God-Given Fear

Fear is what we should feel when our physical or psychological safety is threatened. It is for our protection and part of our survival instinct. Even animals have that natural tendency or they would all be road kill. We are born with some natural instincts, but knowing what and when to fear and what not to fear is part of our development. A child learns to have a healthy respect for heights after falling from stools and chairs. Getting burned by a stove or from a flame teaches us to stay away from intense heat.

Suppose a two year old child is playing in the back yard and a harmless garden snake slithers through the grass. The child would probably be curious and pick it up if they had no previous knowledge or instruction about snakes. What do you think the average mother would do if she saw her child do that? She would probably freak out. What would an experienced snake handler do? He, like the child, would have no fear at all. Fear responses are conditioned by our learning experiences. Bondage to fear comes from false or little knowledge, while truth liberates.

Experience is a good teacher, but we don’t always learn well. Remember, we are not shaped by our environment, but rather by our perception of the environment. Suppose the above child had seen a movie where poisonous snakes had bitten people and they died. The child would likely conclude that snakes kill people, which some can, but most don’t. Believing that all snakes are poisonous is an irrational fear or phobia. How could you help people who are afraid of anything that slithers? You could teach them the truth about snakes. Help them distinguish between a harmless snake and ones that need to be avoided. That could be done in a class room, but that alone would not eliminate fears for most people.

Since phobias are irrational fears there is something we are believing that is not true. That cannot be resolved until the lie is exposed and the truth is acknowledged. You can see how the father of lies could be source for many irrational fears. However, to completely overcome the fear of harmless snakes you would have to pick one up. Do the thing that you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.

Dr. Neil

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