Don’t let fear harm your health

I remember reciting a phrase during my childhood that goes something like this, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.” So as I would walk back and forth to school, I would make a conscious effort to avoid any and all cracks in the sidewalks for fear of bringing unwarranted harm to my mother. This was a pretty difficult task to accomplish since in my small hometown, cracks in sidewalks were more the norm than the exception. Looking back, this was a pretty silly thing to weigh down on the mind of an eight-year-old.

Sometimes the stirring of fear within us is a good thing, such as when we hear a weather alert to take cover from an impending storm. It causes most of us to heed the warning and take necessary precautions to avoid physical harm. Merriam-Webster defines the term fear as “an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” Most times, if we didn’t feel this emotion, then we couldn’t protect ourselves from things or events that pose a real threat to our safety. It is when this feeling of fear, when there is no real threat, places us into an avoidance mode which can, in fact, be very detrimental.

When I was in my twenties, my mother got seriously ill. It was ultimately determined that she had developed colon cancer which had metastasized throughout her body. She lived only a short time after the diagnosis. Following the passing of my mom, my unrealistic belief that doctors could fix anything vanished. Her illness fell in a time period when there was no hype about getting tested for this type of cancer, and so it went undetected until it was too late.

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