It's not what I have[.] It's what I have to give. A blog about resources--gaining, giving, and sharing.

15 September 2010

Fear, the Other Bad Four-letter Word

9:20 AM Posted by steve flores , , No comments
Sitting with a friend today, we talked about parenting. He said something profound I believe has multiple applications, not just for parenting. Here’s the line:

“I don’t want my child to fear our reaction and resist asking for help.”

I’m reminded of a situation from school. It was obvious from the blank stares in class no one understood what the professor just said, so I spoke up for clarification. I raised my hand and asked, “Sir, could you repeat what you said?”

With a sense of condescension in his voice, he retorted, “Why don’t you tell me what you heard?!”

Maybe he thought I wasn’t paying attention and it wasn’t just a teaching tactic either; it seemed like bait. Early on in the semester he laughed at a few students responses when he asked similar questions. I didn’t want to be another casualty, nor did I want to just sit and be silent. I knew my response would sound confrontational, so I paid special attention to my tone, “Sir, I don’t want to say the wrong thing and further confuse the class. I want to write down exactly what you said to have it correctly. Could you please repeat it?”

This begun a firestorm. I guess he felt challenged because what followed was a biting response. I won’t go into it, but needless to say I remained silent the rest of the class and the semester. Talking to a few students afterward, they were just as discouraged as I from asking anymore questions. He birthed fear in us and although he asked questions throughout the semester, we (the class) remained silent. I wonder if he ever knew that one exchange birthed fear and crippled our desire to ask for help. I wonder if he cared.

There are varied reasons to ask for help: relationships (building, breaking, or lack of), battling addictions, understanding school work, clarity on decisions, directions (lost, how/where to start), spiritual/emotional/physical health, and many more. My new commitment: I want to be someone who will help, not create fear with my reaction. Fear is a debilitating emotion. The consequence cripples and creates road blocks to moving forward. It’s disheartening to know I play a role in crippling another person’s desire to move forward based on my reaction. Fear is a bad word with tragic implication.

Do you resist asking for help because you fear the reaction to failure or incompetence? Is there a reason for your fear? Has a past reaction birthed fear? And the more introspective one, have I birthed fear in someone based on my reaction?