Although fear may seem to have many causes, it is said that the primary underlying cause is fear of death. Fear of death is a fear of bringing something to an end. That “something” comes in many disguises. Some of the disguises you may be familiar with are fear of being wrong, fear of not being good enough, fear of not measuring up to someone else’s expectations, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, fear of the unknown. Fear of change can be due to the sadness of saying goodbye and leaving someone or something behind, as well as fear of the unknown future looming ahead after the loss.
There are certainly situations in life that justify a fear response. In those cases it is a good thing that our adrenaline pumps and we are given the energy to fight or flee. In those cases we are prepared to do what is needed to get out of harm’s way and return to safety. Once safety returns our natural balancing mechanism brings us back to a neutral state.
The problem comes when this same fear response is activated by things that are not life threatening. In our present culture it is not unusual for this natural self-protective mechanism to be overly sensitized and active. This can result in a sense of chronic anxiety and tension or a hair trigger response to the smallest stimuli. All that fascinating fight/ flight/freeze physiology has been activated and has nowhere to go as it is not used up in the effort to regain safety. As a result our fear deepens and limits our daily lives.
When this occurs there tends to be an emotional paralysis or overload that happens which is accompanied by an inability to think clearly and make good decisions and choices. When our systems are thus set in motion we can feel as if we are under a threat to our lives; it all feels that important as our neurology and biochemistry rocks and rolls within causing us to feel out of control. We have all had that feeling that our minds know that our reactions are over the top but that knowing seems useless to calm our emotions.
It takes energy to move beyond fear. We must go to a level other than the cognitive to alleviate fear and anxiety.
Tomorrow—moving beyond fear.