Most people fear the unknown, whether it be real or a figment of their imagination. But the more you get exposed to this fear and the unknown, the more you get accustomed to the surroundings and the fear goes away and the unknown becomes the known. Effectively taking the power away from fear.
FEAR: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
ACCLIMATION: to accustom or become accustomed to a new climate or environment; adapt.
Repetitive exposure to the offending object or situation will accustom the individual to it and the fear will gradually subside.
Fear is inborn into humans, it is what protects us from the dangers of the environment and predators. It is an evolutionary trait that gets passed down from generation to generation and keeps us alive. In modern human industrialized nations there are no natural predators and not too much that can kill us like in the distant past. Of course this fact is different in under developed nations, but let us take America and most of the Western European nations for an example. For the most part you just have to worry about your health, becoming the victim of a crime in certain areas, traffic and recreational accidents. Many of the dangers of death are self inflicted: drugs, alcohol, poor diet or participating in dangerous activities such as sky diving or skiing.
Some fears are retained in modern man that came from our neanderthal days: fear of the dark, heights, bugs, snakes and people unfamiliar to us. The fear of heights is a natural inbred legitimate fear. There still exists a danger to humans of falling to our deaths, especially in a city with high rise buildings, windows or cliffs.
The fear of the dark stems from the fear of the unknown, you do not know what is there if you cannot see. Sight is the most prominent sense that humans rely on. In the dark there could be a poisonous bug, a venomous snake, an unseen rapist, or the fear that modern man created, a ghost.
THE DARK: How do we, as a fearful human, combat some of these fears? By getting accustomed to it of course. For an example, if you are afraid of the dark and need to keep unnecessary lights on at night when you are trying to sleep, you need to realize that for the most part there is NOTHING to fear. Go into a room and make sure it is well lit, examine all corners of the room, look in the closet and make sure there are no people, monsters, bugs, snakes or purple people eaters in there. Leave the room and come back 20 minutes later and search the room again. Once you verify that it is safe, leave the room once again for a few minutes and then return, but this time do not turn the light on, go into the room and sit down on a chair or a bed in complete darkness. Repeat these steps several times until you become accustomed to the dark and realize that there is nothing to fear in your safe home.
HEIGHTS: Another common fear that is widespread in humans and can be a legitimate fear is heights. Some common fears can be: being afraid to go over bridges, going on top of tall buildings or sitting on top of a stopped ferris wheel. All the mentioned examples do provide the real danger of falling, but for the most part there are safety measures put into place to prevent accidents. So how can one get over the fear of heights? Once again you must face the fear head on and become accustomed to it, after repeatedly being exposed to this fear it will diminish. Go to the rooftop of a tall building (or bridge with a foot path), obviously make sure it is a building that you can legally go on and has proper fencing or safety features. Bring a friend that is NOT afraid of heights to look over the area for you and to confirm that it is safe. Gradually get closer to the edge (with a safe fence or barrier to protect you) until you can look down at the ground below and see there is nothing to be scared of. Repeat this process for how ever long it takes you to get accustomed to the fear and it eventually will go away.
THE UNKNOWN: An additional fear is of the unknown, many people do not act upon something just because they fear what may happen if they do. But I ask you this, do you not fear what may happen if you don’t? A common example could be public speaking, when in front of a crowd you may stutter, stammer or forget what you are supposed to be saying. This also is a legitimate fear since the people in the audience may be judging you based on the how’s and what you are saying. But as with anything, the more you do it, the more you will feel comfortable in front of the crowd and the better that you will do.
HORROR MOVIES: A man made fear that obviously has no real physical harm would be a fear of horror movie. Usually when we are young we are fearful of scary imagery that is featured in horror movies and they seem to come back and haunt us at the most inappropriate times; in the dark at bedtime, when we are home alone, or on that walk back from the store in the darkness of night. Obviously as an adult we know that Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers do not really exist, so what makes this fear surface in us when we are alone or in the dark? First you have the fact that at a young age you are unaccustomed to the “horror” presented in these movies, then you have the secondary fears surfacing, such as the setting of darkness, being alone and fear of the unknown. Combine all of these elements together and you can see how a young mind can become scared.
ACCLIMATION: As time goes on you naturally realize that Jason Voorhees is just a character is a string of Hollywood movies, that there is not a person or a demon hiding in the darkness under your bed and that there is nothing to fear in your closet. As you are exposed to the Jason character it loses its effectiveness, once you realize that nothing hides in that dark room you lose your fear simply because you are familiar with it and are becoming acclimated with it.
BOTTOM LINE: Repeatedly exposing yourself to said fear, will diminish its power over you.
Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at [email protected]