Advice Column, Health, Parenting

Can Our Actions Increase Or Lessen Fear?

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Fear consumes our lives.  We base all of our decisions on our fears.  Fear is not a rich or poor man’s baggage.  It is not an educated or uneducated man’s burden.  Doubt has nothing to do with our upbringing, environment, the people we choose for friends, nor the people who are our relatives.  It is not based on jobs, capabilities or personalities. Just as we all have to eat and rest for survival, we all share similar concerns.

Strange to find nobody spends much time talking about our anxieties, unless we are going to a therapist.  The concerns of others, as well as our own apprehensions, make us feel inadequate.  Doubt brings us down.  It appears smarter to ignore our trepidations as much as we can.  But once in a while, they explode.  At those few and far between times we deal with them, resolve them as best we can, and move on.

Fear is perhaps viewed as a weakness, and vulnerability is not what society as a whole, admires. Our society values strength and independence. We function well in most situations. There are just those times daily, weekly monthly when we must encounter some forms of alarm, and resolve them for the moment. Instead of just solving them for the moment, it would be better to learn to understand them. so Logically they would either go away, or rarely show their faces. To strengthen muscles takes a long tedious time. To strengthen our understanding of fright is also a slow process. It will involve many setbacks. With understanding we will see fear as a natural strength that keeps us safe.

At times, we spend so much time contemplating about terror that we forget to simply live our lives. We need to begin at the beginning to understand where anxiety comes from, why it controls us and dominates our lives, how it affects us, what effects it produces, why it is detrimental to us, how we can see it for what it is, and how we can stop it.

We begin our lives in total fear. What’s happening? Why am I being launched out of my cozy comfortable environment? We are literally pushed away from our comfort zone. We struggle through a narrow tunnel and explode into a cold world. We then struggle to breathe. Getting jostled around, rubbed roughly, and invaded in our oral and nasal passages before finally managing to inhale a cold searing breath for the first time.

Welcome into the human world. After being swiftly wrapped, we are placed by our mother’s side for love, warmth and nurturing. Doubts arise from the start of our lives. Right from the beginning we are consumed with fear and thus begins our long journey and inseparable attachment to worry. I’m not really suggesting that our birth is the reason we live our lives in fear. Our births may be slightly traumatic, but existence is much more stressful and traumatic in terms of daily survival.

Babies cling to their moms and with good reason. They are aware that it is mom and dad who feed them and comfort them. Babies know that without mom and dad they can’t get to the food. Every moment they wait for mom or dad to be present and pick them up, and care for them. Their existence depends on their parents. The baby’s journey of a lifetime of fear has already begun.

If we questioned how important parents are to a growing baby, we would see why the baby’s terrors are a genuine reality. No one can explain to a baby that they will get fed even if mom or dad is not present. Grandma or Papa or some other caring adult will step in. If the baby was alert to this, the fear might dissipate but babies are not aware of all that is happening around them. They want their mother.

As a toddler matures, he or she begins to realise that other people are within his sphere and may help to satisfy his needs. It comforts a very young child, to know that they have more adults to rely upon in time of need. Our next journey through our childhood years begins with the realisation, that we are not the only ones in the universe. We are taught to wait our turn and share. This is no easy feat

When mom and dad are mad at us, we feel queasy in our stomachs. We begin to think. What happens to us, if mom and dad stop loving us? If they get angry with us, they might go away, and where would we be then? Most young children acquiesce and do as their parents instructed. Children don’t outwardly say what they are feeling, but they experience a love hate relationship with their parents. They trust them and run to them but also push them away in anger. They are striving for independence, yet still rely on their parents for survival.

When a new baby arrives, a tremendous anxiety takes root in the soul of its sibling. Now the child must contend with a rival. The young child views the parents gushing about the new arrival. He or she must now wait for the parents’ attention. Mom and dad have less patience, and time, since the baby arrived. At one time the parents would have laughed when he or she spilled the cereal. The child is not cute when they spill their cereal now. Nobody told the child the rules would change with the new arrival. There is a new playing field.

The fear of losing mom and dad’s love turns into jealousy with the baby. The child’s attention focuses on the baby. Jealousy evolves into frustration and anger. The resulting build-up of anger, and doubts about his parents’ love, causes the young child to retaliate with physical force against the new intruder or sibling. Now if parents do not handle this properly, the anger and retribution will continue in an infinite cycle.

The child is forced to learn how to manage their frustration, come to understand it, and then put most of it to rest. If a parent lashes out at the misbehaving child, the situation likely escalates. Of course a resolution is required, but a deliberate reflecting on the why of the matter, may help to alleviate anger on the parent’s side of the issue. The young child feels neglected, ignored and usurped from her or his throne. We are all aware as understanding adults, that nothing could be further from the truth. What the child sees as truth, is the reality of his own observations.

Later the child attempts harsher retaliations against the baby, entailing striking the baby or hitting the new baby with a toy. Although this is common, parents are upset. Realising the terror their older child is experiencing is crucial. Getting the older child involved with caring for the baby is essential. By getting the diapers or socks and shoes, the older sibling takes pride in mom and dad’s praises for his work.  If the situation is handled promptly, positively and with care and understanding, the next confrontation may be less explosive.

There will probably be a next time because likely, nothing changes overnight. However, each battle ought to be won by the parents in a swifter time. If all goes well, the siblings will learn to tolerate, like and love each other in time. If the remedy is not found siblings may embark on a lifetime of jealousy with their sibling rival. Parents want to avoid the hurts and dilemmas, that are the result of sibling rivalry.

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