Global Express
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Holistic Environment: INSIGHT OUT


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It is a strange paradox that fear, a survival sense, can be a handicap. Often we feel frightened in situations where it is totally unjustified. It puts limits on what we can do and be; it forms a barrier to our growth. The situation I have in mind is meeting new people - at a new school, university or job. Why do we feel frightened? The unknown. We fear being judged or labelled and are affected by what we believe others think of us. We also fear loneliness because it makes us feel vulnerable. The best way to transcend fear is by learning our own worth. Even when fears are justified, it is much less frightening when you value yourself.

Katherine Roucoux, UK

Someone in America said to me, 'Whatever you fear, draw near. It will probably disappear.' The pain and violence in Los Angeles did not disappear. But wherever I've been, I know the moment I walk through my fear, a love for people comes as a gift which grows. What happens when you are confronted by someone's anger, blame or hatred? Fear is my first response. Then comes a surge of self-righteousness, as a defence. I have learnt that self-righteousness is the other side of hate - saying the problem is with someone else. These two attitudes feed on each other, and cause deep wounds. Kim Beazley, for many years a respected politician in Australia, told me that after 30 years in Politics he was convinced, 'the key to social advance is the question of motive'. In other words, the right policies only work as fear, ambition and hatred are faced and replaced with compassion, love of justice and integrity.

Mike Brown, Australia

Fear breeds judgment. So before you judge, think. With every person you meet or situation you come across, say to yourself: 'This thought of mine is not revealing the full reality'. If it was, you would be able to let it go. We hold onto prejudices. Einstein said, 'It is easier to split an atom than a prejudice...' We need to realise just how different everyone's reality is. Until we stop and really listen to people, we cannot assess, judge or act on what we perceive to be right - for it may not be.

Elspeth Herring, Australia

Yupp! We can run but we can't hide. The big scary monsters under the bed may have changed but they are still there. Everyone has secret fears...of growing old, of spiders, of going to see the dentist, of being forced to conform, of never being truly loved. Fear is one of the fundamental emotions. It sends the adrenalin whizzing through our veins and awakens the instinct for survival. Humans and Apes alike react the same way: we run, fight or freeze. Fear can debilitate or it can invigorate and enliven. At the centre of our fear lies pain. The prospect of physical, emotional and spiritual pain fills us with dread. So we try to avoid the risk of pain. Virtually all our unhappy relationships are dominated by fear. We are afraid the other will place emotional demands on us we can't fulfil. In our fear-ridden state we fail to make an important distinction between being hurt and being damaged. Life is difficult and pain is unavoidable. In fact, getting hurt and being healed teaches us the lessons of life. When we are damaged, the healing process takes longer and we are left with permanent scars. When fear discourages us from taking the risk of being damaged, it provides us with protection. But if it discourages us from taking the risk of being hurt then it is suffocating and restrictive. Knowing the difference is something we all have to learn! Unless we are prepared to face the reality of pain, we will never learn the joy of vulnerability. To be vulnerable is not to be weak or passive. It is to walk with an open heart and to love even though we may be hurt. It is to take risks for the joy of living. It is to always be afraid, but never controlled by fear.

Janet Gunning, New Zealand/UK

'I forgot.' Remember how your parents could not understand how you forgot such a simple task? If you are like me, you make excuses. We fear expectations. The larger the expectation, the larger the fear. With a large task, like a romantic dinner, there is a high expectation and a large fear of disappointment. We fear the expectations of our family, friends and society. The irony is, we place the same expectations on others. Why?

Paul Shrowder, Australia

Fear is something I first learnt about at school and then as a result of three crashes as a pilot during the war. Strangely it was the school experience that had the most effect. Driven by fear, I bought my way out of a fight with the school bully. Recently I have faced a fresh test as a result of being clinically dead for 16 seconds. I was convinced God had saved my life during the war and that yet again He had helped me survive a heart attack and surgery. But I felt anew the need to seek freedom from fear. The release from fear and the turning to faith seems to be a decision we need to make and remake 'from the cradle to the grave.'

Jim Coulter, Australia

Four years ago, an East European friend said: 'You may have high ideals but are you prepared to put your career on the line for them?' That gave me a jolt. Fresh from University I had high-paying career options in front of me. I felt strongly about my beliefs but was I prepared to set aside my ambitions? Immediately fear struck - with good arguments. 'Get real, there is no money in idealism. You'll become dependent on others and alienate your family and friends. What do you imagine you'll achieve?' For weeks I was stuck. Moving forwards meant flying in the face of fear, moving backwards felt like defeat. My parents and friends thought I had lost all common s by not pursuing my career. When they asked me what I was g with my life, I would seize up. At the core of my fear was the urge for security - both financial and social. With this understanding, I decided to trust my inner sense. In that moment of freedom, I saw exactly what I felt God wanted of me - voluntary work in areas of conflict. Straight away the fears got on top of me again. But now it was clear that I had a choice: faith or fear. Fears would always be part of me, but I didn't have to let them run my life. In fact, they could be turned into stimulating guides, showing me possible pitfalls and sharpening my senses. Today, I am still following an unorthodox career path, still living with financial insecurity, still battling fear but above all still trying to be true to my beliefs and ideals.

Jeroen Gunning, The Netherlands/England

Last update: 2000-02-12 17:20:20 (EEST).
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