Have you ever broken an old glass thermometer and watched the mercury flee its former home? As a kid, we were naive to the dangers of chasing down the little silver balls that scattered about the floor. (We were also clueless when chasing mosquito trucks spraying DDT.)
Any fears of repercussions I may have had as a child for shattering the thermometer, were quickly eradicated by my fascination with the ever elusive mercury.
It’s difficult to clean up because when you get near it, it quickly splinters into even smaller balls and darts away. Just when you’re confident you got if all, you find more clear across the room.
That’s how I feel about negative thoughts. I’ve put a number of tools at my disposal to keep from having them. They used to consume me (fear, worry, anger and frustration). Like the lost mercury, they can be insidious. Case in point…
This morning I decided to drop my son and his girlfriend at work because we had a cold blast. My gas gauge was on empty when I left the house and I didn’t have time to stop. Afterwards, I stop by the lake front to have a few moments of zen…
I’m completely mellow and content when suddenly, like the Mercury balls, images and thoughts of running out of gas keep popping into my head.
What would I do? What will that look like? I don’t have AAA anymore. It’s freezing outside! Should I have stopped? It will be my own damn fault! And on it goes…
STOP!! I turn off the engine and enjoy the view. I know this is NOT going to happen! I’ve NEVER run out of gas before. However, it irritates me that the recesses of my mind, not only consider it, but it conjures up all these unpleasant scenarios!! Why?
Perhaps it’s like the mercury looking for its former home, old habits die-hard. I’d like to BURY this one! It leads NOWHERE! As for its origins? Childhood.
As parents, in our efforts to teach due diligence to their kids, we use fear. I’m not just referring to fear of punishment. But fear of failure, humiliation, isolation, non-acceptance, poverty, injury or even death. Even if it’s by example instead of words. (Actually leading by by example is far more powerful and detrimental.) It’s a HUGE mistake, which we’re all guilty of at some point.
Children learn that a flame is hot simply by getting near it. Even a chimp knows that! Kids will not follow their friends off a cliff. That notion is ridiculous! Yet, how many times have we asked them, “So, if Johnny told you to jump off a cliff, would you jump?”
On the contrary, a child who is taught to follow blindly and obediently is far more likely to follow someone off a cliff than one who is encouraged to think for his or herself.
I have a 24-year-old son who I adore. We are very close. He had severe asthma as a child and was hospitalized on several occasions. He almost died from pneumonia on one occasion. For years after that I lived in fear of losing him and foolishly thought that by being fearful, I was doing my due diligence.
BULLSHIT! The end result was passing on fear to my child…One of the worst things a mother could possibly do! Invariably it leads to self doubt. How far will that get you?
I no longer believe there is such a thing as “healthy fear”. In fact, I’ll go a step further by saying, the expression “healthy fear” is an oxymoron! Much like exposure to mercury as a child, we didn’t know it was lethal stuff. What’s the point? Besides, last I checked, we have no control over the future anyway. In the long run, fear only serves to repress us.
In the book, “Think and Grow Rich” Napoleon Hill says, “Man’s thought impulses begin Immediately to translate themselves into their physical equivalent, whether those thoughts are voluntary or involuntary.”
I’ve found this to be true and is evidenced by that weird two week period, decades ago, when I was afraid to leave the house!
I’m going to close by saying, I enjoyed my time by the lake. When it came time to leave, I turned on my car and headed for the gas station. As I pulled away from the lake I began seeing images of myself running out of gas, I literally blurted out “Fuck you!” And drove on.
As I left the park, I drove under a viaduct past five small tents (where a few days ago there were only two) containing homeless people, no doubt seeking shelter from the wind.
What on earth do I have to complain about or be fearful of????????
6 thoughts on “Why Fear is Like Mercury”
So true! I try to drown my fears in booze 😉 It works a treat 🙂 Or else I’ll explode in a homicidal rage one day. Who knows?! 😉
Lol. That works when you’re young. But as you get older, your tolerance and reactions change. It’s kind of a drag.
I’m not that young any more – better come up with a new plan!
You are too!!!! Don’t be silly. Enjoy it while you can.
Well, it is Friday… OK then 😉
Atta girl! 😉