What is Fear?

“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.”  Buddha

To rise above your fears, it first helps to understand what fear is.  Fear is is a sense of foreboding, apprehension, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, or trepidation.  It’s a feeling!

There are two basic kinds of fear stimuli:

  1. Environmental Fears pose a direct physical threat to the perceiver.  Environmental fears are therefore considered rational.
  2. Psychological Fears pose no direct physical threat and are therefore considered irrational.

Psychological fears is prevalent in society and are the fears most people face daily.  Here is a Top Ten List of Psychological Fears plus some Descriptions:

#10 Losing your Freedom
#9  The Unknown
#8  Fear of Pain
#7  Disappointment
#6  Misery
#5  Loneliness
#4  Ridicule
#3  Rejection
#2  Death
#1  Failure

Losing your freedom:  This fear might start with the time you were grounded in your room by yourself without the possibility of leaving until you finished your homework. Later it could manifest into something much more powerful, such as a fear of commitment to marriage.

The Unknown:  The mind tells us that in order to move forward, we must know what is ahead of us.  If you know, then you can control the situation and if you don’t know, then you are not in control”.   This might start as a child being afraid of what’s in the darkness and can later make it much harder to discover and understand new things and new situations.

Pain: The rejection of pain is caused because we associate physical pain with illness and bad health, in general. This fear can be linked with the fear of losing your freedom.

Disappointment:  The fear of disappointment is linked with avoiding the unknown.  It’s that feeling of dissatisfaction when our expectations do not match what actually happened. Disappointment is often followed by regret and wondering, “Did I do the right thing?”

Fear of Misery:  Fear of misery is linked with our fear of poverty and not having enough to fulfill our basic human needs.  We all know that the worst of human actions come out of the desperation caused by misery.  Fear of reaching this low point of existence causes us to respond extremely well to advertising that preaches buying more things than we actually need.

Fear of Loneliness: The fear of being alone and feeling empty evolved from an early survival instinct.  It was more likely that we would survive if we lived in group.  Fear of loneliness is also related to the fear of doing something and having no one notice.

Fear of Rejection: This social fear largely dictates most peoples’ actions.  We tend to (sometimes blindly) follow the actions of others, because it helps us avoid dealing with rejection from society.  Fear of rejection is linked to the fear of being alone.  Many people justify their existence through the acknowledgement and acceptance of others.  They look for meaning outside themselves rather than inside.

Fear of Death: The fear of death is linked to the fear of pain and the unknown.  Most people don’t have any idea what will happen to them when they leave this world therefore dread death and the pain leading to that death.

Fear of Failure:  This fear rules most of peoples’ actions and decisions. We’ll do almost anything to avoid failure.  Failure is different things to different people.  It is a realization.  Perhaps you don’t live your life the way you wanted to, you are not succeeding in your plans, or you’ve found yourself hitting rock-bottom, by your own definition.  Failure is linked with disappointment and the feeling that despite your effort, nothing seemed to go as you wished, and you might not even want to try again. That is why fear of failure is the worst fear of all and often used as an excuse to procrastinate, or not do anything to make situations better – “why bother?” and “I’m just not good enough”.

Further Information:

How to Release Your Fears
Diamond Lantern: Fearful situations as lessons

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”  Bertrand Russell


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