ARTIFICIAL VERSUS NATURAL FEAR
First things first. We’ll begin with the etymology of the word ARTIFICIAL:
late 14c., “not natural or spontaneous,” from Old French artificial. Meaning “made by man, contrived by human skill and labor” is from early 15c. The word was applied from 16c. to anything made in imitation of, or as a substitute for, what is natural, whether real (light, tears) or not (teeth, flowers). Meaning “fictitious, assumed, not genuine” is from 1640s. Artificial intelligence “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines” was coined in 1956.”
And now, a look at the etymology of the word NATURAL:
c. early 14c. “of the world of nature (especially as opposed to man),” from Old French naturel “of nature, conforming to nature; by birth,” and directly from Latin naturalis “by birth, according to nature,” from natura “nature” (see nature). Of events, features, etc., “existing in nature as a result of natural forces” (that is, not caused by accident, human agency).
Now that we have that out of the way, we’re going to see how these two words are much more meaningful in our Life.
The definition of “man-made” refers to something that was created by humans, as opposed to by God or nature. An example of man-made is a lake that was dug by a company using machines. Another example of man-made is an artificial fiber used to make a piece of fabric. Other examples are: airplanes, houses, buildings, furniture, cars, books, computers, pens, light bulbs, watches, etc.
Natural things are not human-made. They are existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind. These things are not manipulated or processed. They are naturally found on earth. A few examples of natural things are soil, animals, plants, mountains, vegetables, clouds, flowers, rain, birds, water, etc.
The main point to all of this set-up is to discuss the artificial versus natural responses and reactions to processes we are witness to every day. In this case, we’re talking about FEAR. The Greek word for this is “phovos” (φόβος), and its associated word φοβία (fear/panic) is the root of the English word phobia. Phobia is defined as: “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.”
As humans, we have two innate fears which are universal and common to all human beings, regardless of the society or culture into which we were born and raised. And yet, every other fear we have is based on our own, or others reactions to an experience in our lives and how we’re still being held back by that fear. And here’s the kicker … these fears aren’t real, they’re illusions, they don’t exist. Fear, is a thought. It is a response to concepts that we’ve created from things we thought were true, but actually are not. But what about the natural, versus artificial fears? Surely there must be something natural about fear? Well, humans actually do have TWO natural fears. They are the fear of loud noises, and the fear of falling. All else, is what we have learned to be fearful about.
2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Our fears come from outward influences and from our past experiences. Our parents, our teachers, our friends, our colleagues, our bosses, social media, our culture and society. All of our past experiences have contributed to these personal fears. We have built an extensive library of fears to reference, and these fears erode our confidence and our ability to thrive in life. Some of these fears serve us well, as part of our protective system. But most of our fears just hold us back from being all that we can be, and all that we want to be.
In other words, we are carrying around a bunch of stories in our subconscious Mind, and in our belief system which are limiting our sense of being … and being at ease. Understand that there are basically two parts to the human Mind: the conscious and the subconscious. The conscious Mind is our “thinking mind”, the part that we are aware of, and it processes about 2,000 bits of data per second. Our conscious mind is responsible for handling about 5% of our awareness of the human experience, and we get to choose what our conscious Mind experiences during the course of our Life.
Our subconscious Mind is the behind-the-scenes programming. It controls aspects of us such as breathing, heartbeat, and other functions which we can’t directly control, and processes about 20,000,000 bits of data per second. It is responsible for 95% of our choices, decisions, and behaviors, but these are completely carried out by the programs held within this subconscious portion of the Mind. The are not conscious choices.
Bottom line, 95% of what is experience in Life is because of the programs running in the background – without our awareness. We might have explained these away as “that’s just who I am”, “but it’s not who we are – it’s who we were programmed to be.” We, are the witness to these experiences. The unseen Observer within the realm of the seen. From childhood, through adulthood, we are fed opinions from others. And the real problem is that most people never truly understand that these are beliefs, and not Truth. They are not real. They are just someone else’s perception of reality that they experienced and then handed down to us.
Fear, worry, and doubt, are accepted as normal; and this is just another belief. Fear, worry, and doubt; are all because someone shared their painful belief with you when you couldn’t decide for yourself – and now you get to carry around their baggage. But these beliefs are artificial, and not natural. So we end up carrying around emotional suitcases full of everyone else’s fears, worries, and doubts – all except the two we discussed above: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. These two are genetic and embedded in our DNA as a means of physical survival. Fight, flight, or freeze. Its our protection found in the Limbic System of our biology.
Every other artificial fear, worry, and doubt; is absolutely unnecessary and you can let them go whenever you choose. I suggest you pay attention to your deepest fears, worries, and doubts and trace them all the way back. Spend quiet time in meditation or contemplative prayer. The answers are always within. Listen for that still small voice. In Hebrew, the phrase for “gentle whisper” means “the sound of thin silence.” That’s where Spirit within meets us: in the gentle whisper, in the thin silence. Use your intuition. Ask within yourself, if this fear is real … from a sense of natural response, or is it artificial?
Natural fear helps us to guard ourselves against a harmful situation. This is part of our evolutionary journey. Natural innate fear is an adaptive behavior that we have to help identify threats. It is an ability that has allowed us as humans to survive predators and disasters.
Proverbs 12:25 says: “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
Luke 12:22 says: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?
Philippians 4:8 says: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
As a man thinks, so he becomes. Studies have shown that we can overcome some of our fears by continued exposure to them. By constantly exposing ourselves to our fears, whether it be sports, public speaking, animals and bugs, bad news, anxiety, or failure; our tolerance for them will grow. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” So ask yourself, is this fear I am feeling artificial, or is it natural. Both are real, but only one is innate. Is it just a thought or a belief, or is it a fundamental and foundational Truth?
Just a thought …
~Justin Taylor, ORDM.
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