We are Still Afraid of Monsters: How our Childhood Fears Manifest Themselves Today
We drive cars to work. We have jobs. We pay bills. We have families. We do our taxes (hopefully). Many of us, I’d consider most of the people reading, would consider themselves adults. Even if not an adult, you might still consider yourself not to be a child. We do all the things adults do. We have responsibilities. You wouldn’t consider yourself still afraid of monsters, right?
Some of us may comically say, “You bet I am!”, but not really. We don’t lose sleep at night because we are afraid of the boogie man coming out of our closet. We don’t have to sleep with the lights on (especially because of those bills). Adults aren’t afraid of monsters, right? Think again. They are, and you are. Just not in the same way that you might think.
The Fears We Use to Have
When we were younger, most of us had a specific monster that we were afraid of. Some of us were afraid of the boogie man under the bed. Some of us were afraid of clowns. Some were afraid of darkness itself. Here’s a question: Why were we really afraid of those things? On a logical level, you know that there can’t be anything in the closet, under the bed, or in the darkness—especially not a fictional character. They are irrational fears, but we fear them nonetheless.
When I was younger, I was afraid of aliens. I watched one too many (one) an alien movie, and the fear took over me.
As I grew a little older, I analyzed the fear. I realized it wasn’t just the aliens. It was the idea of them abducting me, isolating me, and never seeing my family again. I wasn’t afraid of aliens. I was afraid of being alone.
Uncovering the Root
Even as a child, all the irrational fears that we had were grounded and something very real. Depending on what we were afraid of, it was a good indicator of our very real and rational fears that we hold deep inside.
Take clowns—one of the most feared beings alive. Many people who feared clowns held an internal fear of the clown’s concealed, possibly sinister intentions. Why do they fake that eerie smile? Who’s really behind the makeup? Why am I the only one suspicious of this random guy we let in our house?! A fear of clowns now translates as questioning people’s ulterior motives.
The fear of the dark as a kid usually translates to the fear of the unknown as an adult. From the moment we are born throughout our old age, most of the world remains a mystery. We never really know what the future holds for us. For many, that is a very real fear.
We are Still Fighting Monsters
For many of us, we just sort of grew out of those irrational fears. One day we realize that someone our age shouldn’t be afraid of those silly things anymore. We overcame the face of the fear.
The monsters were never the core of the fear of themselves, they were just the face of the underlying fear. If we were never able to realize this, then we may have never overcome the true monster—not the one under our bed.
The best step toward conquering these monsters is realizing that the fight is not over.
Thinking back to the things that we used to be afraid of when we were younger usually isn’t that hard. Fear is a very compelling emotion. Think about your childhood fears. Looking back on them now, what specifically were you afraid of happening? Were you afraid of being taken from your family? Were you afraid of your family being taken away from you? Were you afraid of being held captive in losing your freedom? Were you afraid of the unknown? Were you afraid of experiencing fear itself?
Those sound like much more adult fears now, don’t they? Once you have uncovered the core of your monster, it’s time to learn what to do about it. Let’s pretend that werewolves were real. Just because you recognize your fear of werewolves doesn’t make them any less dangerous. However, it would probably make you more prepared to face one.
How We Know Purpose
Our fears have not been lying dormant all these years. They have been dictating our actions to this day. In fact, fear is often how we find purpose in our lives.
If we were afraid of the unknown, then we spend our time learning and exploring to fill that gap. If we were afraid of being alone, then we find and deep in as many relationships with others as we can. This is how we find purpose in our fears.
It is important not to go in the wrong direction though. If you are afraid of the possible sinister intentions of others, then it would be wise to be cautious of aware of who you trust. But, you shouldn’t trust absolutely no one in your entire life. You shouldn’t isolate yourself in an effort to overcome your fear of being alone (more common than you think). It is vital to make sure that our fears are manifested in a positive way today.
The Stigma of Fear
I know that by now there are so many of you thinking, “A life ruled by fear? That’s terrible advice!”, and I can completely understand that viewpoint. So much of today’s motivation comes from making an enemy out of fear. We must overcome, relinquish, push aside, kill, and outsmart fear.
I am here to tell you that fear is not the enemy. Fear is completely natural and even necessary for our survival. Not even just for our survival, but it is necessary for a happy and growing life.
Fear is a tool. That is all it is. Just like any tool, it depends on how you use it. If fear has been driving you towards negative action your entire life, then, of course, you will view it as the enemy. It’s time to make fear work for you now.
Instead of being afraid of how you look at the gym (preventing you from going), be afraid of how you will look in 10 years if you don’t go (propelling you to the gym).
It all matters the outcome of the fear. It is crucial to look at the actions that are inspired by any of our strong emotions. Learn to leverage your fear in encouraging positive action. Be afraid of being broke, so it will make you save your money. Fear is just a tool. Make it work for you.