You remembered that time you were younger, when your friend did something bad and managed to rope you in so that you got more punishment than he received? I think that’s what fear has been doing all along. When Fear causes a problem, we blame it on greed, laziness, inhumanity and so on. Fear is a coward that hides behind other emotions to cause harm.
Fear, in my own definition, is the anticipation that something negative or bad will happen. It is an emotion, and a very powerful one at that. ‘Fear’ is a four-letter word that embodies a force that has done so many harms and has led to the death and demise of many. It is a force that can feed many other negative forces until they consume and destroy their victims. Fear is not something to toy with.
If we truly look at what is happening all over the world, we can see the roles that fear plays in them. However, I believe that to address societal problems, the problems of the individuals living within the society should be addressed first. In other words, I can only showcase ways through which fear can influence individuals living within the Nigerian society.
- Fear is the underlying cause of corruption. I mean, why else will those in authority steal from public coffers if not because they are afraid of poverty? And when they steal, they try to cover up their dishonesty through more corrupt practices because they are afraid of being caught, probed and punished.
- People go into terrorism because they are afraid of being subdued, marginalized, enslaved and annihilated. They believe that the only way their voices could be heard is by disturbing the peace of their ‘preys’. The worst thing here is that those that benefit from their actions encourage them by feeding their fears.
- People cheat and engage in different forms of malpractices because they are afraid of failure. Those in businesses are afraid that they may not make enough profit to keep their businesses going, so they cheat. Paid workers cheat because they are afraid of how to take care of themselves when they retire (and of course take care of their current expenses). This is the same thing with students who cheat because they are afraid they won’t get good jobs if they don’t make good grades.
- People hesitate to acquire more skills and improve on themselves because they are afraid of spending the little money they have on something they are not sure of. I know someone that wants to be a lecturer but isn’t willing to publish papers in journals, attend conferences and all. A question she once asked me was, “what if I spend my money on all these and still not get a lecturing job?” Honestly, I couldn’t reply to her.
- Fear encourages the increase in the level of unemployment and poverty in the country. A lot of people are afraid of starting their own businesses because they believe they will flop. They will rather look for paid work than struggle with their businesses. This is part of why we have a lot of unemployed youths in Nigeria.
- Most Nigerians migrating out of the country are doing so because they are afraid that the country can never provide good living conditions and job opportunities for them. Some of them are also leaving as a result of the fear of the security situation in the country. I know a lot of people that left the country shortly before the 2015 general elections because they were afraid that a war will break out.
- Fear discourages investments in Nigeria. Yes, both Nigerians and Non-Nigerians are sceptical about investing in Nigeria. Foreign investors are afraid of security, political and economic situations in the country, while local investors are uncomfortable with the ever changing government policies. Average Nigerians are also afraid of entrusting their hard-earnings to investment houses because they couldn’t envision their performance in the future. So, they would rather leave their money in the banks, where they can easily withdraw it should anything happen.
- From the confessions of alleged criminals that were caught by the law enforcers, one can find out that they went into crime out of fear of one thing or another. For example, robbers claimed that they went into crime because they needed the money to solve personal problems (which they were afraid they couldn’t get from any other source). It has also been discovered that people kill and maim others because they were afraid of competition.
The influence of fear on people can never be over-emphasized. There are so many of them. The ones listed above are just a few among the numerous.
Everybody experiences fear every now and then; some even see it as their drive to move higher. Though some people have learnt how to manage their fears, a lot are still struggling with theirs. It will be unwise to handle fear carelessly because it can create more problems. I believe experts should be contacted when a person feels an overwhelming sense of fear. However, the following methods are my ways of facing and subduing my fears:
- Meditation: This is quite a difficult task for someone who feels that he or she is in danger. Meditation, if done properly, has a way of quieting the mind and keeping the head clear. Meditation allows a person to look deep down and find out the cause of the fear and the possible solution. By the time the person comes out of it, he or she will no longer be afraid because the solution is already at hand. There are so many posts in the internet on how to meditate. Find what works for you.
- Vacation: Vacation here isn’t about spending so much money going to exotic places. Those that can afford that should do that anyway. You can have your vacation anywhere, so long as it gives you peace of mind. For me, anytime I feel so overwhelmed by a sense of fear that I couldn’t put a finger on its cause, I visit my hometown. Of course I face other challenges there, but it helps to keep my mind clear of whatever that was troubling me. Besides, facing other challenges from other places usually helps me handle the one that troubled me earlier.
- Counselling: Sometimes you don’t need to meet a professional counsellor to have your fear dissipated. This is one way electronic communication helps. I talk and chat with people who can help me send that fear away. They can be friends, relatives or acquaintances; it doesn’t really matter who they are so long as they listened to me. These people may not give me solutions to whatever problem I am facing, but listening to mine and maybe sharing theirs goes a long way to healing me. So, look for that confidante and talk that fear out of your mind. Trust me, talking does a lot of wonders.
- Meeting with Friends: The best thing that can ever happen to anyone is to have friends he can hang out with in times like this. These are the friends who help you to forget the pressure of life when you are with them. They are those friends who always let you know that they got your back. That is the type of friend everybody needs. I discovered this method while I was in a deep financial mess. These friends of mine have a way of finding out when I was feeling down and will invite me for one hangout or another. The good thing is that they knew my financial state and try not to hang out in places where money has to be spent. So, we targeted weddings, birthdays, housewarmings and other occasions where we have to sit, laugh and relax – at least for the moment. However, avoid ‘friends’ who will increase your problems.
- Networking: This is one reason why we shouldn’t lock ourselves in and wallow in the miseries created by our fears. There is a need to go out and meet people, the right type of people, that is. Meeting people help me to realise that everybody has one type of fear or another they are battling with. In other words, I will know that I am not alone in the battle. Besides, our contacts can help to give us the right information we need to help us send that fear out of the way. Most of the times, our fears are actually things that could easily be handled with the right information.
- Hiking: Over-thinking has its own problems – it makes the problem look so big and out of hand. But when there are physical activities, the mind seems to quieten down a bit. So, your mind just keeps reminding you of your problems, get up, dress up and go for a long walk. You will come back to thank me later (*smiles*).
In addition to all these, I’ll advise that those that have an overwhelming sense of danger should seek help immediately because delay could be deadly. Our country is not encouraging psychologists to practice their profession, yet they are released into the labour markets every year.
So, what are you afraid of? Look deep down and find out. Trust me, once a problem has been identified, its solution is already on the way. Remember, you are not alone; everyone has a battle they are fighting. Reach out to people and help will come to you.
The hustle is real.