Fear of Suffering Is Worse Than Suffering Itself

· January 27, 2017

Emilio Duro in one of his best-known conferences called “Optimism and Enthusiasm” says that 99% of everything we worry about are things that have never happened to us nor will they ever happen. If we think carefully, it is true, because much of our suffering and its causes are in our brain, and what really happens is that we are afraid to suffer.

Fear is a very human reaction, part of our natural survival instinct, but it sometimes betrays us because it is activated in situations where there is no real danger. It is in these situations where we have to learn to control our fears.

“Everything you’ve always wanted is on the other side of fear.”

-George Adair-

We tend to suffer more by the thought of suffering. Many people fear loving or falling in love, for fear of suffering later, and hide behind a shield without realizing that in this way they cannot be themselves, or know love.

How fear in our brain works

To find out how fear works in the brain, an experiment was conducted by scientists at the Center for Mental Health at the University of Texas at Dallas (USA). It included 26 adults (19 women and 7 men) between the ages of 19 and 30.

word fear

The experiment consisted of 224 participants who were shown random images, among which there were real images (divided into images of danger and pleasant situations) and unreal images without any indicator to differentiate the images of the two categories.

The participants were asked to push a button with the right index finger when they saw a real photo and to press another button with the right middle finger when they saw unrealistic photos and the results were measured by electroencephalography.


“Cowardice ages us more than time, the years only wrinkle the skin, but fear wrinkles the soul.”

-Facundo Cabral-

The results of the electroencephalogram revealed that the threatening images caused an early increase in activity of theta waves in the occipital lobe (the area of the brain where visual information is processed).

To continue, it produced increased theta activity in the frontal lobe (where higher mental functions such as decision making and planning occur). Likewise, an increase was also identified in beta waves in motor behavior.

Therefore, based on the above, it was concluded that the brain prioritizes threatening information over other cognitive processes and the experiment shows how this process happens in the brain.

Choose to stop being afraid of suffering

To stop being afraid of suffering there are no magic formulas, there is no way we can stop suffering and forget everything. However, there are certain reflections we can do and that will help us to let go of that fear that is so irrational at times.

Woman in Boat

Choosing not to fear means managing our emotions and not letting them overpower us, knowing ourselves and choosing to be at peace with ourselves. To do this it is important to go through a process in which we reflect on what we feel and why we feel it.

Identify suffering

To combat the fear of suffering, it is essential that we do not to fall into denial and are aware of what we suffer from. To achieve an objective view, we can look at ourselves and realize what we think, how we think and what we do.

But besides that inner observation, external observation is necessary. Look at your body and see what it is trying to convey. It is about asking: what is your body telling you? Listen to your body and identify that suffering.

Choose to stop suffering

Once the internal and external analysis of ourselves has been achieved, it’s time to choose to stop suffering. To do this, we can begin to stop the negative thoughts we usually have such as: “I can’t beat this,” “I deserve it”, “I do not have time”, “It’s not worth it”.

“A drop of pure courage is worth more than a cowardly ocean.”

-Miguel Hernández-

suffering woman sitting by the sea

Along with these negative thoughts, it is also important to overcome limiting beliefs that we usually have rooted like “suffering for love is the greatest way to show true love”. Letting go of negative thoughts and limiting beliefs is an essential step so that we are not invaded with suffering and choose happiness.

Express what you feel

It is common to fear suffering and also be afraid to externalize it for fear of what other people might think, but to express our deepest fears is what makes us brave and honest with others and ourselves.

Saying what we feel and naming our fears requires great courage, but we will break down the barriers that limit us and free ourselves of the weight of what makes us suffer and does not allow us to enjoy all the beauty there is in life.

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