Fear: How To Change The Way We View It

Thursday July 21

Fear is an emotion, triggered by the threat of danger or pain. When we are scared of something, we pull back and retreat. It’s hard to overcome a fear when the fight or flight response kicks in.

As we advance in society, fear is often linked to the future; fear is not an emotion in the present. Therefore, fear is a prediction, a construction of what that thing may look like.

But what truly is this abstract concept of fear?

In simple terms, we fear fear. That’s potentially oxymoronic, or even pleonastic, but it comes full circle. We fear, for example, spiders or clowns (on surface level), vulnerability or the unknown (on a deeper level). We fear the idea of becoming afraid of something, as we know that feeling, that emotion, is not pleasant.

What if we start to change this narrative?

So often we let fear control us; we live under its rule. We think fear is this parasite and something which we cannot shake. Have you ever conquered a fear, though? If we start to consider fear as a tool and a way to grow and evolve as individuals, we can begin to put aside these ‘fears’.

Fears can tell us a lot about ourselves. We may fear vulnerability in love – being afraid of getting too close to someone in fear of them discovering your flaws, and so you push them away. This tells us more about who we truly are than we could ever find in a simpler emotion like sadness, joy or happiness. We fear getting too close to someone because we have never done it before. Another fear that is too common in today’s world: change. We fear it because we are so used to living in our comfort zones and taking the ‘easy’ path. But haven’t you imagined all that could go right for you if you took that leap of faith, let go of that fear, and jumped into the unknown?

You may have not explored this possibility because fear is controlling you and not allowing you to. Negative thoughts instead take over any chance of thinking like this. Fear drags us down deeper into the hole we have created for ourselves, creating more fears along the way – most commonly the fear of getting out of said hole and changing. Even though we are in a pit of darkness, we fear the light at the end of the tunnel because it’s new, it’s different, it’s scary.

Change is good. Change lets us grow out of fear. There is no true antonym to fear but perhaps can use change as a new coin for its opposite. Fear keeps us safe – and safety and security is number one on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html. It is therefore not surprising that we feel safety and comfort in fear.

We also fear something good happening or success, because then that’s something that can be taken away from us. We fear getting that higher paid job because it might mean moving city or leaving your last job which was safe and comfortable and you have a hoard of friends there, but also because someone else could come along and take that job away or get a better one above you. It’s the idea again of comparison and worrying about other people’s lives. These two things (fear and worry) go hand in hand.

Isn’t it crazy that we complain about the negative and monotonous aspects of our life yet fear changing them into something new and better because it’s different and therefore ‘scary’? Let’s start valuing fear and our hesitations and ‘what ifs’. What if it doesn’t work out? What if it does?

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