Fear is the worst disease you can contract, the most debilitating of all. It moves faster than the speed of light. It targets the mind and the heart. It amputates and cripples like a weapon, it leaves you petrified and trapped, it can make your heart stop beating or feeling. It awakens the primal instinct of self-survival.
Fear is one of the basic human emotions and can lead to unforeseeable behaviors and reactions.
There is no light in fear. Fear breeds anger, hate, envy and guilt. It is the only emotion that exposes us in all our ‘nakedness’ and brings us face to face with our disturbing weaknesses. Fears breeds guilt.
Fear nurtures idleness and inertia. It forces us to destroy others and, most importantly, to destroy ourselves. Of course, none of us admits to being afraid. We tend to avoid bearing the label of fear. Instead, we prefer to bear labels that read ‘absolute’, ‘bossy’, ‘strict’ or any other adjective that is supposed to define our character according to current trends. Fear is a monster that is born when we are born.
When it comes to workplace bullying, fear is the engine for countless different reactions. It has the capacity to turn a straight line into a circle. If you decide to walk within a circle, the route is always the same, you can’t experience any change of scene. Since each circle has an inescapable pattern, the pattern becomes a habit and the habit becomes a rule, an institution – regardless of its quality. Then, in most cases, we ‘accept’ this circular route and follow it even if it is fraught with deadly traps that threaten our very existence.
The fear of disclosure of their professional inadequacies or the potential loss of vested interests and benefits constitutes a strong incentive for employees who resort to workplace bullying. If this is combined with the bully’s mental instability and other personal reasons, workplace bullying increases in intensity.
Fear leads to the formation of small groups that come together in the belief that the bully can harm them if they don’t lend him/her their support. There are cases when members of these groups actually ‘do the dirty job’ on behalf of the bully. Sometimes, these groups may believe that the targeted employee poses a threat to them as well.
The fear of job loss is, to a great extent, what makes employees put up with workplace bullying. Here, we have to stress a paradox: It is bullying that actually leads to job loss, whether you choose to resign or get dismissed. You learn to live with feelings of fear and anxiety that can be likened to that of someone who has received the death penalty and don’t know when they will be executed. This way the employee remains in a constant state of limbo which, in turn, makes him feel even more intimidated: Targeted employees become overwhelmed with fear and this fear is not restricted to the time they spend at their workplace. Inevitably, fear leads to low self-esteem, inability to take initiative and depression.
Fear causes fear and this, mathematically, leads to the onset of disease. Fear results in the collapse of internal structures, whether we talk about an individual, an employee, a company or an organization.
It cannot be denied that it is impossible to eliminate the feeling of fear. There is no man who is not afraid and it would be pointless to go against human nature.
However, there is something we have to do if we care for our wellbeing. The answers lie within us and we have to find them. After all, we are all afraid of drowning but that doesn’t stop us from learning how to swim. Why does it have to be different when it comes to our work and life?