The Burden of Fear

Over the past few weeks the issue of fear in my life has come up again and again and again. My mentor bought it up, my counsellor bought it up, random verses I read were talking about it and the books that I am currently reading both deal with issues of fear.

I cannot deny that fear is a significant aspect of my life. I seem to live in a perpetual state of it. What people will think of me, whether I said the right thing, whether my relationships are good, whether I am loving enough, whether I am loveable. These are fairly common issues really, many of my friends live with at least one significant fear, most have as many if not more than me.

It seems that fear is one of the driving forces of life. The thing that always puzzles me though, is that the majority of the things I fear are to do with a desire to be loved and yet the fear of not being loved causes me to put up walls around myself.

This contradictory self preservation can’t really lead anywhere good and sure enough, recent conversations and comments have revealed a deep seated selfishness and pride in me. Those I speak to say its not as bad as I think, but fact is – I don’t want to get hurt! I hate getting hurt, it hurts. Therefore I behave in such a way that will think of others once I have worked out how to best look after me.

Even as I write this, I am afraid of talking about how selfish I am incase people come back with ‘I am so glad you realised’ and I find myself rejected and alone.

Fear is something that self replicates. It can only produce more fear and anxiety. Love also self replicates, it creates more love and with it a greater level of security and safety.

Living in fear wears me down. It is exhausting constantly questioning what others think of me. The thing about it is, worrying about what others think of me puts myself at the centre of every encounter. I wonder how I came across, did I look ok, did I sounds wise and selfless, or funny and exciting. This mentality ensures that I will not be able to love others as myself as I always think of myself first.

The problem I encounter though, is how, in a world dominated by fear, do I step out and learn to love others as I want to be loved? When others are living these walled off lives of distance and self protection how do you love and live without ending up so battle scarred you are barely recognisable? Even as I mention this I think of Mad Eye Moody in Harry Potter. The level of scarring he encountered led him to such a state of paranoia that it became a characteristic those that kidnapped him had to replicate!

I don’t want to be held captive by my experiences, I don’t want to live in fear, and yet I don’t know how to move forward to a point where I don’t feel it is necessary.

My insecurities get involved in every relationship I am in. That with my boyfriend, friends, family, colleagues – all at some point have been asked a stream of insecurities that come from a paralysing fear of not being good enough, or of getting it wrong. I can’t bear the thought of either of those as it leads to the inevitable conclusion that those involved will walk away. How is it possible to live a life where you can be confident in your decisions? Where you are able to trust those around you without needing to depend on their word to get by from day to day?

This state of fear I live in leads me to disconnect myself from any responsibility. It causes me to put the burden on others to sort out their lives so they are more able to help to make mine easier. So many of us put the burden of responsibility for ‘issues’ in our lives on others. I learnt this week that saying sorry often isn’t enough. Going a step further and asking for forgiveness when you have wronged someone is taking responsibility for your actions and asking others to do the same. You enter into a verbal contract. ‘Can you forgive me’ ‘I will think about it’ means that actually, the responsibility for forgiveness is no longer yours. This is not to lessen the pain you might have caused, and perhaps, if someone can’t, you need to look at why. Sometimes though, it is up to the other to work out their stuff in order to let go of what you did.

This is often a rejection to the insecure mind. This is my battle. When everyone else is as broken as me, how do I find any sense of strength or courage? How do I find love that can drive out the fear?

The simple answer is I look to the cross. The bible is riddled with this level of love. I don’t know how to drown myself in it, but I do know, this fear I live in is no longer tolerable. Therefore, I shall commit to learning how to be fearless and in that, to become humble and selfless. By God’s grace alone but that is more than enough to get me finished!

9 Comments

  • i know it’s easy to say and hard to do, it took me 40 years, but if you can learn to love the you that you are, that God created, and that He loves, then your love for others will flourish alongside the healing of your fears and the growth of your self belief.

  • I think I am right in saying that the bible tells us 366 times (i.e. once for every day of the year plus one extra or for leap year) to take courage, do not fear, be strong and brave, do not worry, etc. It seems to me that feeling the fear and doing it any way takes real courage and you seem to have plenty of that. Well done!

  • Thank you for putting my feelings into words. Fear is debilitating. Weirdly, there’s also the fear of not being fearful anymore. Please continue to share the verses that you find helpful – they help me discover more, too. x

  • All you write resonates within me, and you hit the hammer on the head when you said, “This is often a rejection to the insecure mind.” Discovering how the insecure mind came into existence probably holds the answer..for me a lifetime of rejections, lies and so forth and then mental illness, very difficult to love yourself at anytime but always found it easy to love other’s until any element of rejection rears it’s ugly head and than BAM, defensiveness and wrong response flows forth. Not nice. How to get a grip? Thank you for your honesty, openness and humour. God Bless you.

  • Whenever I am afraid of getting hurt, or getting my heart broken, I remember what Rabbi Nachman of Uman said: there’s nothing more whole than a broken heart. It helps me understand that sometimes God teaches us lessons by hardships, and we become stronger because of them, and because of Him.

  • Hi Katharine,
    I think I composed a reasonably accurate synopsis of life – roughly a decade ago, I have always hoped it would help people and there’s a version on http://x56.xanga.com/f0ec2ae076030182142236/b139370419.jpg that stayed legible after upload…
    …If you take time aside to consider this I would love to hear your thoughts and appreciate any feedback.

    I am simply in awe of your recent foray in the media, presenting a very touching and vitally real perspective on life, I would very much like to correspond and expand wherever possible on such issues.

    In any event, take good care – all the very best to you 🙂

    Kind regards
    Christian

  • My name is Richard and I’m a freelance journalist who has depression.

    I just wanted to thank you for doing what you can to improve the profile of mental illness, as I’ve just seen your interview on the Telegraph website and you come across as the kind of lively, good-humoured and honest advocate that we all need. As I’m still a freelance at heart and always looking for a story, I’m also interested in how you’ve fused your illness with your faith. I’m new to the church myself, so I’m still negotiating the two, but it’d be great to either buy you a coffee or, more to the point, interview you.

    Email me at pendleton [at] btinternet [dot] com

    • I found your post to be extremely enlightening. I don’t consider myself to be religious, I’d say more agnostic and not in any kind of dubious of religion way, more of a “really don’t know” way. I have faith in things, but I’m not a person of faith (if that makes sense). I still find myself fascinated by aspects of religion and more specifically that of faith. Many people in this day and age throw the faith word around about many things, but I’ve personally found that in a religious capacity, “faith” isn’t something thrown about but that which permeates many and all aspects of someone’s life.

      Yet I still found several points within your post that I can relate to. Fear is an interesting creature I often see feeding on the insecurities of both myself and others. I can certainly relate to fear and insecurity “wearing you down” and I reckon so many other people can do too.

      As a person where faith is a gift I’m yet to receive, I hope the following doesn’t come across as misguided or wildly out of touch. I have always admired people of/with faith. In trying times I often wonder; does the very fact that someone has faith lead them to have something quantifiable they can project insecurities onto, thereby questioning their faith? Yet it is this very faith that can offer an anchor in the ocean of discontent. Faith being a way of providing inner strength and an ability to focus their efforts in finding solace and comfort.

      I think the aim of becoming humble and selfless is something that many people in society could benefit from. Though I do hope and wish that you faith helps you in your journey, and you continue to carry on with renewed vigour and passion for what you do. I’m guessing I only see a small amount of the work you do when I catch snippets on the news and online media, but it’s always good stuff. I sincerely wish that in days and weeks to come that fear is scared of you, rather than you being worn down by fear.

  • I found your post to be extremely enlightening. I don’t consider myself to be religious, I’d say more agnostic and not in any kind of dubious of religion way, more of a “really don’t know” way. I have faith in things, but I’m not a person of faith (if that makes sense). I still find myself fascinated by aspects of religion and more specifically that of faith. Many people in this day and age throw the faith word around about many things, but I’ve personally found that in a religious capacity, “faith” isn’t something thrown about but that which permeates many and all aspects of someone’s life.

    Yet I still found several points within your post that I can relate to. Fear is an interesting creature I often see feeding on the insecurities of both myself and others. I can certainly relate to fear and insecurity “wearing you down” and I reckon so many other people can do too.

    As a person where faith is a gift I’m yet to receive, I hope the following doesn’t come across as misguided or wildly out of touch. I have always admired people of/with faith. In trying times I often wonder; does the very fact that someone has faith lead them to have something quantifiable they can project insecurities onto, thereby questioning their faith? Yet it is this very faith that can offer an anchor in the ocean of discontent. Faith being a way of providing inner strength and an ability to focus their efforts in finding solace and comfort.

    I think the aim of becoming humble and selfless is something that many people in society could benefit from. Though I do hope and wish that you faith helps you in your journey, and you continue to carry on with renewed vigour and passion for what you do. I’m guessing I only see a small amount of the work you do when I catch snippets on the news and online media, but it’s always good stuff. I sincerely wish that in days and weeks to come that fear is scared of you, rather than you being worn down by fear.

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