The only thing we have to fear
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. American President, Franklin D.
Roosevelt, coined this phrase in 1933 and it is the one that most often comes to
mind when seeking to help people towards their emotional and mental liberation. It is
a haunting phrase sure enough and there’s no doubt that it’s an easy one to use, like
so many other clichés, without thinking too much about it. So, what does it mean?
Fear is an all-pervasive emotion and, arguably, the most powerful. We may seek to
disguise it, from ourselves and others, with a host of other emotions from anger to
joy. Indeed, it may be so deep-seated in our psyche that we are unaware of it
governing our motives and opinions and the everyday, minute-to-minute actions and
thoughts that form them. Fear paralyses. We may deny it completely but that doesn’t
mean it’s not there. Perversely, the greater our denial the more likely it is that our
fear is dominating us. Because it is the fear that is inextricably linked to our survival,
possibly even our existence. At least we think it is.
In a previous blog, The Trauma of Living, I have written about our ‘forgotten’, original
trauma. What if that trauma, repeated and confirmed day-by-day, hour-by-hour is
that unnamed fear carried with us all the way from our earliest days; unchallenged,
taken for granted, erroneously accepted long-since as an integral part of our being
from which we can never be free? What if we are allowing ourselves to be paralysed
by fear as an excuse masquerading as a mythical reason not to change?
Of course, we should never fall into the trap of thinking the fear itself is a myth; it
couldn’t be more real. The myth is that to take the enormous risk of confronting or
embracing it will result in our disintegration, that we will not survive it. That is the
myth. Then our fear, now outdated and no longer relevant, becomes a powerful
obstacle to progress.
All the time it is ‘unknown’ it retains and increases its power over us: once we
become aware of it then perhaps, with support, empathy and as much time and
patience as is needed, it is true that the only thing we have to fear is. . .