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Not all fear is bad. Good, or healthy, fear is instinctive and protects us from genuine danger. It’s the bad fear that is the cause of most of our miseries.
Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s passport listed his occupation simply as ‘Producer.’ Once he was detained at a French airport by a suspicious customs official who asked him, “So what do you produce?” “Gooseflesh,” replied Hitchcock.
The great English producer-director is perhaps best known to make fearsome thrillers that would keep the audiences on the edge of their seats. But not many know that Hitchcock had his own fears, the most prominent being his fear of the police. He developed this fear at the age of five, when his father, in order to punish him, sent him on an errand to deliver a sealed letter to the local police station. After reading the letter, the police officer locked young Hitchcock in a cell. After a little while, when he was released, the officer warned him, “This is what happens to bad little boys”.
Hitchcock remained frightened of police for the rest of his life—so much so that he reportedly refused to drive for fear of being pulled over.
Fear is like that. Once it finds a place in our consciousness, it stubbornly refuses to leave. Worse, fear produces gooseflesh in us at the slightest provocation and makes sure that we miss out on some of the most enriching experiences of life.
To be sure, not all fear is bad. Good, or healthy, fear is instinctive and protects us from genuine danger. It’s the bad fear that is the cause of most of our miseries.
Especially in these times of massive political and economic uncertainty around the world, the bad fear is in a commanding position, casting its dark shadow on one and all. But there’s a way to deal with the tyrant.
In this month’s cover story, author and psychotherapist Thom Rutledge shares with us techniques to defeat the bad fear, which he personifies as “the bully”. According to Rutledge, bad fear is the result of years of fear-based thinking. The sheer repetition of fear-messages has given this bully a high level of credibility. “The challenge we face is to reverse that brainwashing, to learn to do more than lean away from the voice of neurotic fear,” he says.
The four steps outlined by Rutledge are easy to remember and apply. Of course, they need your commitment to be effective in uprooting the hold of fear. But once you master the art of dealing with fear, you will be able to live without shadows over your being.