What Can You Learn From Fear?


By Jayaram V

Fear is wired into our minds. It is the most dominating emotion. Anxiety, worry, panic, alarm, dread, terror, etc., are a few well-known feelings which are commonly recognized as different forms or intensities of fear. We cannot take fear out of our minds or our thinking. It is not even a good option because fears are part of our survival mechanism and essential for our wellbeing and safety. However, we must deal with irrational fears that prevent us from being effective or in control of our lives. The following are a few important facts about fears.

1. Many fears are learned: We learn fears from experience, observation, from our parents and peers, or due to religious or cultural influences. Some of these fears are genuine and grounded in reality. It is however necessary to subject them to reason and reality check and discard those that are irrational or superstitious.

2. We tend to exaggerate our fears: The fear of what may happen is far more disturbing than the situation that causes the fear. We habitually tend to exaggerate the outcome of fears and in the process become paralyzed by them, and do not think much about resolving them through rational choices.

3. Our fears are misplaced: Our fears depend upon our perception and our ability to weigh situations. Since we are not always good at being objective, we often fear what we should not, and do not fear what we should consider a serious threat to our wellbeing. For example, more people are afraid of ghosts, snakes, spiders, and evil spirits than the possibility of death due to heart disease, smoking, or automobile accidents.

4. We can change our responses to fears: We can relearn and reprogram ourselves in healthier ways to deal with our most common fears. It can be done by disputing our fears with reason, through visualization and affirmations. Understanding the causes of our fears is important in this regard.

5. Fear influences our social intelligence: Fear of ridicule, disapproval, criticism, and enmity plays an important role in our social behavior, relationships and how we express ourselves. It is true that fear prevents many people from being effective or assertive which can be disadvantageous in a competitive world.

6. Fear increases with responsibility: We may fear more when our actions and decisions involve other people, which may directly influence their safety and wellbeing. For example, many people lead carefree lives until their marriage. Once they are married and have children, they become more cautious and careful about their actions and lifestyles.

7. Some fears are universal: The fears that are common and universal are the fear of death, fear of injury, fear of loss, fear of separation, fear of failure, and fear of disrepute or infamy. Human behavior is mostly guided by these basic fears

8. We fear what we cannot control: Our fears are directly related to what we can or cannot control. Since we do not have control over many situations in life and over others, we frequently experience fear. When we perceive that a situation may threaten our wellbeing or peace of mind, we start worrying about it until we find a solution. It is therefore necessary to build good relationships and rapport with others so that when a situation is beyond our control we can seek help from others.

9. Fear can motivate us to perform better: Fear can paralyze many people into inaction, apathy or loss of hope. However, in some cases it can bring out the best in humans and prompt them to rise up to the occasion. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of public humiliation can motivate people to exceed their expectations, push themselves beyond their limits, and achieve peak performance.

Fearlessness is not the absence of fear, but a temporary relief from the feeling of fear. It may happen when the mind is focused on resolution of fear or when it suffers from a temporary loss of touch with reality. Courage is also defined by some as not the opposite of fear, but the ability to act despite fear. As humans we can gather strength and rise up to the occasion to deal with our fears, even though they may be seemingly frightening. While we may not successfully resolve all fears, we can manage to control most of them with knowledge, experience, intelligence and resolve.

Jayaram V is the Founder President of Hinduwebsite.com, Author of Think Success, Being the Best, and several other books and hunreds of articles on various subjects of spiritual and religious subjects.