FEAR NOT, The Corona Virus! Unless you are scared...
Social scientists say we are all born with only two innate fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds. The rest of our fears we learn to our dismay. As our behavior is shaped mostly by feelings, rather than rational thinking, fear is probably the most damaging.
Fear is one of eight primary emotions that serve as the foundation for all others feelings we express; the others being: joy, sadness, acceptance, disgust, anger, surprise and anticipation (Pollack, 2016). For most of us - Yeah, even you Macho's - Fear is the most influential in driving our behaviors.
Most fear is learned. Spiders, snakes, La Llorona y El Cucuy -- these are developed at a young age, influenced by our environment and culture. We are not automatically scared of spiders, but as a child we build on cues from our parents and others around us. Their fears become our fears.
Some fears are real. Allergies, such as, bee stings or peanuts, both of which are life threatening to some people. Human beings can be predisposed to fear certain things like spiders and snakes because of social evolution.
Professor Norrholm, a neurologist, maintains. "Back in our ancestral age ... young children learned not to pick up snakes and spiders because they're venomous."
In all animals, the purpose of fear is to stimulate survival acts; like running away, hiding or fighting as the need arises. In the course of human evolution, the people who feared the right things survived to pass on their genes. It has been claimed, Charles Darwin called it a physically instinctive tightening of muscles triggered by an evolved response to fear.
For example, rats are quick to learn not to grab the queso from the trap for fear of certain death...most of the time. It is said, they learn to fear traps and avoid them.
Or a perceived danger or threat, could be when you see a stranger in a hoodie at night, walking quickly in your direction.
Or you observe a group of rough-looking teenagers swarm into the restaurant your visiting.
Or your Mama's Chancla, when she warned you not to run in the house!
The examples could be innocent events misread by you because of a self-created threat you imagined. Maybe, it was because of a previous event you experienced that didn't go well. Maybe, it was implicit bias about hoodies and teenagers! Pero, never forget ese...the Chanclaso...that fear is real!
It’s been said that the word F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Thus, there's supposedly no true threat or danger. No threat of loss of life or fear of something dear to us like a job interview, first time riding a bike, or first date! This view argues that there is nothing at all we should be concerned about since F.E.A.R. is an illusion created in our mind.
Yeah right, the reality is…we are all afraid at some level of shit we can’t understand or control at times...let's see, what could that be today...the Corona Virus perhaps?
Covid-19, has overwhelmed many of us with fear caused by the sudden attack on the lives of people throughout the world and the unprecedented changes in societies response to the pandemic.
These Covid-19 fears are based on a real threat that is beyond our control. We can't even see the threat until it hits us, family or friends members directly. But our fear doesn't stop there.
We are also fearful of losing; losing jobs, health care coverage, losing our businesses, and losing time. On a much lower scale, we are fearful of losing the lifestyle we had grown accustom to before Covid-19. Fear of a new-normal, fear of change...that Darwin reminds us is inevitable.
Sabes que Raza, it's OK to have some level of fear because - "We don't know, What we don't know!"
With all the uncertainty around us, it is a natural, instinctive, part of our survival...to look in the mirror - after 30+ days of no haircut, eyebrows over trimmed, unshaven, and seemingly no life purpose but to binge watch TV and say, "QUE HACES, ESTAS LOCA?"
What we do about our fear, counts for more than just being fearful of an uncertain future. Here are PuroChisme's Lista-de-la-Vista on Fear based, in part on J. Steimle's Forbes 14-point tips:
1. We should understand fear and embrace it. Fear exists to keep us safe. It is not inherently bad or good but a tool we can use to make better decisions. Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform our actions, but not control them. So Raza, what is it that really scares you about Covid-19?
2. Name the fear. Did you know that acknowledging what we fear, gives us the strength to deal with it. Sometimes the reality is bad, but often you might find that the fear itself is worse than whatever it is you’re afraid might happen. When you try to ignore your fear, it grows. When you face it, it shrinks
3. Think long term. Attack your fear with a plan of action. Thinking about the long term won’t fix your short term problem, but it can help you think about it more objectively and come up with the right plan to attack, money issues, transportation, and health concerns.
4. Educate yourself. If your fear is based on a lack of information, then get the information or knowledge you need to examine the situation based on facts rather than speculation. Step away from the obvious negative impact of Covid-19 - Death - and process it differently, for what it is: A terrible pandemic tragedy that has affected (illness and death) a relatively small number of people compared to the millions who are not affected right now and those that have recovered worldwide. We know its not over, but our immediate plan should be to mask up, glove up, stay home and keep busy creating stuff (after we clean the house)!
5. Utilize peer pressure. If your homies jumped off a bridge into a river below, would you? Pues, YEAH with enough peer pressure and a push! Worrying about failing yourself or others will not change your circumstance. But the challenge, can be buffered by our interactions with our network of family, friends, loved ones, or social groups. You reading this PuroChisme blog is a good example...Ok, maybe NOT!
6. Follow others, find a recipe. Are you doing something that has never been done, or can you follow the footsteps of someone else who has accomplished it before?
7. Have a positive attitude. Look at all the social media buzz on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram; the creative masks from paper towels to Lucha Libre headgear. Or the virus songs and skits written and performed live, or tasty meals created or art murals on home walls. And the funny memes! All in isolation and shared with the world!
8. Be flexible with your plan. A Perfect Plan, is a plan doomed to fail. But success happens when we are NOT afraid to change our direction. If something didn’t work out the last time, figure out why it didn’t work, and try something different.
If you were guaranteed success, would you try more things? Would you keep working, long after others would have given up? People who over come their fear have positive attitudes. They are successful because they keep trying after others give up. So Raza...Don't give up...Get up and Get busy!
Limits, like fear, is often an illusion.
I've learned over the years, that's when one's mind is made up,
this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done, does away with fear.
"Aprender a dudar, es aprender a pensar"
Seth Davin Norrholm, Ph.D., Wayne State University
Gibson EJ, Walk Rd. The "Visual Cliff! Sci Am. 1960 Apr;202:64-71.