The fear of people

Hannah possesses a voice that can lull even angels to sleep. She has that quality of voice that soothes the tired senses, and makes one feel relaxed and at ease. However, her audience has yet to hear Hannah sing as she does not have the guts to do it in public.

She tried it once, when she was still in high school but it caused her shame and pain. She can never forget that incident as she stood on the stage, holding the mike, without any voice coming out from her. She was ready all right, but the sight of all those people looking at her made her voice disappear.

Ever since that humiliating experience, Hannah has never had the chance to sing in front of people again. Not that she lacked opportunities; it's just that she could not do it, not in front of an audience. Her fear of performing in public has incapacitated her for life, or so she thought.

Fear is a strong emotion which is often caused by the knowledge of a lurking danger. It is actually a person's reaction to an actual or perceived danger to one's self. Sometimes, a person's fear serves as a defense mechanism.

It is believed that fear is usually hereditary, as in the case of a child who may have inherited certain biological traits from his parents. Such traits may have an effect on how a person's brain chemicals regulate a person's moods and how he reacts to stimulations that may cause fear. A person's present fears will also depend on her parents' behavior particularly on how cautious they were, or how they reacted to danger.

Fear can be classified into many degrees but the most popular and common are phobia, panic and terror. Phobia is an irrational and exaggerated fear of a particular situation or object. Panic is usually characterized by a hysterical reaction to a certain stimulus. Terror, on the other hand, is the greatest degree of fear, usually causing a person to become immobilized.

A person's fear of other people is called Anthropophobia while fear of people in general or fear of society is called Sociophobia. A person who regularly experiences anxiety or discomfort in the presence of other people may have this phobia. People who have this phobia are still able to lead normal lives but they tend to avoid social events. It is also commonly manifested in what we call stage fright or fear of performing in front of an audience.

A person who becomes frightened will have sweaty palms, feel butterflies in his stomach, experience a drying of the throat and mouth and start to have panic attacks. Such fear can have serious effects on a person's family life and career. A person who is frightened, and who has no control over his fears, looses his freedom to act.

Fear of people may be a manifestation of a person's shyness or lack of confidence in meeting other people. A shy person avoids meeting people because he feels he is inferior to them. A person who has no confidence in himself may fear meeting people whom he perceives are greater or more able than him.

There is a semblance of normalcy in fearing other people. It is normal to fear people who have more power in their hands, or people who may have moral ascendancy over you. It is also normal to fear performing in front of an audience especially if you are not used to being the center of attention.

While most of these fears are normal, a person should not let these fears take over his personality. A person should acknowledge that he has these fears, and should do things to overcome such fears. Or else, he will forever be incapacitated by his fears.

If you fear meeting people in general, then try going out in public more often. Try the malls, they offer people from all walks of life. Try to talk to the sale ladies or to other customers who seem friendly to you. Talk about anything, comment on the weather, the recent news or other community affairs.

You can also start relating to people in your community because you will be more comfortable talking to them. Try to talk one new person each day until you develop the habit of greeting people you encounter in the streets. A simple good morning is enough to help you combat your shyness. Take little steps and gradually experiment on speaking with groups of people.

DO not let your shyness overpower you. You may have fears but other people are not exactly fear-less. What is important is you acknowledge your fears and you do something to overcome them.