Why Do We Fear Things? By Michelle C. Ustaszeski-Hutchinson

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.

Fear is simply a basic emotional response to a perceived external threat. It has been preserved throughout evolution by causing the appropriate behavioral responses that are vital for our survival.

Fear is telling us to get out of a situation, move to a different environment, or to stop a particular action. It is controlled by our cognition and learning processes.

Fear is not our enemy. It serves us well, for if we fear the right thing and avoid that dark, back alley, we may survive in order to pass on our genes.

The feeling of fear starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause your heart to race and your breathing to accelerate. These reactions prepare your body to fight for your life or run for your life, hence, the fight-or-flight response. In more extreme cases, it can cause terror and paralysis.

It is probably the most crippling of all the emotions as fear stops us from:

  • Becoming successful
  • Stepping out of our comfort zones
  • Gaining financial abundance
  • Finding love
  • Pursuing our dreams
  • Reaching our goals
  • Moving forward

These are the types of fears that we can and should control.

If not checked, fear can turn into a paranoid state of mind. The actual stimulus that causes a feared response can be anything a person perceives to be dangerous. Perceived threats are just as personal, complex and versatile as a person’s thoughts.

Because many fears are subjective and illusionary, they can be conquered.

Practically everybody knows what it’s like to feel anxious, worried, nervous, afraid, uptight, or panicky. Often, anxiety is just a nuisance, but sometimes it can cripple you and prevent you from doing what you really want with your life. But I have some great news for you: You can change the way you feel.” -David D. Burns, Adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the author of the best-selling books Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and The Feeling Good Handbook

Fear as Anxiety

The most common expression of fear is anxiety. It can be felt throughout the whole body and arises purely from your own thoughts.

The acronym F.E.A.R stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.

There is usually no real threat of personal harm or danger and you usually carry it around with you for an extended period of time. If you choose to look at the positive aspects of anxiety, you will be happy to learn that the evidence causing your fear is an illusion; a fabricated exaggeration created by the mind itself and can be altered to better serve you by altering your perceptions.

Since most sources of fear and anxiety occur due to past experiences, conditioned responses, memories, or the anticipation of certain events, they can be defeated by simply acknowledging that they exist and knowing that thoughts themselves cannot hurt you.

Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.”-Seth Godin, American author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker

MichelleBrickWall2About the Author: Michelle C. Ustaszeski-Hutchinson is the Founder and Executive Editor of The Teen Mentor, LLC, based in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. She is a Personal Development Expert and The Faciliator of Wisdom. As co-author of 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Michelle teamed with some of the top motivational gurus such as Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Denis Waitley, and Joe Vitale in order to offer a compilation of self-improvement teachings. She has been quoted as a “Master of Success” among some of the worlds most famous thinkers and published in numerous books and on thousands of websites around the world. Read More…