Are you afraid of the dark?
When we talk about fear, the creepy crawlies comes to mind. But have you ever wondered if there’s anything more to it than just the surface of things? Perhaps there’s a link between these sorts of fear with the fear of interaction?
Written By Benjamin Ngiam
When people hear or talk about the things that sends chills up their spine, they will inevitably, start to experience distress and may also experience a little episode of paranoia.
Once a person who is Arachnophobic (Terrified of spiders) hears a mention of the critter, he or she would start to wonder if there’s one looming around somewhere around them, waiting for a perfect opportunity to ambush them.
That is an example of how fear can affect a person. But have you actually asked yourself “What exactly is fear?”
Fear, is the stress and emotion that we experience when exposed to specific alien or unknown Stimuli / Things.
Fear can also arise, when we feel threatened or when we perceive danger, which would then bring up our Fight-or-Flight Response, to either confront the threat and fight, or avoid it and run.
Fear, if not managed properly, can overwhelm us and cause us to panic and in extreme cases, even freeze up and paralyze in fear. But interestingly enough, as bad and unwanted this emotion is, it can also be helpful in allowing us to know how to perceive threats (What is dangerous) and differentiate friends from foe (Who is dangerous).
So, now that you got a little more knowledge on what fear is and some of its effects, I wanna ask you this other question…
Have you ever wondered where do our Fears come from?
What’s the origin?
Chances are, you have got a story to tell now, about a specific fear or phobia that you currently possess but have you ever wondered how did that specific story / incident changed you and made you look at THAT specific thing differently?
Here is an interesting fact…
Have you ever noticed this- You don’t have to get bitten by a snake before to be afraid of one when you see it.
You could’ve heard from a friend or watched a documentary on tv about what happens when a snake bites you and hence, you developed a fear for snakes. But why is that?
I remember asking a friend, who is really scared of dogs, why is he so afraid of them and he told me he didn’t know. He just is.
Of course, that answer wasn’t exactly one that I found to be satisfactory so, I probed a little more with his consent and I found out something…
Now, though it may sound silly but there ARE people out there who are GENUINELY TERRIFIED of canines (Even the cute and cuddly ones. Aww…) and will start to get a panic attack in their mind when placed in the same room as one (Such as my buddy) and that is because of this process called CONDITIONING.
Like you with the snakes, they have somehow, gotten the information somewhere, that dogs are dangerous and life threatening creatures which they should avoid at all cost no matter what or they might get their limbs chewed off as a chew toy… Or something like that.
After hearing that, they started surfing the net on dogs chewing people’s limbs off and they actually find some evidence of it happening which of course, reinforces the idea and fear in their mind.
Hence they became so afraid (Who can blame them?).
They got CONDITIONED to be afraid of dogs. They LEARNED to be afraid of dogs.
We learn to be afraid of something because we associate the specific bad experience that we/others have on the specific stimuli and applied it to ourselves to prevent us from having to go through the same bad experience.
So what does this have to do with Fear of Interaction?
Well, believe it or not, many years ago, I was very afraid of being near or in the same space with another human being whom, I’ve never met before. Lol seriously, I will never, ever get myself in a situation where I have to communicate with a stranger and should I be put in one? I would do my best to wriggle my way out of it. Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle- Yeah!
But one day, after spending so many years of being in those frustrating situations, I’ve finally decided to do something about it and get to the bottom of it all. I started asking myself “Why am I so afraid of talking to strangers?”
This Fear couldn’t have just formed itself inside of me for no good reason. There has to be a root for the source.
After spending many of my days in the past screening through internet articles, flipping through books in the library and countless hours of introspection, I came to this realization…
- I wasn’t actually afraid of talking to strangers because they are strangers.
- I wasn’t afraid of approaching them because they look “mean” or “scary”.
- And I certainly wasn’t afraid because of the fact that I have no idea what to say to those people (Surprisingly).
I was actually afraid of the outcome, where I would get rejected by the person who I attempt to strike up a conversation with!
I never realized this before at the time but, it was precisely because I was so afraid, that I actually panic whenever I think about attempting to talk to strangers, which, would always result in me giving up and walking away dejectedly with a blank speech bubble floating around my head.
I realized that I got this idea somewhere when I was a kid in which, if you talk to strangers whom you do not know, they will ignore you or perceive you as a weirdo for trying to start a conversation with them and eventually, tell you to go away and leave them alone.
I was conditioned back then, to view things the way I did. I know, I was a sad kid 😦
That was when I found out that I wasn’t afraid of people, nor the act of trying to talk to a stranger BUT the Fear of Rejection.
Because I was so desperate to get the approval of others in the past, I chose not to talk to anyone out of the fear that they will label me as the weird one for being “Different” and reject me from being a part of society. Sad truth was, I was actually labelled as weird for being quiet. Talk about irony.
Obviously, it wasn’t a very fun experience.
Fear of Interaction
There are many kinds of fears and phobias but I chose to discuss about the Fear of Rejection / Interaction because this issue, in my opinion, plagues quite a large population of the Human species and it actually plays a very vital role for a Human Being in his/her life because in order for them to be able to function optimally in their daily routine, they NEED to have a stable and positive social life.
In extreme cases, people who have a very negative social life actually feel isolated and alone, which increases the risk of suicide.
This just shows how crucial and important Socializing is to us Humans. We are Social Creatures after all.
Elusive to most, on the surface, this Fear of Interaction will probably look like nothing but a small case of shyness BUT, when you dwell deeper into it, what you find can actually surprise you.
Just as how I have “learned” in the past, to be quiet so that I can be accepted in society, most people who are “Shy”, actually wish for nothing more than to be able to be accepted and become part of the social clique.
- They just have no idea how to get themselves invited into be part of the group OR;
- In extreme cases, they may have experienced a specific traumatic experience at one point in their life which caused them to behave the way they are at the present moment.
Perhaps they were physically abused by an older masculine Male figure before and this person now, harbors the idea that every single masculine Male are sadistic people wearing a mask and hiding their true intentions until they see an opportunity to strike.
It’s tragic but this actually happen.
Let’s look at things in another perspective.
Have you ever witnessed or heard of a situation where a child is afraid of going to the playground to play with the other children?
Why is it that the kid does not wish to be near the playground?
- It could be that he is shy because he does not know how to get himself to be integrated into part of the “Playgroup” OR;
- He was once, bullied in the playground and hence, where other children view the playground as a fun place to play and hang around with other kids, the traumatized kid see it as nothing more than just a horror spot where he can never be safe in.
Imagine now, the kid refuses to go to the playground. He also, does not socialize much, even in school.
It is very likely that he would have troubles with his social skills in future, which would likely lead him to start having self-confidence and esteem issues, which would in turn, lead to many other life problems that he would have to learn to manage with such as not being able to pass job interviews because he wasn’t able to present himself to be as capable as the other competing job hunters despite actually being better at performing in the job than them.
I haven’t even touch on relationship issues yet and you can tell how bad things can be if a part of an Individual’s social life isn’t settled.
Before I end things off, I would like to add some last few points below.
- One does not have to be isolated BY OTHERS to feel alone.
- One can PERCEIVE THEMSELVES to be alone and isolated from others even when he/she has family and friends who cares about them but just don’t seem to understand his/her feelings and situation.
Needless to say, individuals who are experiencing this tend to contemplate suicide because they just don’t feel understood and accepted.
Sad truth is, some actually commits it.
I remember when I was younger and was in similar situation. It was not a very nice experience to go through.
The feeling that nobody in the world seem to know nor understand what you are going through and you just feel alone and hopeless.
Hence, I am sharing this with you. We can equip ourselves with more knowledge which can help us detect signs of calls for help by these people who are suffering in silence and go to them when they need someone, before they do something that can’t be undone.
Together we can make a difference and shine a light on other people’s life! Especially those who are in the darkest period of their life. Like how I used to bring a torch to my dad in the dark. You can say I brought the light to him in his darkest hours, eh? 😉
Thanks for taking your time to read as always.
I hope this has been as interesting and educative of a post that I have hope it to be for you.
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Till the next post, I hope you have an incredible Fear-free weekend ahead!
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[Image featured today in this article is by Ana C.]