Edward Munch allegedly created this painting during a panic attack. LOL!

Edward Munch allegedly created this famous painting during a panic attack.

Fear feels terrible. I would choose anger or happiness over fear any day.

Do you ever feel fearful? I bet you do. Sometimes people express feelings of fear with statements like: “I feel anxious,” “I feel uncomfortable,” or “I’m worried.”

I feel fear off and on. Sometimes fear dominates my thoughts and feelings. I have gotten better at dealing with fear. It doesn’t come up as often as it used to. Knowing I’m not alone helps.

A gifted minister once told me that the directive to “fear not” occurs 365 times in the Bible. Regardless of your thoughts on the validity of the Bible, I think it wouldn’t be the number 1 bestselling book in the world if people couldn’t relate to it. I think this speaks to our human struggle with fear.

Fear comes from different places. However, here are five big reasons why your fear may be manifesting:

Fear from society.

Our culture propagates fear. TV news does this. People are more fearful now of a terrorist attack than they have ever been. Ask yourself if you need to be stimulated by watching trauma, either through fiction or the news. Does it make you feel safer, or does it make you more fearful?

Be careful about whether or not the information (and images) you are taking in is truly useful to you. If you are an anxious person, be cautious about where, when and how you let the fear in.

Women are indoctrinated into fear, much more than men.

Statistics tell a nasty truth: that if you are a woman, you may be attacked just for being female. I have been physically attacked a few times. The statistical reality is that 1 in 4 women will be the victim of attempted rape on college campuses. Does this help us feel fear? Yes.

You might be physiologically predestined to carry more anxiety and fear.

Scientists are finding that people who carry certain genes are more likely to be fearful than others.

Growing up with trauma.

If you grew up with abuse, neglect, addiction, or some other type of substantive dysfunction, you may be more likely to be fearful. Not having developed consistent feelings of safety, dependability and knowing that your needs would get met can naturally create distrust. If you can’t trust your world, how can you relax and know that everything will be okay? Hypervigilance makes sense as a coping mechanism, but this can morph into anxiety and fear beyond its usefulness in adulthood. This is usually treatable with professional help.

You are super smart.

I always tell my clients that if they are imaginative, creative and smart, they can get really complex and creative in their fears as well. It is the downside to being intelligent. It seems that some British researchers are agreeing. This study found that people with higher scores on the verbal intelligence portion of Weschler I.Q. tests seemed to worry more.


I wish we could without fear. So much of it is meaningless and useless. I love that saying that 98 percent of what we fear, never happens.

You may be struggling with fear. Know that you are not alone. If your fears escalate, or affects your ability to enjoy your life, it is important to get professional support and counseling.

Take care,

Learn more about Stop Giving It Away.

Cherilynn Veland, MSW, LCSW, is a counselor and coach based in Chicago. She has been helping individuals, couples and families for more than 20 years. She is author of Stop Giving It Away, a new book about developing healthier relationships with yourself and others. The Stop Giving It Away movement aims to stop the detrimental level of self-sacrifice in which many women live and work. For more insight, get a copy of Stop Giving It Away.

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Pic by Wikipedia