February 2017 Newsletter – Fear

 fearThis month’s newsletter is all about FEAR. You may wonder why I chose to focus on such a topic. Truth be told it sort of fell into my lap through a whole series of events – synchronicities really.

It all came to a head after I had posted my two part story about Maria the scarecrow. It was originally meant to be a  single story in response to a writing prompt. Oloriel who hosts the prompts, commented that the ending to the story was sad. It left her wanting a story about Maria’s return. So I wrote a sequel. Then a good blogging friend of mine, Calen said that the story would make a great fable.  I just needed to add a moral.

So – here I am writing about fear. Because that is essence of the story about Maria the scarecrow.  In the writing of this newsletter my aim is to uncover the moral for the Fable of Maria.

Hint: at this point you might like to read  Part 1  and Part 2  of Maria’s story just so you have the background context.


When I started researching fear, I discovered that I had read several blog posts about that very subject just in the last couple of weeks. Bingo – synchronicity!  And of course there is a lot of people writing a lot of stuff about all the fearful things that are happening around the world.

I often start with a Google search,  dictionary definitions, and Wikipedia . This is what I found –

Google search  for fear got me 564 million results in 0.9 secs !!!  Wow – that’s a lot of fear stuff out there. I’ve got some serious culling to do.

The dictionary definition of fear states that it is a ‘distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, whether threat is real or imagined.’  It’s synonyms – foreboding, apprehension, dismay, dread, terror, fright. It’s antonyms – courage, security, calm.

Some psychologists have suggested that fear is one of a small number of basic emotions that we all have. The others include acute stress, anger, angst, anxiety, fright, horror, joy, panic, sadness.

Typically when a person is fearful the body undergoes some changes – this is often called the fight or flight response. Breathing rate increases and becomes more shallow, the heart races, blood is redirected to the major muscles and vital organs,  goose bumps, sweaty palms, dry mouth, butterflies in the stomach…. And a feeling of fear. I’m sure we’re all familiar with these things.

Fear itself is contagious. It has been postulated that this is in response to an increase in certain pheromones which kick in,  activating the fear system.

I stretched my research a bit further and dug into the archives of my blog  – I recall writing a Halloween post back in 2015 exploring why it is that some people get a kick out of being scared. It seems the adrenalin rush, the sense of relief from surviving the situation is more intense after a good scare.

It’s a sneaky little devil, this fear thing.  A bit of a chameleon it seems. Many people have an  intense, phobic fear of particular things like for example spiders, death, heights, change, open space  and they go to extreme lengths to avoid being exposed to them.


Others actively seek it.  I sometimes wonder if the thrill seekers fall into this category too. You know, the bungee jumpers, white water rafters, extreme sports people. The rush of adrenalin laced fear melting into a soft, warm ooze of comfort and a sense of achievement  teetertottering in a precarious balance with the sense of relief. I wonder if there is an element of addiction in there too.  An urge and a drive to seek ever greater and more extreme experiences to attain that counterbalancing  surge of relief.

It’s not something I personally aspire to. Never have. I like my feet firmly planted on terra firma with no unpleasant surprises.

The thing is, repetitive  and chronic stress , such as that created by fear, takes a serious toll on health and wellbeing.

Dr Andrea Dinardo wrote an interesting article in her blog about that kind of fear. She coined an interesting acronym for it  – the ‘Forget Everything And Run  I like that. It’s very descriptive of what happens. However, she took it one step further and turned it upside down into  ‘Face Everything And Rise’.

I really like that too. It gives hope. It says that fear does not have to be the destructive force that we so often think it to be. It says that we can use it’s energy to confront and overcome it. It says that we can rise above it and take charge of our lives. She goes on to say that the way to do that is to focus on strengths. They  are greater than any perceived threats and fears.

“Breathe and Receive. The mantra Stand Your Sacred Ground inspires us to stand still, take a deep breath, and trust that being yourself is enough. Simply holding your own ground is enough. No fight. No flight. No Fear. Only love.”


There’s a lot of fear milling around in the world

There’s a lot of stuff written about fear and how to conquer it

Some people like to deliberately expose themselves to fearful situations for the thrill of it and the sense of relief they experience afterwards

Some people are frozen in a state of chronic fear that has a huge and detrimental impact on their whole life

Fear can be contagious

Fear can be turned around into a positive force

Maria returns


Maria was huge, scary looking, but in a nice way

How she arrived, left and returned is a mystery

The whole village celebrated the metaphor that is Maria (= fear) every week in a rather macabre way with food, games and fun

When she disappeared everyone felt the loss – the soul of the village had been taken leaving life hollow and meaningless

The announcement of Maria’s return was preceded by wild rumours of death, gloom and horror – imagined fear

Maria’s return signalled a joyous return to the status quo that existed before. Life had returned to normal – calm


Maria’s presence gave the villagers a reason to celebrate and give vent to their childlike albeit bizarre expressions of fun. Everyone joined in.  Maria as metaphor was the glue that kept the village humming and happy.

When she disappeared the fabric of the village was torn asunder.  Just as mysteriously as she had appeared and disappeared, Maria and Halloween returned to the village and ‘all was well again.’ No one questioned why or how she came and went.

‘Fear’ (aka Maria) in its mysterious comings and goings had a huge impact on the village.

Maria’s presence enabled a sense of purpose and balance to exist. The villagers lived in a state of ‘Face Everything And Rise’. Her absence plummeted them into ‘Forget Everything And Run’.


Fear can sometimes hit as mysteriously as  a bolt of lightning out of a blue sky. Or it can be actively sought in order  to experience the yin and the yang of it.  Or it can be chronic and pervasive. How the impact  is managed  and experienced at a visceral level seems to be the critical key.

THE MORAL of the story about Maria is that life is a celebration of community, relationships and connections.

Or do you have a different take on it ?

© Raili Tanska

Also written inresponse to Lady Calen’s Sandbox Challenge 78

Steps for Peace 

If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace — Thich Nhat Hanh

15 thoughts on “February 2017 Newsletter – Fear

  1. Wow! GREAT newsletter, Raili! I didn’t know about the pheromones thing. Is that what happened, I wonder, with the witch trials in Salem? I LOVED Dr. Dinardo’s acronyms for FEAR. So easy to remember. Going to keep them in my tool belt! As to the moral of Maria’s story, I wonder if it doesn’t go deeper than the community relationship and connection. It seems like it would have to stem from something deep inside each individual. In fact, it made me wonder if it had something to do with loss. Still pondering on it. It’s quite fascinating, actually…

    1. The contagious aspects of fear is a fascinating subject. When it comes to masses of people (think the witch trials, Hitler and other despots, the recent elections there) I do wonder how much of a role it had to play. As is group think, and the charisma of the leaders. Interesting to ponder on.
      I had to stop myself when writing this newsletter as I could have delved a lot deeper than I did. It felt like I was just skimming the surface. And you’re right about the moral…It is individual as much as it is community and loss. I’ll be interested to hear about your ponderings 🙂

  2. Fear is certainly contagious when promoted. It festers and takes a life of its own. Not a good place to be at all. This post is quite insightful. I am learning not to be afraid of the feart that emanates from the mind (except obvious bodily danger).

    I am shamelessly attaching a little link of me below 🙂

    1. It’s a life-long learning, isn’t it, coming to terms with and managing that fear monster within. No need to feel apologetic about attaching your link 🙂 I have a YouTube notification of it too – it’s on my list of things to listen to 🙂

  3. Lots of food for thought here and like you, I love Dr Andrea’s blog. Fear seems to be a major topic at the moment – I have read quite a few blog posts on it these past few days alone. The solution to fear for me is love.

  4. Jumped over from the Senior Salon
    One of the most interesting to me, Raili – thanks so much for sharing. With fear mongers recently coming to power, this is beyond timely.

    Fear, anxiety and rumination are topics that have long fascinated me in any case, along with reframing and resiience. I have often written about one or the other on ADDandSoMuchMORE, especially since I support folks with anxiety disorders and PTSD. I will leave the “insides” of the links to only a few of many below – for you and your readers. They won’t “click” until you front them with “http:” in your browser window. At least that is the way it used to work – my apologies if they now post “live.”


    The one below explains a bit about amygdala activation, fight/flight etc., asking the question that looks like a statement from the link:


    Love the positive reframe from Dr. Andrea. I remember finding her, but her blog must be one of the ones that dropped off during/after one of the WordPress “improvements” so I’m glad to have a reminder to jump over once more (happening more lately, I’ve noticed).

    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

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