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How to Know When Your Fear Becomes Paranoia
by Greg Baker
5/04/2010 / Christian Living
SYMPTOM #1 - YOU BEGIN TO MAKE WILD EXCUSES NOT TO FACE YOUR FEAR
We all have to face our fears. This is a normal part of life. But to make wild excuses so that you don't have to face them is a sure symptom of paranoia.
We have a running joke in our Church with a dear older gentleman who is greatly beloved by us. I often tease him, saying that it will be his turn to preach next week. He always responds with a, "Well, I've got a dentist appointment on that day." What's funny about that is that he doesn't have any teeth-just the false ones.
But that is so like someone who is paranoid. They make these wild and crazy reasons not to do something. They can even make themselves sick so that they have a reason not to face their particular fear.
SYMPTOM #2 - YOU CREATE NEW OBSTACLES SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO FACE YOUR FEAR
In other words, even if someone is willing to take care of an obstacle for you, you will simply come up with another one, and then another one, and then another one, not to face your fear.
A common analogy is two young men deep in a conversation about a girl.
"You ought to ask her out," the first says, all serious and business like.
The second's eyes widen and his gaze turns upon the unsuspecting girl. "No way," he mutters. "She doesn't like me!"
"Yes she does," the first insists. "I talked to her friend."
The second turns slightly pale. "But she wouldn't like me once she got to know me."
"You don't know that. Look, let's go over there. I'll break the ice."
"No! Now's not a good time." He clutches at his stomach. "I'm not feeling so good."
This type of conversation happens all the time. The subject changes, the setting changes, but the paranoia is very real. Someone who is paranoid about rejection will react just as I described him. Take away every obstacle and they'll still come up with one.
SYMPTOM # 3 - YOU IMAGINE PERSECUTION WHERE NONE EXIST OR THE REALITY IS SIGNIFICANTLY LESS THAN YOUR IMAGINATION
Paranoia has its roots in emotions that are best described as aggressively defensive. A paranoid person will imagine slights, insults, dislike, and hatred where none exist. Make a comment on their hair style and they'll take it as some sort of subtle insult. Compliment them on how good of a job they did, and they'll feel threatened.
They worry about things that don't exist. Someone paranoid about driving will imagine that every other driver out there is some sort of diabolical insane person out to crash into him. Or they imagine that they'll crash every time they get behind the wheel as if the car itself was evil or possessed.
Paranoia can take many forms and latch on to many different things.
SYMPTOM #4 - YOUR DECISIONS BECOME CONTRADICTORY, CONFUSING, AND OFTEN ILLOGICAL.
Your excuses and obstacles won't make much sense to other people. Paranoia doesn't allow for clear thinking. Someone who is paranoid uses emotions for every aspect of the decision. In fact, they'll contradict themselves frequently, change their minds, can't seem to make up their minds, will second guess themselves, and justify their actions with faulty logic.
You know you're paranoid when you can't seem to ever make up your mind. You'll start, change your mind, and then change it again. You become so wrapped up in the potential consequences of your decision that you become unable to make it.
These are four of the most common symptoms of paranoia.
If, after reading this, you think this might be you, but then change your mind, then change it again, or you made a dozen excuses as to why this can't possibly be you, or you think that I've written this just to make you feel bad, then you are paranoid.
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