• Sandra Mendelson

What can a Bat Teach Us About Human Fear and Anxiety?



“Do you know me? Probably not. We creatures of the night have a haze, a mystique around us that causes a flutter of fear and dread. We represent the unknown—what can’t be seen coming around the bend. I’m not even talking vampire myths or the fear of getting a bat stuck in your hair. Go deeper than that: into dreams and nightmares and the imagined underworld. Animals do not have such fear myths. Whether we live in the light of day or thrive at night, we don’t fear the unknown. We are always here and now, and if adversity arises, we deal with it as we must. I really fear nothing.

“Animals who have predators that chase them have an elaborate system of signals, alerts and warnings; for the one in the pack that gets caught, it was time, karma, or they were on the verge of becoming infirm and were saved from a long, slower suffering death.

“Animals in the wild don’t know anxiety. We do not stow ourselves away from each other and leave ourselves without resources. So many human mental issues occur because of this. Around and around they go in their own heads with a dark thought or idea spinning ever larger like a stick of cotton candy, when all they had to do was shift focus onto someone else or talk it out.

“Humans fear imaginary things like monsters under the bed. They concoct stories of the future, of what might happen, and most of the time it never does—not even a close facsimile. They fear sickness, pain, old age and death. These things never enter our consciousness. No wonder you humans take so much medicine to sleep and to avoid feeling. You petrify your own insides with fear, and then you need more medicines to get your parts to work! Ninety-nine percent of the time there is nothing bad actually going on—it is all made up! I want to tell people so often: stop. Breathe. Look around you. You are really OK. You’re still here and standing. Put away the pills and take a walk in the woods instead. Feel the vibration there as it rights your brain. Let it pull you back and heal you.”