• Nikita Vyas

Fear of Freedom or Freedom of Fear? - 8 Journal prompts

Fear by nature is attractive, mysterious and charismatic. We resent it, of course but we’re also drawn toward its dark allure. I’d hate to label fear as bad or evil. I don’t really know what else to call it apart from calling it an emotion. It is an emotion. It’s a feeling. How do you label it? How do you see fear?

Its an emotion that has the power to cage our happiness. It takes us to a place where we feel hopeless and helpless quite effortlessly. Our minds and body seem to go into a sort of freeze. It’s a powerful emotion and a force that can shape the foundation of our beliefs and at the same time tests our faith. It’s a common emotion, behaviour, feeling and thought. Even though it may seem uncontrollable and unpredictable, we have the capacity and the gift to understand it and manage it.

Come to think of it, fear is also looking for a way out, a way to be free, a way to experience happiness and light. It appears to me a messenger instead of a threat. A guide instead of the doom. Just a four-letter word and yet envelopes so many minute sub-fears.

Fear of Judgement

Fear of Love

Fear of Loss

Fear of Uncertainty

Fear of the past

Fear of the future

Fear of Living

Fear or failure

Fear of success

Fear of shame

Fear of Comparison

Fear of Rejection

The list can keep going on and on…

Yes, fear is very real. Yes, it also manifests into anxiety, frustration, stress, negativity, guilt and so much more. I don’t deny that the feeling of fear, that the emotion fear doesn’t exist or its in our minds. Looking at a snake or a lion the fear of being harmed is quite real, as a result you’re not going to pet it but admire it from afar.

There’s a term that is closely related to fear, called “Negativity Bias” perhaps that is how we are so susceptible to fear. Studies (Carpaccio & Berntston, 1999; Vaish et al., 2008; Normal et al., 2011) talk about this bias stemming from the time of evolution of man where the first men, assuming during the stone age, had to survive environmental threats. Hearing a sound or unusual noise would set them on alert and they would prepare themselves even before an imminent threat. Being so conscious about these negative stimuli helped in survival back in the stone age however it slowly made way in our lives as well as we share our DNAs with these early men, our ancestors, so to speak.

If this study is to be taken into account then fear is also a behaviour that we learn and unlearn from time to time. It depends on the negative stimuli that we either face or assume is to come. Our brains are wired to attract to fear more easily. It activates within us what is called as a fight or flight response. Upon facing this fear, we either try to understand it and challenge it (do it anyway) or we turn away and step down. It’s also interesting to note that this response is not just emotional or mental but also physical. Certain neurotransmitters are responsible which are released during our bodies stress response. Perhaps the reason you experience an increased heartbeat, lump in the throat, sweaty palms or body, excessive heat, icy fingertips, feeling of puking, excessive anger/rage etc.,

It’s quite common for people to tell me they would like to free themselves from fear. It’s not wrong to want that, on the contrary is human. No one wants to live in fear all their lives. But if we were to take away the feeling of fear, you might do something that could potentially harm you such as pet the lion withou