All types of fears have the element of a stern warning: the “think twice” principle. Healthy fear makes you carefully prepared for a try, but alarming and debilitating fears make you stay out of it all. In the sense of making you prepare carefully, healthy fear is an optimistic feeling, while alarming and debilitating fears are pessimistic. Healthy fear instills wisdom and respect, while alarming and debilitating fears result to tyranny.
You fear someone you highly respect. In this sense, fear is a byproduct of wisdom and high esteem. You don’t fear the person because you are afraid of him. You fear him because he excites admiration and reverence. You fear the president of your country, for instance, because he is a figure of power and authority. You dare not offend the president, yet you like to meet him personally. You appear your best when he is around, carefully shake his hand, and make sure that you say only nice things. Then you tell everybody the honor of being able to meet the president personally. This fear has a way of bringing out the best in you. Fear, in this sense, is actually awe or wonder.
In the same sense, a young man who has romantic feelings for a young woman may have some kind of fear whenever he approaches her, more so when he faces her parents. But this fear doesn’t stop him from pursuing his good intentions for her. Likewise, an employee, even without having committed an offense, may fear his boss. Yet, he keeps reporting for work everyday. Job applicants also experience the same with their interviewer. Just the same, they go ahead with the interview. School children often fear their teachers and principals (oftentimes even more than their parents), but these students enjoy school. It is said that children treat school as a second home, and teachers as their second parents. Healthy fear births respect and propriety in relationships.
Nevertheless, once healthy fear is consistently fed with wrong information, it may lead to alarming fear. For healthy fear to remain healthy, there must be healthy contact with the object of fear.
Alarming fear occurs when you sense some threat or danger in a place, person, or thing. The idea is not to stop you, but to make you very careful in your undertakings. The idea is to dissuade you from pursuing a wrong direction. It makes you ask yourself, “Am I going to proceed or abort?”
If it is for a good cause (like self-preservation), and you proceed, you do it with utmost caution. If you abort, you delay your plans for a more opportune time. You do not give up. You wait for a more favorable time and condition.
If some misunderstandings or petty quarrels stand between two sweethearts, alarming fear starts to set in. This fear is not to keep them away, but to check their ways and attitudes toward each other. If a pupil fails to do his homework, his teacher will employ disciplinary measures. If he gets low grades, his parents may issue some warnings accordingly. The pupil may begin to feel alarming fear and try to do better next time.
Alarming fear is not admiration or reverence. It is being aware that something is wrong. In another sense, it is recognizing that some kind of danger is lurking somewhere, and you have to be ready (like when you hear something go bump in the middle of the night). When you feel alarming fear, you prepare for the worst decidedly. You don’t freeze, but you become more alert. You may decide to detour to delay confronting the danger now. Then you think of measures to improve yourself in case the danger surfaces again. You don’t let the danger confine you to a prison or limitation. You keep yourself in control. You are not afraid; you just want to be safe and secure.
When alarming fear is not dealt with, this fear may grow within you, and may soon overwhelm you.
When alarming fear seems to surround you, you must prepare yourself to overcome it. Try to talk yourself into facing the fear once it recurs. The moment you give in to fear and it becomes a habit, the tendency for cowardice begins to settle in. You lose the urge to overcome your fear. Instead, you simply accept the fear as your way of life. The fear then limits your freedom, and soon dictates what you can and cannot do. When fear dictates on you and makes you helpless, it becomes too alarming. Fear that gets too alarming tends to change your character negatively. It must be seriously dealt with.
Abused children who run away from abusive parents or teachers can indicate a sign of being afraid. A frustrated suitor may never want to have anything to do again with the girl who rejected his love because he is afraid of being humiliated. An employee who is guilty of an offense may just suddenly not report for work because he is afraid.
Debilitating fear is synonymous to being afraid. In simple words, it turns you into a coward. It makes you want to suddenly disappear from the situation at hand. Debilitating fear makes you give up in fighting the thing you’re afraid of. The thing, place, or person you are afraid of has become a tyrant punisher that you want to stay away from or easily give in to. You have become a prisoner of the danger.
When fear takes out the joy in you, it’s debilitating. You tend to be withdrawn, or you lose interest in whatever incites the fear. You avoid the subject matter, or show repulsive reaction when the thing, person, or place is brought out.
Debilitating fear must be dealt with soonest. When ignored or encouraged, it can lead to phobia. A child who has experienced burning his tongue with hot milk in his feeding bottle may become too alarmed by it. The mere sight of the feeding bottle with milk may give him chills in his bones. His health could be greatly affected by this, especially when he becomes hysterical each time he sees feeding bottles. Many children have phobia or irrational horror about injections. By just seeing women in white coat or overalls, they have tantrums. They think every woman in white dress is an injection-wielding nurse.
Taking remedies for debilitating fear at its initial stage is vital. The remedies for fears and phobias are discussed later.