fear (and its word-field: alarm, dread, qualm, worry, panic, horror, phobia, paranoia, and terror)
guilt (and shame), anger (with wrath and fury)
Spiritual Resources > Spiritual Word Meanings > Fear and Guilt
fear [ < Old English færan (to terrify, ambush, surprise)] Definition: A strong emotion due to foreseeing or becoming aware of danger; the reason or cause of such strong emotion.
At its best, fear helps you protect yourself, and helps to remind you that you don't have control over everything in your life (and never will). Our biochemistry is wired to produce alarm, which makes us aware of what's around us. Our fear reactions are never a fully controlled sort of thing - they kick in, and then we start wrestling them for enough control for us to keep functioning, sometimes at our highest level. Fear's a blunt instrument, not a scalpel. It doesn't converse, it yells and screams. It's crude, but it does the job.
At its worst, fear can turn you into a murderous bigot or a quivering coward. A person can create fear in someone else, for vengeance or control. Demagogues tell stories of perilous fear, in order to get their way. They conjure up fears from the past, or whip up today's little fears into great Godzillas, wrecking the city of your mind. Great leaders get us to reach beyond fear, even beyond hope, to a future built on a love that is beyond just ourselves and is far greater than all fear. Fear can shrink the soul more than anything else except powerlust. And sometimes fear drives powerlust, when you seek power in order to become safer - but of course the more powerful you are, the more others seek your power, thus you become more afraid.
There are many kinds of fear:
Jesus is several times recorded as saying, "Fear not". It's also one of the traditional messages of the angels. Psalm 23 says "I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me". Fears that are turned over to God will be muted or harnessed, or will go away. Instead of fearing the darkness, seek the light. Go against God, and there is no reason not to be in terror, except perhaps for God's unfathomable mercy.
When you stop trying to be in control and let God be in control, there is no cause for fear, for the One in Control loves you and seeks the best for you. Trust in God's love casts out fear. When you stop fearing your neighbor, it opens you up to the possibility of loving them - but it's not the same thing as actually loving them.
"Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed."
"Courage is fear that has said its prayers."
"Fear God, yes, but don't be afraid of Him."
J.A. Spender, *The Comments of Bagshot*
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."
"Fear is only as deep as the mind allows."
a Japanese saying
"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."
No need to dread checking the dictionary to define fear.
guilt [ Old English gylt (crime, criminality) ] Definition: When you've done something wrong, in the past or present. Also, the frame of mind and the emotions which spring from thinking you've done something wrong, whether it is actually so or not.
There are at least two forms of guilt that affect us:
On the one hand, there is no way to turn away from wrongs or to reconcile without realizing that it was wrong, that doing wrong actually matters in some way, that it is your responsibility, and feeling enough of the wrongness of it to want to turn away from it and make up for it somehow. At its best, guilt could lead you to repentance, which needs to be expressed. One way of doing this is by the practice of confession.
On the other hand:
That's where what Jesus did can give such release: "neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more." Since God does not condemn you, you're free to enjoy what God has given you. You're free from having to let guilt or shame nag you or weigh you down. You're free to start again. You no longer need to be so self-protective, or self-destructive, or full of shame. You were created good, and you are treasured by God so you have much value. You can move ahead to more valuable deeds.
"Mothers, food, love, and career: the four major guilt groups."
Cathy Guisewite, cartoonist of "Cathy"
"There's no problem so awful that you can't add some guilt to it and make it even worse."
Bill Watterson, *The Complete Calvin and Hobbes*
You're allowed to feel guilty enough to check the dictionary on 'guilt'. But remember to eat your vegetables.
anger [ < Old Norse angr (bitterness, sorrow) ] Definition: strong negative emotion. The adjective/adverb is 'angry'. Its word-field includes blow up, huff, ire, miff, rage, wrath, mad, fury, p^*$#d off, resentment, dander (up), acrimony, and indignation. (As is usually true of the English language, each related word represents a slightly different form or degree of anger.) The root of the word 'anger' is found in anxiety, angst, angina, and perhaps even hangnail.
Anger may be directed at someone or something or some circumstance, or just a generalized grrrrr at everything. Many things cause anger and the conniptions that come from it: loss, injustice, jealousy, loss of control, lack of hope, sleeplessness, fear, chemical imbalances, and physical pain. Anger can sometimes be a good thing that shows you something's not going right. That 'not-rightness' may be from an injustice someone else is doing, or some action that's aimed at you. Your anger may be a signal that it's your time to start taking action, though it would be wise not to act while your anger still has the upper hand in you. Raging anger can lead to behaviors which will make you feel shame.
You can do something about your anger in moments when you find yourself going into a rage. You can:
Such actions re-establish self-control. Gentleness may have to wait for another time.
Though you will be angry at times, the apostle Paul said not to let the sun go down on your anger. You can:
That way, anger doesn't feed on itself to rob your joy and that of those around you.
If you have depression-related anger or are in a especially stressful time, you may find it helpful to take depression medication, do some form of yoga or controlled body movement, get some sleep, and (most important) establish a regular pattern of exercise. If anger is a common part of your life, you need to address it for your own good and for those around you.
"Get mad, then get over it."
Don't get mad. There's more on anger in the dictionary.
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|ver: 05 August 2012|
Fear, Guilt, Shame, and Anger. Copyright © 2011-2012 by Robert Longman.