The Anatomy of Fear

Fear. We’ve all experienced it. It’s that unsettled feeling you get in your stomach. Fear is the panic that can overtake you with no notice. Fear has been described by Wikipedia as an emotion induced by perceived danger or threat, which causes physiological changes and ultimately behavioural changes, such as fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events. Fear in human beings may occur in response to a certain stimulus occurring in the present, or in anticipation or expectation of a future threat perceived as a risk to oneself. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to a confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat, which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis. Everyone is inevitably afraid of something. After all; we’re only human. Life often brings fear into the picture and many times we feel like that contestant-ready to give up and walk away. If we ever truly want to overcome uncertainty and doubt, if we ever truly want to become confident, it’s vital that we have a complete and thorough understanding of the nature of fear.

Fear torments and prevents progress. It causes people who should be bold and aggressive to shrink back, to hide and be cowardly and timid. Fear is a thief. It steals our destinies. Everyone should be firm in the resolve that we will not allow fear to rule our lives. Think about the problems that you currently have. How many of those are tied to fear? Our worries come from fear. We try to control people and circumstances due to fear. We let people control us because of fear. People who’re afraid of being poor become greedy and stingy. Someone who’s afraid of not having friends pretends to be someone they’re not. I believe we can make time to understand fear and see it for what it really is, a spirit of destruction.

There is a folktale among the Bamasaba alluding to the anatomy of fear. In the lore, the children were told by their parents, “Whatever you do, don’t go near the top of the mountain. It’s where the monster lives.” All the previous generations of children heeded this warning and avoided going near the top of the mountain. One day, some brave young people in the village decided that they had to go and see the monster. They wanted to see what it really was like and defeat it. So they loaded their packs and provisions and set off for the mountain top. Halfway, they were stopped in their tracks by a huge roar and a terrible stench. Half of them ran down the mountain screaming. The other half of the group continued on their journey. As they got further up the mountain, they noticed that the monster was smaller than they expected. But it continued to roar and emit such a stench that all but one of them ran back down the mountain into the village.” I am going to get the monster,” the one remaining one said to himself and took another step forward. As he did so, the monster shrank until it was the same size as the young man. As he took another step forward towards the monster, it shrank again. It was still hideously ugly and continued to emit a stench but the man was so close to the monster that he could pick it up and hold it in the palm of his hand. He said to the monster “Well then, who are you? ” In a tiny high pitched voice, the monster squeaked, “My name is fear.” This tale emphasises what Arnold Glasow, the re-known biographer and businessman once said, “Fear is the lengthened shadow of ignorance.” This goes to show the dimensions of fear, how it possesses us and how to overcome it.

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows” This proverb shows us that fear is mainly a psychological issue. Moving forward, it is vital that we seek a means to deal with this issue that indiscriminately plagues all of us. Learning more about our fears, finding the root cause of our various afflictions is the first step to successfully dealing with fear. Belief in oneself is highly vital since fear uses our insecurities as a stepping stone. From this point onwards, we should relax and go for everything that we want. And maybe, just maybe we can totally eradicate fear.

Therefore we should always remember what Franklin Roosevelt once said; “The only thing we must fear is fear itself.” For indeed if we allow it to, it will control us. If we confront it, we will master it. The variety of phobias that people suffer with are seemingly endless and some of them quite bizarre. But they are actually very real and stifling to the one who suffers. Some people have fears so unique that they’re afraid to share their fears yet the best way to overcome is to expose it. Anything hidden has power over us but once it is brought into the light it can be dealt with and overcome.

Author : Preta Peace Namasaba


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