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Reflections on Fear and Preparedness

By Denis Korn

This is the first in a series of posts on fear and its influence on emergency preparedness planning, actions and being self-reliant.  The purpose of these posts is not to give you some magic formula on how to live without fear.  I simply wish to point out some insights for your reflection.  It is my belief that understanding the affect of fear on one’s attitude and actions before – during – and after a disaster or catastrophe is essential to right action, peace of mind and survival.

Fear is natural and instinctive – it has a purpose for our life.  The issue at hand is: Can we control it and use it to our advantage?  Can it so overwhelm us as to be an obstacle to proper action? Can we understand its influence on our behavior?  Can we discern when it is appropriate or detrimental?

Fear can be valuable tool and assist the planning process – or it can adversely affect the decision making and evaluation process causing one to act and think ineffectively and inappropriately – it can also prevent us from acting at all.

I have recently read articles that deal with the uncertainty and anxiety of the times, and specifically address this last point.  Many people are so afraid of the truth or reality of a situation and what responsible action or attitude would be required of them, that being in denial is preferred to being enlightened.

Definitions

While most of us have a pretty good idea of what fear is, here are some definitions and synonyms relating to this post for reference:

–noun

1.  A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

2.  A specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling

3.  Concern or anxiety; solicitude

4.  That which causes a feeling of being afraid; that of which a person is afraid

—Synonyms
1.  Apprehension, consternation, dismay, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation. Fear, alarm, dread all imply a painful emotion experienced when one is confronted by threatening danger or evil. Alarm implies an agitation of the feelings caused by awakening to imminent danger; it names a feeling of fright or panic: He started up in alarm. Fear and dread usually refer more to a condition or state than to an event. Fear is often applied to an attitude toward something, which, when experienced, will cause the sensation of fright: fear of falling. Dread suggests anticipation of something, usually a particular event, which, when experienced, will be disagreeable rather than frightening: She lives in dread of losing her money.  The same is often true of fear, when used in a negative statement: She has no fear she’ll lose her money.

Attitude

For those of you who have read other posts and articles I have written, you know that I consider one’s attitude as an essential factor in both the preparedness planning process and during the emergency or disaster that could possibly occur.  I highly recommend you read my post on attitude and that you be inspired and educated by the insights and experiences of Viktor Frankl in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” that I mention in that article.

I realize how difficult it can be to address and examine one’s fears – especially in light of the suspicions, apprehension, insecurity, and dread so prevalent today.  We deal not only with the anxiety concerning real and potential negative events and the economy, but also with a media obsessed and consumed with the need to promote fear at every opportunity – and when there isn’t a problem, their agenda requires that they create one for you.  Yet as distressing and challenging as it may be, introspection and reflection on your thoughts and feelings can provide an opportunity to overcome the crippling effects of inaction caused by irrational fear.

Honestly confronting your fear in non-judgmental reflection and without allowing it to overwhelm and disable you is the first step to right action, peace of mind and survival.  This takes time and commitment.  Surround yourself with loving and supportive people.

Questions to consider:

What are your specific fears?

What are your worst fears?

Why?

What would happen if the circumstances you fear should occur?

Why do you fear that outcome?

Is there anything valuable to learn if that outcome happens?

(Can you make lemonade from lemons?)

Is there another emotion that can be substituted for fear?

What are the positive implications should your fears come to pass?

What do you fear losing?

What is your attachment to the material issues surrounding your fears?

Do you have friends and family available to help you examine your fears?

Can you acknowledge that you are fearful and still move forward?

Can you transform a fearful thought into a positive thought?

Can you focus on constructive thoughts and not dwell on fearful or negative thoughts?

Do you want to control your attitude?

What is it about a fearful or negative attitude that makes you feel in control or secure?

Can you see in yourself the inappropriate fear that takes over because of conditioning and unconscious patterns?

Have you considered using affirmations and positive thinking to help combat fear?

How do you reconcile the  fear that is felt when discerning the issues surrounding us all – the lack of leadership, the death of common sense, selfishness, corporate greed, hatred, immorality, deceit, utter stupidity – and a media, educational system and entertainment industry obsessed with negativity, blame, self-righteousness and propaganda — with the importance of a positive and life-sustaining attitude that supports peace of mind, mental health and security for ourselves, family and community?

Fear and preparedness

In the 37 years that I have been involved with educating and supplying folks with preparedness information and products, I have been acutely aware of the methodologies used by those in this field.  Promote an attitude of fear or promote an attitude of empowerment.  Some think fear will empower – and with some people it might work.  I look at it differently.

The events that occur during a disaster or catastrophe are indeed overwhelming and devastating, and require a great deal of cooperation and discipline and maintaining focus and purpose.  I will say again – being motivated and guided by fear can work to your disadvantage.

In my opinion, an attitude of fear while preparing for and during trying times distorts the more important issues at hand and can negatively impact decision making, relationships and action.

Your thoughts will determine your perceptions, emotions and actions.

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