Fear Teaches Us About Ourselves

December 25, 2016

Fear is a protective emotion that alerts us to danger. It is an emotion that teaches us something deep about ourselves, and if we know how to identify it, we can conquer it and learn from it.

If you think about all the fears that you’ve harbored and had to face, you must have come to the conclusion that they weren’t that bad. Much of their strength was nothing more than a ghostly apparition, like the house that the little pig made out of straw.

What is fear?

Fear is a reaction of the body and mind towards a situation, animal, or person that we interpret as dangerous or unpleasant. It’s mainly an emotion of survival, as it protects us from risk and danger, but it’s often the case that the danger does not exist, even if you feel afraid all the same.

Fear can become a reaction that limits you in your daily life. Furthermore, it tends to grow when it’s not exposed to reality.

“Only one thing makes dreams impossible: the fear of failure.”

-Paulo Coelho-

girl holding herself with fear

Who are we?

Since we were born, we’ve been living, observing, and experiencing emotions – both pleasant and unpleasant – fear being among them. As a function of experience, fear can develop as a protective mechanism to prevent a previous unpleasant situation from occurring again.

As one of our primary emotions, fear carries with it valuable information about ourselves and all the negative situations that we’ve experienced, that we try to prevent from happening again.

All of our emotions are kept in the subconscious mind, and that’s why we’re not conscious of the information that they contain regarding past experiences.

Facing fear instead of avoiding it

We tend to avoid the situations that we fear so we don’t have another negative experience. But that’s not a good idea, because we won’t learn anything as long as we’re avoiding them. On the contrary, the fear gets much stronger and more resistant to removal.

man in front of a wave

Avoiding fear will only feed it. In our minds, we become smaller and smaller next to it, because it seems to acquire more and more weapons and points of attack. This is not only observed in our degree of fear, but also in how much it conditions our lives.

“Fear is natural in cautious people, and knowing how to conquer it means being brave.”

-Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga-

Eliminate fear and get to know yourself

To beat your fears, there’s no other way than to face them, overcome them, and gain the satisfaction of having done so. In order to confront it, you have to discover something more about yourself. That is, get to know yourself through your fear, its origins, its meaning, and your interpretation of the danger.

girl ignoring her fears

In doing so, you’ll discover abilities in yourself that you never had before, that now make fear unnecessary. You’ll realize that you actually do have the strategies to confront the feared situation, which probably originated in childhood, when you didn’t have any strategies for facing life yet.

On the other hand, in certain resistant fears that you feel incapable of facing, it’s a good idea to consult a specialist. They’ll find the appropriate strategy to help you overcome it.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

-Marie Curie-

Pay attention to your emotions

It’s always interesting to pay attention to your emotions and become aware of the information that’s subconsciously stored in each one of them.

Every emotion helps us to get to know ourselves, because they tell us how we see ourselves, what we like and don’t like, what hurts us and makes us happy, and which situations remind us of past experiences, happy or sad.

Being aware of them will always provide you with valuable information about yourself, so that you can work on personal aspects that might be debilitating or unrealistic in relation to the present moment.

Grow and feel more secure

Often, because we’re not aware of our own growth and maturation, we feel emotions that correspond to past experiences, usually from childhood. However, we grow with them, and we continue interpreting present situations as having the same danger that they had when we were young.

Getting to know yourself through your fear means becoming aware of the things that inhibit and limit you, reinterpreting seemingly dangerous situations and transforming them in your mind into situations that you’re capable of facing. You’ve grown, and now you have the strategies to successfully confront them.

Recognizing your abilities will allow you to feel more secure about facing your fears in the present moment, erasing the mark that they left on you in the past.

“Fear is the beginning of wisdom.”

-François Mauriac-

Think About What You Would Do If You Weren’t Afraid