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 without protection. Certain assumptions of fear help us differentiate between acceptable and not acceptable, harmful and safe, they protect us. Whether in our personal lives, our relationships, professional lives or in general help us become aware and cautious.
There is a way to calm the nerves and eventually navigate through the feeling of fear in order to take the next step, to do what you desire, overcome challenges.
Main ways to deal with this fear is –
The mindfulness techniques of breathing, meditation etc.,
Becoming self-aware of your emotions and negative chatter/pattern
Re-framing the mindset
Positivity techniques of gratitude, affirmations etc.,
One of the techniques that seem to combine it all is the writing therapy also known as Journaling. Its one of the most pleasant forms of becoming self-aware, bringing in positivity, being mindful as well as re-framing thoughts.
Fear is a big emotion and needs to be dealt with a lot of care, patience and love. It won’t help to resent it or want to try to get rid of it.
Here are some Journal Prompts that you can spend time with. I used this as a spread for a few clients who wanted to understand their fear, I hope this will also benefit you.
What according to you is the fear that holds you back?
Why do you think you’ve been holding onto this fear?
Where do you think this fear has come from, the cause?
In what way can you face this fear?
Why has this feeling of fear come right now?
What is this fear trying to teach you?
What words of encouragement do you need?
What strengths should you rely on, in order to face this fear?
I hope this helps you re-frame the fear that cages you. Give it sometime if you can’t work on it right away or if the answers don’t come right away. Come back to it and let your answers flow.
If you're interested in discussing your fear or relaxing your emotions you can work with me by choosing either of the services I offer -
Don't live in fear or worry about what you fear. Try to understand it and work with it. I can help.