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October 22, 2012

Lisa Madras: I just don’t have the fear mongering gene, I’m afraid

NEW CASTLE — When do I make people afraid of me?

I almost didn't ask this question because it's one that I REALLY don't want to ask myself. For that reason alone, though, it has to be asked.

I hate the thought of anyone being scared of me. One of my main directives in life (although this isn't exactly healthy, either) is to make as many people as possible like me and feel comfortable around me. I'm sure I have a few people out there who would argue against this, but I'm speaking in generalities here. For the most part, invoking fear is not my prerogative.

Or so I believed.

I've gotten crapola over the years because I don't instill fear in my kids, and from the way it sounds, fear mongering is the most popular and acceptable parenting method. No offense, but I missed that lesson somewhere along the way. What's more, I'm not really interested in learning it.  Sorry.

I don't make people afraid of me to get what I want at a store or in a restaurant, either. I've seen this practice all too often, and while I admit that I've had to hold myself back on occasion when dealing with a particularly difficult employee, I would never make it a regular practice like some people do either.

I taught pre-school for 10 years, and, you guessed it, I couldn't do it then. Yep, 10 long years of letting 20 four-year-olds run over me like a Tonka Truck on a playmat. Fear might have been in my best interest on some days, but I just never had it in me. How do you look at a person one-eighth your size and feel right in your heart for instilling fear in theirs? I just couldn't do it.

And with that self-serving, egotistical pat on the back out of the way, now I've got to face the hard truth: There ARE people who are afraid of me, and it's because, intentionally or not, I've made them feel that way.

If I look closely at my methodology, I notice that it's those I consider myself to be in a position of power over that I WON'T try to intimidate — children, people doing their jobs for the public, the elderly — basically anyone I consider less powerful than me.

But upon closer inspection, it turns out that anyone with power over ME is fair game for a dose of intimidation. Come at me with a knife, and I will put you in the morgue. (Figuratively speaking of course!) I've had my fair share of power struggles with bosses, school principals, significant others, and an assorted variety of authority figures. I don't think I consciously try to intimidate these people, either. It's more of a puffer fish phenomenon, if you will.

"Look at me! I'm big and scary, so you can't hurt me!"

I'm not totally sure what it is I hope to find out by asking myself this question, but I thought it was super-interesting. It really makes me wonder how many people are afraid of me in some regard. To whom am I the "monster under the bed?" We all wield power in some way over some people, and feel less powerful than others.

**What do you do with that power, or lack thereof? Who is afraid of you? How does that make you feel?

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