During those uncertain times and among everything that is happening in the world, I believe plenty of people are suffering from anxiety, especially young ones. I, personally, dealt with fear for the past years. That emotion can range from as simple as a small worry to as big as being frightened. For me, it was something in between, but It started to affect my actions and behaviour. I found myself acting insecurely weird for no real reason. Once I noticed that this emotion is taking control over my life, I decided to understand it and learn the reasons/triggers behind it, so I can control fear and regain ownership over my life.
What is Fear?
Starting with a simple google search, Fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” Let’s take a deeper look into how philosophers define fear. In his book Rhetoric, Aristotle identified fear as “a sort of pain or agitation derived from the imagination (phantasia) of a future destructive or painful evil”. As for the father of mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh, “Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvellously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” Epictetus mentioned that “It is we who torment, we who make difficulties for ourselves—that is, our opinions do.”
Sources of Fear
Based on the definitions, It can be inferred that fear resides always in the imagination of the future. Future uncertainties leave room for scenarios creation. Elaborating negative scenarios nurture the emotion of fear as it leads us to live in the future possibility and assume it as certain. Where do those scenarios come from? The answer is simple. Those scenarios are based on past experience or knowledge. We can only fear what we know to be a possibility. Following and reading tragic news such as harassment, failures, or accidents sticks in our unconscious. In an uncertain time, that news emerges to the surface and become the foundation of our negative scenarios. If we take a look into the children’s behaviour. They have more courage to try new things compared to adults. Their courage comes from their inability to assess bad/harmful possibilities, and that’s due to their lack of awareness.
Grounding to control fear
By looking at the above framework, we can notice that the only time frame where fear doesn’t exist is in the present. Why? Because the present is certain. We are feeling and living it, therefore there is no room for imagination. Referring back to Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote mentioned previously, He emphasizes that fear doesn’t exist in the present. In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle explained, in length, the importance of remaining in the present as it evokes human consciousness. Staying grounded helps us to control fear among other emotions, allow us to enjoy the moment and enable us to make rational decisions. Therefore, we should train ourselves to remain grounded in order to increase our level of consciousness and gain ownership over our life.
Is Fear always bad?
No, Fear has both negative and positive outcomes! Being controlled by fear to the point that affects our health, relationships and life negatively is a negative outcome of fear, but being fearless is not the solution as fear is part of human nature. On the other hand, fear helped humanity develop through the years. It might work as a motivator to breakthrough or make a massive positive change. In the upcoming post, we will dive deeper into fear outcomes.