“Fear can prevent you from becoming great. It can discourage your efforts, diminish your dreams, destroy your trust and dismiss your aspirations.”
Dr John Ng
“F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ ”
The Dread of Fear
We are living in troubling times. Four out of ten Singaporeans cited ‘losing their jobs’ as their top fear in times of recession. In the US, ‘being unable to pay their mortgage or rent’ was Americans’ greatest fear.
The second biggest fear was being ‘unable to survive economically’. With rising costs and lowering income, the fear of our inability to pay for health care costs, education, etc. has now hit countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and European countries.
Fear is a normal human reaction to external threats and internal disequilibrium. It is triggered by your internal perspectives, which usually evoke an emotional response. There are many situations in which fear may come to you:
- Fear of the future. The future can be a very terrifying proposition. Parents worry themselves sick about their children’s education. Ordinary citizens are worried about safety and security with the incessant reporting of terrorist attacks.
Business owners are worried about survival with lowering profits rising cost, increasing competition, and poor business climate. Patients are worried about their prospects of recovery after undergoing major surgical procedures. Displaced people are worried about the threats of death. Refugees worry about their next meals. The future indeed looks bleak.
- Fear of losing. Your child not returning home on time despite your frantic calls. Your partner is acting suspiciously and seems more disconnected to you. Your teenage son is partying every night and indulging in unhealthy habits. You feel uneasy when your business partners spend more time with their other businesses than yours. Impending loss can trigger more fears in your heart.
- Fear triggered by failures. Failures, especially repeated failures, can be frightening. You fear your ability to raise good teenage children and they seem to be more and more rebellious. You feel numb with fear when you suffer anxiety attacks. Your failure to motivate your staff to do more can break you down. Your stock prices keep going down. Your investments meet with all kinds of obstacles. Your partnerships are on the brink of collapse. All these will make you question your own ability, talent, position, status and identity.
- Fear triggered by crisis. You feel terribly afraid when you or your loved one has been diagnosed with cancer. Your marriage is breaking down irretrievably. Your business collapse is days away. Your closest friendship has become destructive. You feel fear in a deep way. You have no end in sight, no light at the end of a very long dark tunnel.
If we have experienced similar situations, we know how fear can grip and paralyze us if left unmanaged. Worse still, if not managed properly, it will depress us and cause untold damage to our lives.
This was what happened to Karthik Rajaram, an out-of-work financial manager who killed himself and his family in an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles. Rajaram blamed his actions on economic hardships, seeing his finances wiped out by the stock market collapse. He said in his suicide note that he had two options — to kill just himself, or to kill himself and his family. He had decided the second was more honorable.
LA Police Department deputy chief Michel Moore was right on when he said:
this is a perfect American family that has absolutely been destroyed, apparently because of a man who just got stuck in a rabbit hole of absolute despair, somehow working his way into believing this to be an acceptable exit.
Fear can drive us to do the unthinkable and the horrific!
What are you most afraid of in your life and business?