5)   Recognising and Handling Fear.

When we learn to stand up and take our first steps as babies, I imagine we must be fearless. That initial step followed by a fall on to a nappy padded bottom is fine, but what about those later more excitable steps into the arms of a loving parent , which inevitable includes a few painful falls and tearful cries.

In the case of my first born, who was a very late walker, he could get around perfectly fine on his bottom. One day we set out a course marked with Smarties his favourite sweet, which he could only retrieve if he walked. Needless to say it did the trick, he’s probably moved on to stronger tastes but I won’t go there.

But if the carer holds their nerve aren’t too influenced by their own earlier pedestrian struggles and avoids projecting anything other than reassurance, all should go well. But the world isn’t perfect and if for some reason your parents had shall we say unreasonable fears, then the growing child is bound to be affected by them.

In his groundbreaking work psychoanalyst John Bowlby makes very clear the influences of the family. How we take on the traits of our parents in extreme cases when ” attachment behaviour is regarded as childish and weak, and is rebuffed, all expression of feeling is frowned upon and contempt expressed for those who cry. Furthermore he comes , like his parents , to view his yearning for love as a weakness, his anger as a sin and his grief as childish”.

I quote from Attachment and Loss, Sadness and Depression .
My guess is that most of our unreasonable fears arise from those early years and are difficult to reconcile.
My personal history is pretty average for the time, though I suspect that my mum was fairly anxious and depressed , bringing up two boys on her own with a war on.
But I was lucky as the post war years were much more carefree and car free. Children could spend hours playing outside climbing trees etc. unsupervised.

So much for my amateur attempt at child development, what I’m saying is that when you feel fear or apprehension , which will start in the body and then the mind takes over and depending on your conditioning makes an even bigger deal out of it.

But what is really remarkable is that once you recognise this process, Self Trust starts to kick in and the unreasonable fears drop away and you can calmly focus on reality. Let’s call this mindfulness of apprehension , as fearfulness sounds a bit strong. Anticipation of something adverse, is the usual definition of apprehension .

Let me finish this piece with the experience of Sally , a lady I met on a ride down the Elba, who seemed unhappy with the companion she was cycling with. I sent her a copy of ZYCLING and this is what happened.

My First Bike Trip Alone.
Hi Tony , although it’s a couple of weeks back , now, just like to tell you how my first bike trip alone went. It was great; I road up North to the Baltic Sea coast to spend a week at the beach.
I was also s**t scared ……before
I new this was the big one for me. It started the evening before and I was soon in crisis mode. Why am I doing this? Why alone? What am I trying to prove?
The next morning I almost stayed in bed. But no, I went into auto mode and finished the last bits of packing , got on my bike , didn’t forget anything , left and went to catch the train.

It was a great summer’s day, everyone was on the train going up to the coast…..I changed trains , didn’t miss the train, got out at the right place. (all the things that had made me nervous…..) then I took a whole number of wrong turns leaving the town….At 1130 I was by a lake in a wood with THE bike path before me.
Right then and there, I was no longer scared.
I was completely happy .
At the end of the first day (ca. 70 km ) I sat again by a lake , drank a beer and ate fish and chips and was so glad I hadn’t stayed in bed!
I got to the coast with no major mishaps, the weather was perfect, the beach at the end of it amazing . Already planning my next trip.
Hope you are well and thanks for your motivation

              So keep right on to the end of the road . PLG tony

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