The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book characterizes fears as an “evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it (pg. 67).” It also states that fear is so troublesome that “it ought to be classed as stealing. It seems to cause more trouble (pg. 68).” If we look at it objectively, we can see that our fear is often of not getting something we want or, losing something we already have. In reacting to fear we ourselves often set the ball rolling for a clash with someone or something.
Fears can be fancied or real. A fancied fear may be that our employer wants to fire us (if we have one). Never mind that we were just chosen as employee of the month and taken to lunch by our boss. We have an internal voice that reveals our insecurities and causes us troublesome thoughts. We have low self-esteem which causes us to doubt and be fearful of our successes. At this point we may wallow in self-pity as a result of the fancied fear. Or we may become cocky and cavalier which makes things worse.
Some fears are real. Take for example the recent pandemic of Covid 19. Infection rates were astronomical. The death toll was overwhelming us. The country was on lockdown and when we were able to go out, we had to wear a mask. We also had to use social distancing from other people. Life became topsy turvy for most of us. AA meetings were shut down and we had to use a computer (if we had one) to attend meetings online at Zoom. Store shelves became empty and we had to wait in line at times to even enter a retail establishment. Yes. This was a real fear.
The only thing we could do to quell this fear was to follow CDC guidelines for protecting ourselves and our families. We stocked up the best we could on groceries and supplies for the home. This included food for our pets. This was our only antidote for fear at the time. We were stuck in our homes and social activities were limited or non-existent. This fear of catching the virus was very real at the time. In order to not succumb to unnecessary fear, we needed to be prepared. Perhaps we could work from home so we still had some income coming in. Or maybe we were qualified for unemployment benefits. Contact with loved ones and friends was limited to Face Time conversations.
We had to in other words, do the footwork and stay out of the results. We did not place ourselves in situations where the virus might be most prevalent. We used hand sanitizer on our shopping carts as well as our hands. We stayed behind the plexiglass in retail stores and offices. We stayed six feet away from the person in line in front of us. These things and a few more helped us to deal with our fears of catching Covid 19. This was our reality for quite a few months. Perhaps we came down with the virus in spite of our vigilance and preparation. There was nothing we could do except seek medical treatment for our condition. Some fears are realized.
In dealing with irrational fears, we need to see what is behind them. Maybe you fear a break up in your relationship. Everything is going great but you still fear an impending break up. This can cause all kinds of behavior. Perhaps we become clingy and need constant reassurance that everything is ok. Or we fear economic hardships and become a stingy penny pincher. We may also diagnose ourselves with some exotic incurable disease. The bottom line is we are going to have and feel fears. It is how we process them mentally whether or not we will become obsessed with them. We may employ the use of prayer when a troublesome fear comes to mind. It may be wise to discuss our fears with an understanding person. Fear can be overcome but we have to work at it. In the 4th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous we list our fears and then share them with another person. By doing so we find that we are better able to manage our fears as they crop up either fancied or real.