Exploring the Fear Factor in Human Psychology

On my last Western Trek, I picked up Dr. Harriet Lerner’s book “The Dance of Fear” (2004) at the Edmonton airport. Finally, a book about my own presenting problem! A large part of my interest in mental health and healing is fueled by the fact that I have been afraid as long as I can remember.

I had enjoyed “The Dance of Anger” and “The Dance of Intimacy”, but they were generally old news to me. However, I discovered some unfamiliar steps in the latest dance book.

Doc Harriet, who tells some hair-raising stories about her own experiences, pulls no punches. “If you are alive, you have an anxiety disorder.” Fear is the price we pay for taking risks, trying new things, doing our own thinking. She offers techniques for fear management, but no magic bullet to prevent or eradicate it.

“Learning is finding. Finding is losing something else.” We are always afraid to let go of our delusions of safety. Fear protects us from self-destructive behavior, but it also turns our brains and bodies to mush when we most need to function at full capacity.

The only way to enlarge our comfort zone is to venture beyond it. That’s the human condition. When we share our fears with others, we connect with them and find untapped reserves of courage. When we hide our fears, we isolate ourselves.

Alone in a fortress of fear! Does hell get any worse than that?

The only way out is to take a deep breath, find a partner, and start dancing right in the middle of the scariest areas of our universe.