Definition of Fear
What is fear?
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” In his post, Niles said that fear is “is an emotional response induced by a perceived threat, which causes a change in brain and organ function, as well as in behavior.” Fear causes or induces a reaction, and people react to it differently depending on several factors. Everyone has their set of fears or things as well as situations or people who make us fear. While some people prefer hiding or wishing away their fears, others often opt to face their fears and to confront it. As we grow older, our fears evolve as well. As young children, most people fear things such as darkness, getting scowled, the clown, etc. However, as we grow older, these change to bigger things which directly impact our, lives and drive us to act in certain ways. Fear drives people to do different things, and we are often warned that if we let it, it can control a great aspect of our life. This article will simply elucidate on the fundamentals of fear, investigate why people fear and also offer a detailed explanation of the negative consequences of fear.
Is fear exciting?
Why do people watch horror movies or even go on roller coasters? Some would say it is because they are not afraid. However, as already stated, everyone is afraid and therefore, the above reason is baseless.
According to Layton (2017), “Many people enjoy being afraid — the arousal that comes with the fight-or-flight response can be pleasurable and can even mimic sexual arousal.” Layton notes that there is scientific evidence to support her claims. In his article, Korb (2014) echoes the sentiments of Layton but adds that fear often turns into excitement especially when one can predict the fear. For example on the roller coaster, one always knows the ride is about to start or knows that they will have a ride a day or two or even a week prior. Therefore, this fear can be transformed into excitement as well. Korb adds that “There is very little physiological difference between fear and excitement.” He continues to state that “if you learn to anticipate fearful situations then you actually activate the nucleus acumens, which is the reward center of the limbic system. Thus knowing you’re about to be scared is actually somewhat enjoyable.” The truth is fear like excitement activates the hypothalamus. However, Korb warns that this does not necessarily mean people like fear but that they like predictability or predictable fear. Therefore, fear is indeed exciting but only in certain instances.
Why do people fear?
People fear because of several reasons. While events from the past could trigger some fears, others could be induced by what we do not know. Below are some reasons which try to explain why people fear:
- Because they do not know. People like to know where they are going, the outcome of some things as well as how certain things tend to be the way they are. However, knowing everything is an impossibility, and this induces fear in some people. For example, in business, taking risks is normal, and businessmen are always expected to consider their options. However, regardless of the projections made, there is always the possibility of things going sour. The unknown variables here weighs a person down and for some businessmen especially the ones who are conservative this often translates to fear.
- People like to be in control of things, and it is human nature to want to know what the future holds. However, the uncertainty and unpredictability of life often means that we get to experience things anew. Each day comes with its own set of challenges, and this uncertainty often causes some of us to fear.
- Lack of experience. People also fear because of lack of experience. Lack of experience means merely one is new to something or has never been involved in an activity. This can indeed be a reason why people fear. When people do not know things, they tend to steer clear because they fear to make their limits known.
Negative consequences of fear
Being afraid is not a bad thing, and one should not feel bad about it. It is indeed normal to fear. However, one needs to be in control of their life and actions or else they could become puppets of the things they fear. Fear can have some adverse negative aspects, and some are as listed below:
- Fear of any authority. Authority represents any sort of power that is before or above you. It could be the government or even your boss. While fear in certain instances could be good, in others, it could send the wrong message. Your boss will not be thrilled with your fearful behavior if, for example, he wanted to offer you a promotion.
- Increased anxiety. When you fear something, you tend always to steer clear of it. However, as is always the case, steering clear never works all the time, and one will be forced to face their fears. For some people, the idea of facing one’s fears is quite scary and always makes one anxious especially because of the unknown variables.
- Reduced productivity. When you think of your fears more and try to change yourself to be in a better position to handle them, you tend to ignore other important aspects of your life. For example, you could be obsessed with trying to improve your image while neglecting your duties and roles. Some people especially students or teenagers could be trying to fit in certain groups while neglecting their studies which majorly impairs their progress. Therefore, while it is normal to fear or be afraid of some things in life, it is essential to know when to take control because your productivity could suffer severely.
- Relationship setbacks. Fear can also affect your close relationships and lead to painful breakups. When you constantly fear the unknown or keep doubting yourself, you will indeed end up affecting your relationships. In life, we will never have all the answers or even be close to having enough. However, when your fear overwhelms you, values like trust (key in holding relationships together) will be difficult to handle or comprehend as you will always anticipate the worst.
Sadhguru (2013) said, “Fear is simply because you are not living with life, you are living in your mind.” He continues to state that “Fear is a product of a hallucinatory mind.” This means people often fear that which is created in their brains. People need to understand that they can make plans for their future or tomorrow but living in their tomorrow or future will simply make them live in fear. Therefore, strive to live today and not in your plans or aspirations.
- Korb, A. (2014). Predictable Fear. Psychology Today. Retrieved December 30, 2017 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201410/predictable-fear
- Layton, J. (2017). How fear works. Retrieved December 30, 2017 from https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/fear3.htm
- Niles, A. (2014). What is Fear? Psychology Today. Retrieved December 30, 2017 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/recovery-road/201405/what-is-fear?amp
- Sadhguru. (2013). What is Fear and How to Overcome Fear. Sadhguru. Retrieved December 30, 2017 from isha.sadhguru.org/blog/sadhguru/masters-words/how-to-overcome-fear/