Fear is essential for our survival, especially during infancy. It’s one of our earliest and most fundamental emotions. We first feel a fear of abandonment. This subsides if we are not abandoned and grow up in a secure environment during our vulnerable childhood years. Fear of rejection is also part of a fear of abandonment. Most of our fears are rooted in a fear of death because if we are abandoned, we cannot survive. Today, with most people not having to fear death, our fears surface in the form of powerlessness or loss of control. We’re simply afraid of what we cannot control.
Fear of the unknown is also inherent in humanity. We cannot control the unknown and this fear brings insecurity. We don’t feel secure in an unpredictable and out of control world. We have a natural negativity bias. A tendency to remember the negative. This is good for survival as well, as we don’t want to make the same mistakes twice. With pain constantly on our radar, how can we expect not to be scared?
Fear and pain are similar. Many develop a fear of fear, which results in not living at all. We take zero risk, stop exploring, and stop challenging ourselves and growing. It’s a vicious circle. You don’t lose fear by not living. You simply stay scared. Being courageous, that is, acting in spite of fear, reduces it. It’s a paradox: the more we face our fears, the less afraid we become. The less power fear will have over us.
To be human is to have fear. This does not mean you are weak or powerless. Fear is only a feeling. What you do in spite of you fear is how you are defined. Accept your fear without judgment and keep pushing forward. Life will open up to you.
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