Fear is as old as we humans are. As long as we can think we fear somebody or something. But why do we suffer from fear? Let’s take a closer look how fear is explained.
What is fear?
“Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response) but in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) a freeze or paralysis response is possible.”
Another explanation on Times of India sees fear as a movement of thoughts:
“Most fears are nothing but movements of thoughts. A thought is a language that we give for words, pictures and feelings. Put in a different way, a thought is just a movement of word, picture and feeling… You interpret a thought in your mind in a language that you are afraid, and you experience fear.”
As you see, there is no right or wrong explanation to “fear”. My definition of fear is this one:
fear is an emotion induced by a perceived or real threat. The different types of fear may have developed during different time periods. Also, the more we humans have learned during our evolutionary past, the more types of fear came up. But…
Why do we suffer from fear? What do we fear?
Or, put in a different way, what are the causes of fear?
#1: We fear the unknown. This can be one answer to our “why do we suffer from fear”. Unknown environment, unknown people, unknown habits can make us feel uncertain and uncomfortable with the situation we’re in and can cause fear.
#2: We fear the thought that someone else or something could get control over our life.
That “someone” can be God Himself, it can be another person or a group of people.
The “something” can be an unexpected situation, but it can be something “techie” as well:
do you remember “Big Brother is watching you”? Or, think about technical innovations:
often, we feel that we just cannot handle them. That can also create fear. Or, just think about the daily requirements in our businesses, about all the technical challenges we have to face day in, day out. You see, all that can cause fear.
#4: We can fear animals: black dogs, spiders, bears, tigers, etc.
#5: We fear terrorist attacks, war, violence.
#6: We fear being alone or being a failure
#7: We fear death – or the process of dying.
Of course, there are many more causes of fear and it is really difficult to answer the question “Why do we suffer from fear?”. Experts say that although fear is learned, the capacity to fear is part of the human nature.
Does fear influence our personal or professional life?
Fear has a huge influence on both, on our personal and on our business life. Let me pick only one example for each area:
- Personal area:
Some people fear intimacy so much that they are not able to build up a solid relationship. They have a strong desire to belong to somebody but at the same time they fear to open up and show their feelings. That’s truly a huge problem these days.
- Professional area:
Have you ever spoken in public? Do you remember how you felt the first minutes on stage with all the people looking at you and waiting for you to start your presentation? For sure,
You see, our question about why do we suffer from fear cannot have a standard answer. Multiple answers are possible but each one of them is unique in itself just like the person who experiences fear.
Let’s close today’s article with this post by Rich Schefren, who says that the only difference between people who succeed and those who struggle is that successful people learn to master their fears. Do you agree or disagree?