There is a wonderful Spanish proverb that is imprinted on my mind since I first watched Strictly Ballroom: Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias. And it is true. If you live a life in fear, it is like living half a life. But if you stop and think it is actually frightening to consider how much fear is part of our lives. Fear of not being adequate, of getting hurt, of doing something wrong and getting punished. Fear of not accomplishing your dreams and risk being considered unsuccessful even by yourself. Fear of losing control, and then of having too much of it. Fear of not having enough, or of having too much you are in danger due to the envy of others. Fear of the uncertain, of the unknown. Fear of not being safe. Fear of embarrassment, of loss, of defeat. Fear of change. And lately the fear that you will not be able to provide for yourself, let alone for your next of kin. The fear that you or your possessions are no longer safe no matter where you are. That even banks – those institutions that used to guarantee the protection of your life’s savings – will now rob you blind, let alone the risk of your accounts being hacked into.
Sophocles put it well: to him who is in fear everything rustles.
There are so many sources of fear that if you constantly dwell on them you will never even live, being afraid of even your own shadow. And the worse thing of all is that “there is no passion so contagious as that of fear” (Michel de Montaigne). Fear feeds on fear itself.
Everyone is afraid at times. It is a natural feeling to have. And fear is indisputably part of our lives. There are even times when fear is good, for it keeps you alert and is watchful of your heart’s desires. But how much it takes up of your life is clearly a personal choice. You can either chose to surrender to the gloom or resist the anxiety that looms behind each corner and perpetually feeds on itself. Negative thoughts accentuate fear. All you have to do is turn on the light…