What is it you are afraid of? Your surroundings? Your government? Are you afraid to be yourself? If you answer yes to any of those questions, do you ask yourself why that is? I have written a few pieces on fear, covered in Sensing fear, but wanted to look at the words behind it, and how we use them to express what we think it is that we are feeling. And how others then see may perceive that differently.
Afraid – “feeling fear or anxiety; frightened”.
Are you hesitant, apprehensive, scared? We have many words for this, but with those words also comes different meaning – which can be interpreted differently by people. As we know. Anxiety is also put in there, which seems to be a bit thing these days, and to be honest, I get it, there is much to be anxious about, and not entirely by accident I feel. Because we humans are prone to feelings, and we have internal alarm systems that not everyone is aware of, or have not quite harnessed yet. Triggers to tell you something is wrong, feelings to alert you to possible dangers or just to keep a look out. Surely that’s normal? So, at what point is it deemed not normal? Enough so to whip out a prescription book and make sure those feelings are numbed, or suppressed, or removed altogether. We know that prescription drugs can have all sorts of side effects, covered in An error, but a big one, but further to that, I wonder if by turning off or supressing the natural instinct and workings, that in itself could create a type of anxiety or at least an internal reaction. Like driving at night and the lights on the car start to get dimmer and dimmer, and then stop working. But the car still runs, and you have to keep driving, but whereas with light and seeing where you are going, it was easy. Suddenly, it’s dark and perilous, doesn’t feel safe, so your heart level goes up, you start sweating, your breathing shallows to cope with the extra concentration needed to just drive. And you don’t know how long the road is, if it will get light again, or if you could steer off into a river, or a cliff at any moment. So, you grip the steering wheel, so tightly you think your fingers will break and you might stop breathing just from the overwhelming sense of dread. Unfortunately, that can describe either being dulled out of life by drugs, or simply just by life itself, anxiety can be caused by life, and by not experiencing life. It’s tough, and definition of words, their meanings, and what follows on from that is important too.
Phobia – “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something”
Now this is quite puzzling to me to have two different meanings within that definition, which is where I believe we get confused when people say that can’t be a phobia, because there is no irrational fear, just dislike. Meaning they, as I, didn’t fully understand there was a double meaning going on there.
Aversion – “a strong dislike or disinclination”
Disinclination – “a reluctance or lack of enthusiasm.”
Strange isn’t it to have such different meanings when it would seem clear cut, phobia to me should mean irrational fear, aversion should mean strong dislike. Even disinclination means two things, being reluctant, or lacking enthusiasm. And again, those two can come from very different places within someone’s mindset or thought process. Reluctant being more hesitant, and lacking enthusiasm to me meaning can’t be bothered, or isn’t motivated towards it. So, when we think we understand what we are saying when we use those words, and what others are saying, may indeed be quite different. Which is why being able to effectively communicate what you think, and understanding what it means it important. Because when you believe you are saying one thing, using the correct and clear words, someone else may be hearing something else entirely.
An Alan Greenspan quote springs to mind on this
“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant“
So, can you perhaps see why it can be very easy to miscommunicate with someone, unless you are taking the time to understand as well as convey your own thoughts and feelings. Many suffer from impatience when it comes to others talking, and I wonder sometimes if it is because they are not paying attention and would rather be somewhere else, are perhaps not fully understanding the conversation, or could be they are just plain rude. It’s tricky working out which one it is sometimes without just coming out and asking, so I do ask, because if I am taking the time to talk to someone, I do not want my time wasted, or theirs, so it needs to be a beneficial exchange.
And recently, words have been weaponized and redefined, making it even harder for some people to communicate without being able to navigate the way in which they are supposed to talk and think according to society at the time. This is why I wonder if there are more people who are afraid to be themselves than we realise, fearing the repercussions of having their own opinion, own ideas, own perspective, own identity, because it will be shouted down, ridiculed or persecuted. So, maybe it seems easier to just follow the crowd, be seen as a parrot, or be ‘sheep’ as people often call the masses, as they can just get on and get by, without too much fuss. Don’t rock the boat as they say. But what if you are sat in someone else’s boat, and you don’t want to be there? You can see your boat just over there, waiting for you to take you on your adventure, yet here you are stuck in someone else’s, being talked at, told what to do, with no end in sight, and for no good reason. Suddenly the saying don’t rock the boat doesn’t seem so applicable does it, because with that thinking, you’ll never get to your boat, if you get my meaning. And when people say things like, we are all in the same boat, I often think what a clever way to get people instantly ‘on board’, you see, they have other words to make the metaphor even more meaningful. Yet, I still saw thought it and realised that it was their boat, and their direction, meaning you are only a shipmate and being taken along for a ride. You can never be the captain of someone else’s ship, remember that. And when it comes to being afraid, I get it, it can be daunting to be at the helm of your own life, being the centre piece, the lead role and the director and the writer, all the time. And I understand why people sometimes might want to be an extra, or a bit part, or behind the scenes and not have or take any responsibility. But I also understand that some people who relish the leading role, will want their own extras, locations, props and people to run around helping to make them the star in their own life, which is where it can become destructive, if ‘the extra’ to their life isn’t aware that’s what they are.
So, while we are trying to work everything out and get through life, we are also being constantly bombarded by things to trigger our senses, and often we are not allowed, or are restricted from indulging them or acting upon them. We have influences put upon us from day one, and it is nurtured carefully thereafter, with systems, repetition, conditioning and modifications, to have people doing what is expected of them. And if they look like they might be wanting to be independent, another round of medications, another dose of fear and regulations, knowing the triggers have been placed for whatever their choice at that time, having already laid the groundwork through media, education and entertainment. But that only works if it works when needed, the best-laid plans of mice and men and all that…