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I am not the first one who’s wondered if most of the mankind’s misery and machinations have fear at their base.*  At first glance it looks like greed drives us the most to do what we do, but look beyond the greed and you find insecurity. Most of insecurity is based on fear – fear of starvation; fear of loss; fear of the unknown; fear of the other. And most of fear – located at the ninth level as it were – is the fear of death.  Why do people fear death? Because they realize (more unconscious than not) their lives are mere parodies of what living should be. They long to quit that nasty job/marriage/town and channel Auntie Mame and live, live, LIVE!  Alas it takes courage, insight, and self-restraint to transform this way. People are also haunted by vanity viz. ‘what would THEY think” if they scuttled something so long invested? There is also some sense of Time running out and it isn’t worth changing.

Everyone knows the universal approach to the fear of death viz. hopes and beliefs of an afterlife. This often makes Life not much of an amusement park as a mere waiting room in which to keep quiet lest your number is suddenly called and you are caught with your shoes off and feet up on the community coffee table.

I think if we all lived a certain length of time, say 80 years, we would be less prone to fear of upsetting the status quo. We might kvetch 80 years of life is too short but what there is would be less fearful in my opinion. I see this in patients with terminal illness. They are far more likely than others to say “F-ck it” to the rubbish in their lives and get going on their bucket lists for knowing the amount of grains of sand left in their hourglasses.**

We are hardwired to be fearful. Our ancestors survived to make us because they backed off from strange unfamiliar things rather than running towards them curious to get a closer look at that cute looking saber-toothed tiger. Happily there are no more saber-toothed tigers but our monkey brains won’t buy it.  Nearly everything outside our comfort zone is deemed the equivalent of Attack of Triffids. It is not possible to have no fear (thems who say otherwise are liars or not to be trusted). I try to get my patients  forget ‘no fear’ but to master it. Fear (anxiety) makes a good servant but a lousy master. Most of time if they can stop ourselves from doing a 180 when facing Fear and stop to deal with it we would be better off.  Some of us may be have the courage to realize we are dying and go live Life more fully.

 

 

*Not all. Sometimes I think people are nasty simply because they are. I remember a long drawn out discussion in a history class about why the Athenians created an empire in contrary to their democratic principles. After a long-winded process someone raised his hand (oh the embarrassment!) and said ‘Because they could, that’s why”.

**Oh, that’s lovely!

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