My Aunt Virginia, whom I remember with great fondness, had agoraphobia, the fear of public places. It caused her to isolate in her apartment and I’m sure led to my uncle divorcing her. She was a sweet, wonderful woman paralyzed by fear. There are many fears and anxieties clinically defined as phobias. Then there is anxiety disorder where fear is a free-floating and almost constant companion, and needs the attention of a good therapist specializing in the same.
Normally fear is very useful; it’s a form of respect for that which might harm us. Thus our parents teach us to fear fire, complicated machinery, reckless entertainment and activities, acquaintances in legal or ethical trouble, pregnancy resulting from casual sex, etc. The list seems to go on and on, as we look back at our parents’ good intentions.
As we grow older we realize that some of the fears instilled in us do not help or protect us. They paralyze us from moving forward with our lives. Many men in particular learn that they are supposed to be fearless. They ought to have respect for that which is patently dangerous, but not to avoid danger just out of fear. They are taught to confront it head-on.
That feeling of fear, manifested by queasiness in the gut, shortness of breath, or pressure behind the eyes, is an important communication from the body toward “fight or flight.” But before the adrenaline takes over completely, many of us ought to step aside and examine the fear without fear.
Sometimes this inner examination means having to admit to ourselves that there are elements in our lives that make us feel quite defective. Free-floating fear often points to experiences that we’ve tried to forget. Yet the memories of them get triggered by all sorts of people, remarks, and situations.
Coaching can help a man discover the root of his fears in a confidential and safe environment, and then take practical action to move through them by reframing the present in terms that are not just palatable but powerful. Men often need other men to express their fears in a way that will be understood from the masculine perspective.
Where do you feel fear in your body when it crops up? How do you address it? What is the price you pay for ignoring it? What would your life look like without those crippling fears?
Contact the Man’s Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org . The Man’s Coach offers a free coaching session to whoever contacts him.