What are you so afraid of?
“[The] epidemic of the world is fear.” (Moshav Band)
Everyone is shouldering so much fear. The fears range from nuclear warfare, fear of death, fear of failure, to even smaller fears, like being late for an appointment. Why are we so afraid? The truth is that if we would stop the frightened person and ask them, “What are you so afraid of?” They would most likely admit that their fears are really unfounded.
In Sichos Haran 83 Rebbe Nachman explains what’s going on in our hearts.
The Rebbe says that we’re really only afraid of one thing. It’s almost as if we’re sure that this ‘primary fear’ is going to ‘get us’ eventually. So all these other fears are merely an extension of our one major fear and when we stress about the small stuff it’s because there’s almost an assumption that now the time has finally arrived when ‘this thing’ will destroy us once and for all!
If you scare somebody from behind he panics even before his mind processes if there’s any reason to be scared. Why? Because he’s already scared of his ‘primary fear’ and when you jump him, he’s assuming that his primary fear ‘got him’.
So what can we do about this?
The Rebbe says that we need to take some quiet time and clarify what it is that we’re really afraid of. It’s not that hard. We need to relax and let ourselves imagine what would happen if our fears were realized. How would that make us feel? Why would it be so bad? Maybe it’s because of something else? And what would be so bad about that etc. etc. We need to keep digging deeper and ask ourselves, “what would be so bad if that fear was realized”? We can definitely do this self-help exercise and simplify what’s causing us this excess anxiety. And the greatest benefit of this practice is that we’ll most likely realize that our primary fear is not so scary after all…