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 Friends, 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, MS, 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: 

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S.,CGP
• B.A. Psychology, Rutgers University
• M.S. Villanova University
Continuing Education
• University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry
• Kutztown University
• Thomas Jefferson University Medical School
• Harvard Medical School
• Institute of PA Hospital
• Horsham Clinic
• Yale University
• Widener University
• The Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland
• The C. G. Jung Foundation, NY
• Jungian Extensive Study - Galway City, Ireland
• C.G. Jung Center Philadelphia., PA
• Private tutorial in balanced living
with intention-minded feng shui
• Certified Leader of Simple Abundance Seminars

Television, radio, and group presentations and workshops addressing depression, anxiety, anger, cancer, addictions, relationships and loss. Twenty-two years hospice work with religious institutions. Private Practice in Bryn Mawr, PA.
• American Group Psychotherapy Association
• National Registry of Group Psychotherapy Society
• Philadelphia Area Group Psychotherapy
• Who's Who of American Women
• Center for a Healthy World
• Powerful You
• e-WomenNetwork

M.J. is grief specialist for 29 years. She is also an artist who has shown and sold her work in Connecticut & Philadelphia. MJ is a published writer of articles and book collaborations. Her book, When Every Day Matters: A Mother's Memoir on Love, Loss and Life was published October 1, 2008 by Simple Abundance Press. It helps people understand and process their own grief. Her book is psychological, intimate and deeply spiritual. Sarah Ban Breathnatch stated, "MJ Hurley Brant's books is a gift of grace. For those who are hurting, a spiritual blessing awaits in between every line."

Mary Jane is available for office or phone consultations as well as speaking engagements.