's hair on Thursdays, not wearing perfume if one was to go out during late hours or mid afternoon, trying to find a four leaved creeper before an exam to bring good luck and many more.
    For this once i assume that one gives into these fears to maybe belong to the group and not go against it, now there again fear is the motive which drives one to keep in line with others' fear!! Even if we think of our relationships or day to day life in this context,many a times it is this emotion which makes people take others for granted or take advantage of ...
    You are very right when you say that we should stop giving in to someone else's fear because that alone can give us the power to annihilate its vicious influence over us.
    Here's to being fearless !!
    A thought provoking post.
    keep writing



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