Someone spoke to us today about fear. It shocked us; frankly, we did not expect that sort of comment. It was not the moment to talk about that, it was not the conversation to engage to that topic, but I made us think about it.
We have a theory about the subject though. We were surprised today to know that someone had fear, because we do not believe in fear. We actually think fear does not exist.
For us, what people call fear is just the psychological reaction to lacking information about whatever thing generates that so-called fear precisely.
If we take a look to History, we realize the urge people have for knowledge, for knowing what might be going on in a given moment, for what might come in the future, for the cause of a given effect, for the future effect of a given cause.
And when people did not know why something happened, when they did not know the cause of certain effect, they reacted typically following two patterns.
Either they invented an explanation for it, which would stay valid until someone came up with a better theory or they allowed an uncomfortable feeling that hey happened to call fear to justify their ignorance.
The first approach is actually the basis of old mythology… and scientific progress afterwards. The need for knowledge made people invent gods and myths that moved waters, caused rain, or even separated day and night. And those who remained ignorant were subject to manipulation of the myth-creators. When people do not understand something, they tend to worship it… (Incidentally we must say that this probably is why so many politicians love statistics and supposedly scientifically-based studies… or why so many top managers here and there adore Excel worksheets and PowerPoint presentations…)
The second reaction is very similar to the one that children have at night, when everything is dark… When obscurity surrounds you, you are not able to see, and not seeing is equivalent to not knowing. Not knowing is precisely the origin of that feeling called fear. And this is why the most common action from parents that have children afraid of dark is simply switching a light on. (Incidentally we should mention that terror movies should not be sponsored by electricity companies in the hope that they will charge consumers more in their regular bills.)
If someone tells you about being afraid, what that person is really telling you, even without knowing himself or herself, is that he or she misses information or knowledge about whatever it is that frightens he or she.
That person is telling you basically that regarding that matter, he or she is in darkness, and that he or she needs help. The mere fact that he or she admits fear is a positive request for help, for if he or she did not want that help, fear would not have been confessed.
When someone tells about his or her fears, turn a light on for him or her… maybe that person is so much into darkness that does not even realize that there is a switch somewhere to be turned on.
We are in the age of information; somewhat ironic that we talk about ignorance, isn’t it? Still, enlightening darkness is as important as ever… Turn the switch on: It might be lighting a bulb, or it could be starting your PC so you can send an email.
Do that for the person that needs to know, and you will prove trust. And trust is one of the pillars of a much stronger and important psychological reaction, let’s put it this way.