Learned Fear2012/11/16 - Author: Marco Neves
Fear may seem like a natural part of life, but most of the time fear is an intellectual construct of our minds.
What is initially called fear is a biologic reaction to the unexpected, the adrenaline rush that makes all of our senses alert and ready to react – ready but not necessarily reacting.
This biologic reaction, started by our automatic mind, allowed our ancestors survive in the jungle – making them aware of predators and enemies, making them alert and ready to fight or run for their lives.
But that is not how the 21st century men get to know fear anymore – and that is not the only thing we usually designate as fear.
As the original fear, the new one also tries to minimize pain, and have similar consequences on our bodies, but unlike the original fear, this one have social/cultural origins, and very rarely results from danger and unexpected events.
The biological fear is an impressive tool – and can also be an impressive drug (ask any adrenaline addict, if you are not one, you most certainly know at least one). It keeps you sharp when your live depend on that, it gives you the extra strength when it is most important, it improves your hearing when you need to understand what stands near you in the night, it is your survival tool above all others.
But then there is the learned fear, the fear of not belonging, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of rejection, the fear of not doing the right thing, the fear of doing the wrong thing.
The fear as a mostly automated reaction to unexpected changes in our immediate world is innate, most of all other fears are learned.
They are learned when parents scream with the children because they are doing something the parents learned to fear.
They are learned when other kids on the kindergarten or school make fun of us because of something we do, something we have or something we are.
They are learned when we are excluded from a group because we did something that is not acceptable on that group or because we didn’t do something that we are expected to do in order to become (or remain) part of the group.
Mostly because we grow up from punishment to exclusion, from being made fun of to being pressed, we learned through fear – fear of being punished, fear of being humiliated, fear of being excluded, fear of being alone.
But, fear is not the only option.
Unlike the original fear, who makes us move, alert and ready to react – yes, some people is blocked by fear, but most get a real rush and get more aware of everything – the learned fear almost all of the time just takes options from us.
All those things that we did in the past and were punished by our parents, our peers or the society in general, all of those options are not available for us anymore, or if we really have to do those things we are most of the time not able to fully enjoy those things because we are always afraid of the punishment, of being excluded because of them.
But sometimes those are really the things we need, the things we want, the things that make us happy.
Find your fears, search were they come from, find out if they make sense.
Don’t try to understand your fears. Fear, specially learned fear are often very good at hiding themselves in a very rational fashion.
Just observe them, whenever you decide not to do something, whenever you are afraid of doing something, just look inside of you and find out why you decided not to do it, find out what you are afraid of.
Just look at your fears and they will start to vanish slowly. Most fears are not rational (even if they show themselves as such), and they can’t stand being closely observed for long – you will start to see that around your fear is a very large set of things it is blocking from you.
Before anything else, be aware of your fears, maybe it is not time to face them yet, but keep observing them. A moment will come when you will cross the line your fear traced without even feeling the need to acknowledge that line. That’s when your fear starts to die and let you free to chose for yourself, fearlessly.
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