Fear Factor

Published 12:54 am Wednesday, September 6, 2006

It must be amazing to live a life without fear. To take on adventures that most of us just would rather watch on television rather than participate. It is amazing to live this life to its fullest. The dare devils of the world are junkies for dangerous on the edge living. It sounds exciting!

I can’t relate. I wish I could.

It is sad when we live a life of fear. Practically scared of our own shadow. Yet many people around us are afraid of germs, flying, water, and or leaving home.

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Steve Irwin was not afraid of anything and finally died living the life he loved and killed by one of the creatures he loved. Steve may not have lived to be old, but he crammed in a whole lot of living in his 44 years. I think we all who have watched him instantly fell in love with his zest, his enthusiasm and his over the top approach. We need more Crocodile Hunters.

Living without fear, sounds good to me. This past weekend I flew to New Mexico. I am not a good flyer. I have the head knowledge and understanding that it is more dangerous for me to drive to New Orleans than fly out of it. But, who said fear makes any sense?

Why do we have fear? For good reasons. It is a protective mechanism built in to our brain.

There is a purpose for fear when it keeps us safe. The Crocodile Hunter had no fear of his animals, but he also had a great knowledge of what he was doing. Just like an engineer who designs a rollercoaster ride understands the science of how the thing works and he has no fear.

Not those who have the phobia driven life. Irrational fears….what can you do? In some cases, those phobias can be corrected by slowly building up your confidence by having small successes in dealing with the threat. But, in general, it is very difficult to overcome any irrational fears.

I found 530 phobias on one such phobia list with things that are normal fears such as snakes and spiders. Arachnephobia or Arachnophobia- Fear of spiders. Got that one. Just watch me walk through a spider web and see me bust a move, or what some would call, spastic dancing.

Some phobias are: Agrizoophobia- Fear of wild animals. (No Steve Irwin here!) Ataxophobia- Fear of disorder or untidiness. (I wishing this one on my children, but so far it is not working. Maybe if I could arrange for a dirty towel to jump out at them and say boo!)

A popular phobia that I seem to suffer from is Aviophobia or Aviatophobia- Fear of flying.

With just the normal fear of heights and add a mix of terrorism and pilot mistakes, many normal human beings are a little apprehensive about air travel. Then you add the fact that I had to go see Snakes on a Plane at the movies two weeks before I had to fly and boy was I apprehensive. I am afraid of snakes too! Why not just add spiders too?

Another phobia that my mom suffers from is….Batrachophobia- Fear of amphibians, such as frogs, newts, salamanders, etc. She has been trapped because of a frog and had to call for help.

There are some strange fears too such as Caligynephobia- Fear of beautiful women. Find me a man that has this fear and I will give you a million dollars (monopoly money of course). Yet, I can practically point out most women are afraid of beautiful women. They make us afraid of our own shortcomings. Yet, a beautiful woman is an amazing sight and who doesn’t like to look at what God can do.

Another irrational phobia is Chaetophobia- Fear of hair. This is a problem I have….I am afraid of my hair every day of my life….bad hair….but do bald men have this phobia? Does my brother have this fear since he keeps a shaven head? By the way, for any who know him, Coach Weems at PRC, he has beautiful hair and I have the pictures if anyone is interested.

Chrematophobia- Fear of money. Oh, my! I suffer from the fear of ‘NO’ money!

Coulrophobia- Fear of clowns. Strange that something that is supposed to make us laugh can scare us, but I have a bit of this phobia. Some clowns are really scary. Spielburg knew this because in his classic movie, Poltergeist, he made sure to feed our fear of clowns. The little boy in his bedroom had a clown and during a dark, stormy night, well, let’s say it was really scary. To this day, my boys do not have a clown doll.

Decidophobia- Fear of making decisions. I must have this one too, because every time my husband wants me to make a decision, like where to eat out….I cannot make a decision. I am accused of this problem all the time. So, add this to my ever growing list of phobias.

Didaskaleinophobia- Fear of going to school. Which is what happens when someone forgot to do their homework, or study for a test.

Doxophobia- Fear of expressing opinions or of receiving praise. Check this one off my list!!

Dutchphobia- Fear of the Dutch. Now this is just weird. I have a close Dutch turned American friend and she is not to be feared. Maybe the phobia is about people afraid of going Dutch…paying for their fair share of the meal?

Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers. We should all be afraid of teenagers. Especially when they get their driver’s license. ‘Nough said.

Gerascophobia- Fear of growing old. All Americans have this one; just look how much we spend on plastic surgery, Botox and skin creams that will hide the wrinkles.

Kymophobia- Fear of waves. Got this one too, ever since that big one wiped me out in Hawaii. Now, when I have bad dreams they involve giant waves crashing in on me and I am on a small island…yikes. For our coastal friends, we should change it to Katrianaphobia. When we are threatened again, we should see a mass exodus of panic Katrinaphobiates.

Enough of the phobias, because after looking at this list I now see that I have way too many. I wish I had a fear of phobias, then I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.

How can we overcome all this fear? How can we live a full life not looking over our shoulder?

To overcome a phobia, you have to have small successes. I took four airplane flights this past weekend. By the fourth, I was sleeping because I had become use to the noises and feelings of the plane and more relaxed because so far nothing had given me a reason to fear (that and the Dramamine I had to take, because no matter how brave I can be, my stomach has its own issues!!).

I overcame my fear. I was motivated to fly and to travel. I am proud of myself. It was hard at first. I have been flying for over twenty years and nothing has ever given me course to be so afraid. But, I will not let this fear stop me from flying. It may take drugs and a sick stomach, but I will continue. When you complete what you perceive as a dangerous task, you feel great about your achievement and about yourself. This is how you overcome your fear.

Plus, it helps that you have a peace about what happens in case of the worse case scenario. I put my trust in my God, no matter what. My life is not in my hands anyway. When it is your time to leave this earth, nothing will change that….of course we all know that one about what if it’s the pilot’s time?

Just like Steve, I want to live as full a life as I can. I won’t be skydiving soon, but I won’t be sitting at home either. After reading an article about the dangers in your own home, we all should be getting out of our houses. Let’s start having a homeaphobia epidemic.

I am sad about the Crocodile Hunter, and for all the kids who adored him, including my own. The world will mourn the loss and most of us will still keep our fear of snakes. We will watch the old clips of him holding a venomous snake as it strikes at him, all while he explains why we should not be afraid of it.

Knowledge is a good tool to overcome fear. Irrational or not, fear is a real intense emotion and we must try to overcome it and not teach it to our children. Sometimes you have to mask those fears so you won’t pass down that legacy.