The Voice Of Fear

Control


I need to be in control.

Why is that?

So I don't feel so out-of-control.

Why do you feel so out-of-control?

Huh?


 

When we try to control a situation, it is because we are afraid. This makes sense if the situation poses a real physical threat. But when the situation poses an emotional threat, our attempts to gain control only lead to us eventually losing control. The more we fear our emotions, the greater the fear becomes.

 

I read the following story in a newspaper and I know of no better way to illustrate my point: The story was about a man who had a fear of bridges. There was no reason for why he had this phobia, he just had it. He kept his fear a secret and made sure there were never any bridges to cross anywhere he went. On a road trip with a friend, he made sure to map the route to avoid any and all bridges. For most of the trip, he drove so as to further control the route but, at one point, he caught a bad cold and his friend offered to drive for a while. Secure in their route, he agreed and fell asleep. Traffic slowed because of an accident. Familiar with the area, the driver knew of a frontage road on the other side of the river that would take them around the traffic ahead. But to get to this road, they had to go over the river -- on a bridge.

 

The vibration of the tires on the bridge awoke the sleeping man. He sat up in his seat and realized that he was staring straight into the face of his worst nightmare. In a panic, he grabbed the wheel and attempted to turn the car around. The driver had no idea what was going on, so he tried to fight him off. The more the driver fought, the more frantic the passenger became. The tug-of-war continued until the passenger ended up steering the car through the guardrail and off the bridge.

 

Only the driver survived to tell the story.

 

So, was it the bridge that killed the bridge-phobic man, or was it his irrational fear? In his attempt to gain control of a non-threatening situation, he ended up losing control and losing his life. 

 

The next story is the mirror opposite of the man and the bridge: An acquaintance of mine had a paralyzing fear of flying. He hated his fear because it was holding him back in his life but, try as he might, he could not get himself to board a plane. Then, when he had an opportunity to get a job that would require him to travel, he found the courage to face his fear. He checked into a hospital that specialized in phobias and over several months, conquered his fear of flying. He got the job and flew coast-to-coast many times without incident -- until one day, he was on a plane that crashed and he was killed.

 

Getting over your fear doesn't mean that whatever you fear could not still happen to you. It simply means that you are no longer controlled by what you fear. My acquaintance certainly did not want to die, but I am sure he enjoyed his life in a whole new way once he freed himself of his fear of flying.

 

Most of us fly. We all know planes crash. Most of us drive and we know cars crash. There is nothing you are going to do today that hasn't caused someone's death at some point. But does that stop you? We get no guarantees in life. Control your fear or be controlled by it. So, ask yourself this one question: Would you rather be the man on the bridge or the man on the plane?


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