Fear Series—When Fearlessness Turns To Anxiety

 

fearless

As we grow up and begin to mature, it becomes our life experiences that continue to build our character. The things we learn through our encounters, leave a lasting impression on us and contribute to our likes and dislikes, and suit us up for how we deal with life on a daily basis.

Often, if we haven’t endured devastating circumstances, we many not notice the simple progression of ourselves. We tend to be influenced by our surroundings, people in them and pent up stressors.

All these factors and so many more are part of the foundation for our living patterns, and are responsible for many of the fears we develop, whether we are conscious of them or not. We may not recognize that being chased by a dog at a young age can instill a fear of dogs afterwards, or how some wronged violation on our person can leave invisible scars, yet the emotional fears from that violation will always be present whether hidden or exposed until they can be dealt with. Everything in life leaves its invisible paper trail through our psyches and becomes a part of the way we think and feel.

It was merely only a few decades ago that I would have considered myself fearless. I was game for anything, sometimes perhaps too frivolous. I traveled on my own to foreign countries at a young age, but most of all, I’d drive anywhere, any time, alone, no matter how far.

I once worked in sales, on the road for a photo studio. This job entailed me driving to any particular, sometimes desolate place throughout the province of Ontario on a daily basis. Neither distance nor inclement weather stopped me. I often liked to drive over the Buffalo border to the United States, just to do some mindless shopping, at a moment’s notice. I didn’t need company or a navigation system, I just got in the car and went.

My independence was certainly acquired from becoming an adult at a very young age from the responsibilities I took on as a child. In many respects, it helped build my strength and determination. My unfounded fears from an uncertain childhood seemed to dissipate though, as I matured in a clichéd sort of way of “what didn’t kill me, made me stronger.”

As I look back at my brazen younger years, I can’t seem to figure out what the heck has happened to me in the last decade. Where has my fearlessness gone? Many times now in life when I think about how I used to react with great enthusiasm and spontaneity, I find that anxiety has replaced it. I’ve always analyzed my life since I was a child, and usually found a way to conquer my fears. But I’m finding as I get older, it seems that was easier to do when I was younger. Why is that? Do we know too much? Do we over-analyze and become more cautious? Have we seen too much bad? These are the questions I now ask myself when I try to understand why I am no longer fearless of some things.

I don’t like to just accept things. I like to know why and how they came to be. I want to know when I lost my carefree attitude and became a fearful driver. When did my fearlessness abandon me?

I often feel closed in now, claustrophobic on overly trafficked streets of the city. There are so many bad drivers it seems. I feel as though I can’t trust ‘the other guy’ who decides he wants to change lanes without looking, and that I will potentially be side-swiped. Green lights no longer mean ‘Go’ automatically, and red lights don’t necessarily make people stop, but speed up through them, well after they have turned red. My eyes don’t fancy the oncoming headlights at night, and I dare not ever leave my car without locking it. These are just some of the fears that now overshadow my once fearless attitude to just hopping in the car to destination anywhere.

Before I wrote this, I thought that I couldn’t figure out where my driving fear came from. But I think I’ve just answered my own question.

Have you any fears that have either subsided or increased as the years pass?

 

D.G. Kaye©April 2015

35 thoughts on “Fear Series—When Fearlessness Turns To Anxiety

  1. When my sister moved to the city she was anxious as a driver crossing bridges. I drove along with her as an encouragement. One day I found myself seizing up at the idea of driving over a bridge of which there are many in Jacksonville. Somehow her fear transferred to me. I had to work hard with breathing exercises to disabuse myself of the fear. I cannot live with such restriction. Face the fear, freedom is near, I say.

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    1. So true Marian! We have only to face our fears, or let them imprison us within ourselves. Fear is also very contagious. And it seems that you and I use similar tactics (breathing) to overcome. Thanks for this lovely share. ❤

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  2. Your post shows us the power of writing, Deb, as you worked through your questions while writing your words published today, wow! That’s illustrating a point ❤ I have had many fears subside over the past 5 years, including the fear of writing a book. I am proud to know you!

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    1. I am over joyed by the circle of friends I have here, and for the comments and uplifting I receive from you all. We all have so much to take from one another. A powerful gift.
      We all have fears Christy. Some of us choose not to acknowledge them and let them fester within us. We conquer by admitting and by seeking a way to overcome in a way which makes us more comfortable, and better for releasing them.
      Many don’t realize how much courage and stamina it takes to create, then publish a book. You are not alone in that thought, and you are not alone here in our circle of writing friends. ❤ xo

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  3. I could sure relate to this Debby. Your driving fears are completely rational. I’ve had them many years before now, and I find I fear driving terribly. I don’t like being fearful. I’ve felt guilty for becoming afraid of things–I was much more dare-devilish when I was younger. But now, I wonder myself. Is it because as we get older we don’t take life so for granted? We know (for real) our days are numbered. We want to be cautious. I don’t want to call myself a scaredy-cat anymore. I call it taking care of me the best I can. If someone runs over me it’s gonna be their damn fault! (hugs!!)

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    1. Mandy, I love your response. It’s exactly how I feel now. I also can’t help but wonder if it’s our age that begins to caution us. Your words are wise; we don’t want to be afraid of everything, we just have to take the best precautions we can to limit the odds of dangerous activities. We can’t coil up in a ball and hide from things or that just wouldn’t be living, so we have to keep on fighting our fears. ❤

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      1. I feel like (compared to many of your commenters) my response was a “run for the hills–this is just what happens when you get older!” My fear of driving has prevented me from doing hundreds of things, and only added to my isolation. But the day came, after decades of fighting it, that I accepted that my world would be little smaller. I became a walker, and I walk to the store, the library, etc. And my reward? They’ve just announced they are building a beautiful new shopping center just up the street from me–small, but with my favorite one-stop shopping store as its anchor, and then several nice restaurants, etc. My world feels a whole lot bigger now and all I really need from day to day. Still, thanks for your honesty and encouragement, Debby. It’s nice we can all “lay it out there” truthfully. ❤

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      2. Mandy, I’m so glad that you once again feel that your world is expanding. I know the feeling of isolation, especially before I moved to where I’m living now. I lived in the north part of the city which became an hour’s drive to anywhere, and everywhere else that my family and friends lived. I hardly got to visit any of them because I refused the long drive home, especially at night and on the highway. I still struggle with my anxiety but am determined not to let it overtake me. I am living in the city once again after two decades and have been forcing myself to get out more and visit with the now ten minute drives to everyone. It still frightens me, but no highways and no night driving, but I am adamant about regaining some sense of my independence.
        Your response is sharing how you feel. Everyone has their own methods of dealing with their fears. It seems you have reached a place of content.
        Thanks again for sharing. ❤

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  4. Anxiety is an old fellow of mine as well… As far as we learn to deal with it , it can even makes us stronger… It is the process of dealing what is tough though…
    All the best to you dear DG. Aquileana 😀

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    1. Beautifully said Aq. Like I just responded to Mandy, we must tough out our fears so they don’t get the best of us and limit our pleasures in life. Hugs to you my friend. xo 🙂

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  5. Oh, yes! I resonate totally. May I have your answer please? You left that part off! 🙂
    My fear has grown steadily over the years to the point where I couldn’t leave the house for a year. It was a period of time that provided me with a “dark night of the soul” in spades. I wrestled mightily with my fears and the answers are still coming. I still have way more caution in my lexicon than I used to. I’ve come to understand fear as an impetus for change. It’s not always feel the fear and do it anyway. It’s often instead, why waste your energy jumping off buildings when there’s so much to be experienced right here, right now in this place. As long as we’re answering the call of our heart, daring to venture somewhere, even if it’s from our armchair, we are living, changing and growing.

    Our world has become a frightening place, and sadly we have fewer tools to cope. I believe we are being driven to our knees for a reason, and this reason is unfolding as we speak.

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    1. HI Dorothy. You offer wisdom here. You ask for my answer, but I don’t feel there is always one answer.

      What I replied to some of my readers here is that we have a choice to summon our courage and try to logically overcome our anxieties, or we succumb to them and surrender pieces of ourselves from doing all the things we enjoy; even if that means giving up going somewhere we look forward to because we don’t want to drive there.

      We all have our limitations as to how far we can go, and certainly as we age I believe our bravery wanes. And sadly Dorothy, I have to agree with your last paragraph. God definitely has a plan for all he sees and does not approve.
      Thank you so much for your thoughts. 🙂

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  6. Obviously we all can relate, D. I think it’s remarkable how unthinking we are – esp in our youth – and about things “everyone else” does. Easy to follow the masses. It’s terrifying if I stop to consider the infinite permutations of problems that might await on the freeway or anywhere I am behind the wheel. I’ve mentioned on the board that some careless driver can wipe out my family or leave me a widow in less time than it takes to order take-out. (Sorry I just spiked the fears. LOL.) It’s a call to balance and wisdom in all things. Being careful and sober, in control of our faculties, senses, and aware while not being enslaved to fear and things that have not happened.

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    1. Yes Diana, youth certainly is a time of a bit of ignorant bliss. I hear what you say, it only takes a split second to rock our world. And so I write that yes, the years do caution us to weigh out the pros and cons a bit more in depth. You have put it quite succinct here – care, sober, in control, yet let us not be in fear of things that have not happened.
      Thanks for leaving us here with your always wise words. ❤

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  7. Once upon a time I thought I needed God’s grace to get me through another day, but I have since come to the realization how much more I need Him today than I did yesterday! Thank you for sharing this post, Debby.

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  8. @”Have you any fears that have either subsided or increased as the years pass?” – frankly speakin’: I fear nothing and nobody… maybe kinda repulsion(abhorrence) for reptiles, but I’m not an exception to the rule! 😀 I can’t explain and can’t elaborate, but even though we live in “an anxiogenic world”, I’m not anxious or anguished… some say it’s a question of self-control and common sense… I’m not a fatalist gal either, just Darwinian-Cartesian, down-to-earth and hedonist… 🙂

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    1. I admire your strength and ability to remain uplifted from anxieties. And I’m also with you on reptiles and rodents. 🙂

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  9. I can so relate to this feeling… And like you when younger I guess I too was fearless, I would go jogging in the countryside by my self. Walking for miles off beaten tracks,, And in those days no mobile phones to let others know where you are.. We just never gave thought to danger or someone who had evil intentions..

    As a driver, I can also see why your anxiety is paramount in todays world of devil may care attitudes behind the wheel.. Some do not realise that they are in control of a lethal weapon on wheels.. And although I would not like to be driving upon the busy roads in your country.. I see enough bad habits of drivers here in the UK who make my hair stand on end as they dice with death as they jump lights..

    Near where I turn to go home is traffic lights, so many have been caught out in accidents as right turners who see the lights have gone to red expect the oncoming traffic to stop , Yet they still keep coming…

    Yes Deb I think you just answered your own question.. Its having to think! for every other driver on the road which makes driving no longer a joy.. but an anxious experience..

    Love and Light.. Enjoy your weekend.. Love Sue ❤

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    1. Thanks for sharing Sue. And yes, it certainly was a different world while we were growing up. I suppose that is why we are so much more aware of the changes than those growing up in it now.
      Happy weekend to you too my friend. ❤

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  10. Great piece article and got me thinking about where I am now…. I think accumulated exposure to the world’s woes 24/7 into our living rooms plays its part as does a recognition that physically we may not be as invincible we thought ourselves in our teens, 20s and 30s. My husband thinks that I am more than a little paranoid with locking doors and gates etc but thinking back that was something I always did even if it was subconciously. Survival instinct…

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    1. Very well put Sally. Yes, we certainly are aware of much media hype in our social media world. And like you, I have always been a door locker – nothing wrong with that! ❤

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  11. In our youth we feel invincible. Nothing can touch us. Now with four and six-lane highways and bumper to bumper traffic, my reaction time is slower and the grey matter doesn’t compute as efficiently anymore. As well, there are so many turkeys driving and it’s difficult keeping an eye on my driving as well as the guy / gal next to me. I remember driving to Toronto for a party during a snowstorm. The announcement on the radio was to stay OFF the highways. I laughed and went ahead. I arrived, didn’t I and the party was great! 😀

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    1. Thanks for sharing Tess. And I envy your courage driving to T.O. at all, let alone in a snowstorm! I would have to stay you still have the fearlessness? Or was that trip a long time ago? 🙂

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      1. I was in my silly twenties then and up for anything. I avoid highway driving as much as possible now and you won’t find me driving to T.O. Uh-uh. The traffic is horrendous these days. There are many, many more vehicles on the roads now in the past 30, 40 and 50 years ago.

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      2. Lol, I figured, but wanted to clarify 🙂
        It has certainly been interesting reading the feedback on this post. It seems to me the consensus from most boomers here is that we all seem to share the same anxieties about driving in this new era! ❤

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