If you’re a little wary of putting strawberries in your fruit salad right now then you’re definitely not alone.
With a spate of needles being discovered in our favourite little fruit around Australia in the last week, it’s likely that strawberries are not your shopping list today.
Like other food scares of our recent past, public hysteria usually follows with fear settling in for a fair while. Scared of illness, or in this case, injury, consumption of strawberries has halted, and will likely return when the perpetrators are caught and consumer confidence grows again.
This heightening of fear will take some time to die down; it might be days, weeks, months or depending on who you are, years. I know some people who are still not looking at frozen berries the same way.
But the human response to these sorts of incidents is always interesting, and of course understandable. With a brain that is quick to protect us, it often takes an all-or-nothing approach to keeping us safe. Instead of cutting up the strawberries we have and just checking them, we avoid them like the plague. On writing this, I believe that 10 strawberries have been found to have been tampered with nationally, whilst millions (of likely perfectly fine ones) have been dumped and destroyed. An industry has been shattered.
No, you don’t want to bite into a needle whilst enjoying a piece of fruit. But whenever we are presented with information that threatens us, either physically or mentally, our emotions turn to fear (sense turns off) and we tend to ‘overprotect’. We do it not only with contaminated fruit, but plane crashes, volcanos and terror plots. Our behaviour goes into survival mode and we operate from a place of fear.
But unbeknownst to us, fear plays a huge role in our lives, in fact, it operates it a lot of the time. They can be conscious, like our needle-in-a-strawberry fear, but most of our fears remain largely unconscious, and can fuel a range of emotional conflicts with ourselves and those around us as well as create dilemmas in our life.
Fear can make us avoid all sorts of things. From what we have learned growing up, as well as our own life experience we come to fear illness, fear rejection, fear judgement and fear authority. These are all uncomfortable states to be in, but in avoiding them at all costs, intentionally or not, can lead to anxiety, stop us from having fun, reaching our potential and many times, kill our dreams.
Yes fear keeps us safe and cosy in our comfort zones, but often after a few years in the same mindset, they don’t feel so comfortable anymore. In fact, they become rather uncomfortable, with sometimes regret and resentment kicking in.
Fear changes our behaviour. It stops us not only from being harmed in the now, but it can keep us holding on to that emotion for use in the future.
When it need not be there all the time.
All of our survival mechanisms keep us well protected, safe and comfortable, but sometimes this isn’t how we best operate.
So what should we do if we notice a little too much fear taking over in our lives?
Imagine if you missed out on the something that you truly want to do. Have a think about how you feel later on in life when you look back on not jumping into your idea, or taking the risk. If this doesn’t sound too good, then perhaps thinking of ways to jump into the fear is the best thing for you to do.
If you know you want do something, but fear is getting in the way, then ask yourself why you want to do it. Once you have explored the why behind what you want, it becomes meaningful, and may push you out of ambivalence.
Not all fear are really worth fearing. Not all strawberries need to be feared.
Sometimes you have to cut up the strawberry into tiny pieces, until you feel more comfortable. Sometimes you just have to take a few bites until you feel safe and other time times you just need to shove the whole thing in your mouth.
They always taste better that way anyway.