Fear can either be healthy or it can be toxic. In a previous blog I wrote about how toxic fear can hijack you, where you’re not able to think clearly, but end up reacting instead.
This reacting without thinking from toxic fear is the reason why many of us end up self-sabotaging our own selves without even realizing what we’re doing.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.”
The Bible says that fear brings a snare to us. Now a “snare” is defined in the dictionary as something that entraps us into harm or error.
So toxic fear can entrap us where we end up believing lies and hurting our own selves and so self-sabotaging ourselves.
Recently we were sightseeing at a tourist spot in New South Wales, Australia. This location had a high cliff overlooking the Coral Sea which was very beautiful.
While we were taking in the scene, Ania decided to go down closer to the edge of the cliffs. While there, she faintly heard some girls crying out for help. She looked around and saw a couple of girls who were stuck down below on the cliffs.
I had decided to join Ania and when I got there, she told me that she thought some girls were stuck down below. I couldn’t see them at first but as I peered over the edge I was able to see them.
I then decided to go down the cliff to see if they needed help. (Now I have to let you know that I grew up next to the Wailuku river in Hilo, Hawaii which has quite a bit of high rocks and cliffs of which I grew up jumping off of. In doing so, I’ve had quite a bit of experience climbing high rocks and cliffs. I also try to stay fit in going to the gym. So I felt pretty safe and comfortable in helping them.)
When I got closer to the girls, I asked them if they needed help, in which they answered, “yes”.
I then took a moment to survey the cliffs in which I quickly realized that they were trying to climb an area which was very dangerous and difficult to climb.
It had become very clear to me that the best way for them to climb up was the same way I had come down. But apparently they couldn’t see what I was seeing. When I told them to climb up through where I was at, they told me that they had already tried that way.
I realized then that they were very scared and were panicking and that their fears were hijacking their ability to think clearly so that they couldn’t see their way out.
In the same way, when we are in physical, mental or spiritual danger, the fears we experience often makes us react and do things without thinking.
In my experience, when people are in fear, they not only do things that will not help them get better but they also tend to do things that makes their situation worse.
The reason why they do this is because they are in a state of fight or flight, or their sympathetic nervous system is switched on because of their fears and so they react rather than think.
I have seen this happen when people get really sick physically. When they get really sick, they may begin to become fearful. And if the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with them or if the doctors don’t know how to help them, people may then become even more fearful and may even begin to panic.
You see, fear activates the amygdala which then bypasses the prefrontal cortex(where thinking and reasoning happens) which makes people react without thinking. I know this to be true because I have experienced this many times myself.
For example, in this state of reacting without thinking, people may read books or search the internet in panic trying anything they think will make them better. But many times, trying all of the different remedies even though they may be good, ends up wearing their bodies out.
I know of a situation where someone was so obsessed with getting better from their physical sickness that they overdid their good treatments for their sickness.
They were working outside in the garden getting their exercise, fresh air and sunshine. But in doing so, they had done it in such excessive amounts that they got a heat stroke and ended up dying from the heat stroke. The very thing that was meant for their healing, done in excess, was the very thing that ended up killing them.
You see when you are in fear, you cannot think clearly and so it makes it hard to moderate even your good treatments.
And so in the same way, in the mental/emotional realm, we have seen people hinder their healing because of their fears as well.
These people have also gone on the internet or read books and have tried anything and everything in order to heal. But we’ve seen people actually wear out their mental condition from trying so many things at once and also by being excessive in it.
In fact, some of the things they tried would have worked better if they’d not wear themselves out trying everything at once or if they’d not done the treatments in such excessive amounts.
We’ve also seen people who’ve made dangerous choices from what they saw on the internet, which not only made their condition worse but actually hindered them in their healing.
Like the girls who chose a more dangerous climb, many who are motivated by a toxic fear sadly end up self-sabotaging their own healing.
This is why when you are stuck in a place of toxic fear, that it’s very important to get another person’s perspective of your situation. What you may not be able to see, someone else whom you trust and who is not fearful may be able to clearly see because they’re looking at it from a different perspective as well as from a state of not being afraid.
After realizing that they needed my help, I then came down closer to where the girls were at. In the same way, in helping people who are stuck, you have to come down near to where they’re at.
If I had just yelled from the top I don’t think they would have listened to my instructions as they would have been too afraid to try again. But I believe that coming down to where they were at, gave them the confidence to try again knowing that I was right there besides them.
In the same way, in our experience of working with people, we found that it’s best to not expect people to come up to where we’re at. But instead, we’ve learned to meet people where they’re at.
We’ve also learned to not make specific conditions before we will help them. Even if their choices goes against what we are asking them to do, we will still work with them with what we got. We do let them know that if they would do what we recommended, both their personal healing as well as their relationships would improve at a much faster rate. But if they decide not to listen to us, we will still stick it out with them and work with what they give us.
It is usually after they have experienced healing and their situation gets way better that they are then grateful that we didn’t give up on them. They also realize how their fears hindered them and often kick themselves for not listening to us sooner.
I was able to help the first girl up. But the second girl had given up trying and had even said, “I’m going to die” a few times. I then had to coach her and tell her to take a break and to just relax.
We’ve also seen this happen with the people we work with in which their fears overwhelm them where they believe that they’ll never be able to get better and that they will always be this way for the rest of their lives. This type of thinking often leads them to feel hopeless and to give up without even trying.
We’ve learned from experience that in order to help people, we have to first gain their trust and help them to calm down and relax so that they can then begin to think more clearly. And when they are thinking more clearly, they are then able to see what we are saying is true and so gain the courage to begin their journey of healing.
When this last girl finally decided to climb she did so without informing me. So she ended up rushing up and climbing up at a super fast pace. In doing so she slipped, but I was prepared so I was able to grab her by her arm.
When I grabbed her arm, I felt her arm shaking vigorously. It was then that I realized how serious her fears really were.
This whole experience was a learning lesson given to me in a story form of how to best help others who are in need of healing.
These lessons are also important for us in knowing what to do when we ourselves are stuck in a physical, mental or spiritual crisis.
This story ends well where I was able to help save the two girls stranded on the side of the cliff. To be honest I had fears in the beginning as I was climbing down the cliff but when I got down I had peace which I believe God had given to me.
I am both amazed and thankful to God that we were at the right place at the right time.
My prayer is that we will clearly see where fear self-sabotages not only the people around us whom we love but also see where fear self-sabotages our own selves.
I want to become self-aware of my fears and overcome them so I can then escape and experience the freedom that God would want me to have. How about you? Keala
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