Is irrational fear running your life?

April 1, 2015

birdsThe following story might sound like an April Fool’s joke, but I assure you – it’s not.
About a month ago, my husband (who works nights) woke me up around 3am to let me know he had accidentally let a bird into our condo.  He needed me to wake up and help him: 1) find it, and 2) get it out of the condo.  Half-asleep, I stumbled out of bed, ran down the hall, grabbed a large blanket and hid under it in the kitchen.  A major part of me doesn’t want to admit that I started to cry.  And why did I have this reaction?
Well, what you need to know about me is I have a fear of birds.  And not just a small fear of birds, but an insanely irrational fear of birds.  I think they are going to attack me.  I haven’t been afraid of birds my entire life, but there was an “incident” about five years ago (which is another story) that has caused me to fear all birds.
My husband eventually found the small tiny finch (it didn’t have the talons I imagined it did) and released it back outside of our residence.  With no help from me.
In the light of day the next morning, I was able to see how ridiculous my response was.  Crying in the kitchen?  My fear of birds is out of control.
But it got me wondering – what other areas in my life does irrational fear dictate my actions?

–  Irrational fear causes irrational behavior.
–  A large percentage of people avoid situations when they might possibly face their fear.
–  A small percentage of people say they aren’t daily affected by their fear.
–  Out of every two people, one person has a reaction to fear – like sweaty palms, panic attacks, or nausea.
Michael Steven Anthony Graziano, professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University, says: “Fear is so deep, so irrational, so immediate, that I can neither doubt it or examine it.”  

Besides birds, two other ways fear runs my life:
1) I fear what other people think of me.
2) I fear that doing one wrong thing at work will cause me to lose my job.
A friend of mine says that “Fear always lies…unless it’s a grizzly bear running at you…then run!”
It’s a funny saying, but he has a point.  Fear lies.
The lie: Birds are going to attack me.
The truth: Only one bird has attacked me in 34 years.  And the chances of that happening again are slim.
The lie:  If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.
The truth:  It’s okay to be yourself and let people in.
The lie: If I make one mistake in my job, I’ll get fired.
The truth: It will take more than one small mistake to get fired.
What fears are running your life?  And what is the truth behind the fear?
Unmasking the truth helps undermine the lie that fear tells.



Picture of Annie Duncan

Annie Duncan