Fear is big these days and, like wildfire, it spreads easily and quickly.

Fear is a primal emotion; it triggers our reptilian (more primitive) brain to fight or flee. When the reptilian brain is engaged it overrides rationality. Therefore, whatever our fear is about - our safety, our economy, our relationships, our health, or our future - fear can paralyze us without warning.

Undoubtedly, sometimes our fear is a response to real and immediate danger. More frequently, however, fear's stronghold is about our unexamined thinking as, "Oh Lord, it will always be like this!" When did we begin thinking this way? How can we possibly know something will "always" be as this? I invite all my Readers to listen to your own fearful thoughts. Listen for the word "always" or "never" as in "It will never be good again" or "I'll never get another job" or "I always mess up."

In graduate school our professors taught us how certain trigger words (as "always" and "never") were verbal clues that we were regressing psychologically. Remember that regression is a Freudian concept, a defense mechanism that we use unconsciously to help our ego survive the moment at hand and assist us to manage our stress, anxiety or other emotions. Defense mechanisms basically keep our ego from disintegrating and, while not necessarily bad; they can become so if we employ them persistently by not facing the reality at hand. Used unconsciously in adulthood (especially the unsophisticated ones such as denial) they can thwart intimacy and ruin adult relationships. Here's how that works:

Consider childhood imprints on our brains. If circumstances of childhood were indeed frightening – the yelling of a controlling and domineering parent, the coldness of a withholding one, money worries, or a severe trauma for example – our reptilian brain is programmed to revert back to those time periods because our psyche does not register time sequence.

My dear Readers, nothing is hiding under our beds anymore. When fear is upon us we need to ask ourselves, as world renowned Jungian analyst James E. Hollis, Ph.D. suggests, "When have I been here before?" When you remember the origins of your fear (from your childhood or adolescence) the current fear will not only be less severe, it will be easier to manage.

In closing, if you have suffered the loss of a beloved person when you were a child or more recently, please know that your brain is more sensitive to fear, rancor, and negative projections from others so when you feel the fear grabbing you, close your eyes and whisper the simple mantra from the 14th Century mystic, Julian of Norwich, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." These gentle words will help you stay calm, chase away contagious fear, manage uncertainty, forgive regularly, love deeply, and make Every Day Matter.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S., CGP
Psychotherapist and Author of
When Every Day Matters: A Mother's Memoir on Love, Loss and Life
(Simple Abundance Press, Oct. 1, 2008)

Author's Bio: 

Psychotherapist 29 years
Specializing in Grief
Certified Group Psychotherapist
Certified Leader of Simple Abundance Groups
Published Author