Fear is a natural yet an unpleasant and often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. It is natural because it helps people recognize and respond to dangerous situations and threats and thereby becomes a protective function. This is healthy fear which often evolves into unhealthy or pathological fear, which can lead to exaggerated and violent behavior.
Why should I be aware of this?
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- It is important to know that we always have a choice about how to respond to and deal with fear.
- We have several ways to deal with fear. We can cave into it, struggle with it, accept it, or work around it.
- While it is important to be aware of potential and real threats, it is just as important to react appropriately to them.
- For most of us, the initial response subsides as soon as we realize that there is no actual threat or danger.
- Overcoming our negative reactions to fear is an important part of becoming a better person.
- Because of fear we are unable to assert ourselves and persuades us to settle for what we get instead of going after what we want.
- In our efforts to calm our fears we develop unhealthy habits and behavior problems.
- Because of fear we often give up just one step short of our goal
How does this affect me?
When we have unreasonable fear or when fear gets out of control, it can escalate to a point where it affects our daily functioning. Fear is unhealthy when we find we are constantly afraid of events that haven’t happened yet
Irrational fear prevents us from experiencing life in its fullest as we spend most of our mind resources on it and you can hardly set our focus on other aspects of life. Irrational fears not only distract people from pleasures of life but can also cripple one’s mind in extreme cases.
All about fear
Fear gives rise to the belief that we have no power to change the situation. It gives rise to pessimism and despair and we lose our way and become obsessed with our own defenses and lack the willingness to let in new ways of thinking and being.
Fear, panic and anxiety
Fear of the future is known as anxiety. Fear takes place when the danger arises, while anxiety is apprehension because we don’t know what’s going to happen next, and we cannot control upcoming events.
Fear when there is in fact nothing to be afraid of is known as panic. Many people are familiar with this type of fear and it is often accompanied by a phobia. Panic, which is an immediate physical response to unrealistic and irrational fears, can have a huge effect on both the emotional and physical well-being of people affected by it.
Biologically, during fear certain areas in the brain such as the amygdala and the hypothalamus get instantly activated and appear to control the first physical response to fear. The next round of physical reactions results in:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Tightening of muscles
- Sharpened or redirected senses
- Dilation of the pupils (to let in more light)
- Increased sweating
These are caused by release of chemicals such as adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol.
What can I do?
Identify your fear
In majority of the cases we act on our fears unconsciously so the first step in dealing with fear is to stop and ask ourselves what are we afraid of. The process of honest identification often takes away some of the power of unhealthy fear.
Face your fears
Rather than avoiding what you are afraid of, facing fear is another way of taking away the power of unhealthy fear. Facing what you fear allows you to claim your ability to do something constructive about the situation.
Replace fear with faith
Always react in a situation with faith, rather than with unhealthy fear.
- What is Fear?
- The Effects of Fear