Fear doesn’t exist
Now, that we managed to gain your attention, we are saying sorry for lying to you: “Fear is something real”. It is a basic emotion that, explained in an easy way, takes place in our most primitive brain or limbic system. To a large extent, it is regulated by our amygdala through segregation –or not– of oxytocin. This hormone allows us, among other things, to generate empathy towards our fellow beings and to avoid the biological reactions of aggression, panic or paralysis that produce fear in the face of an imminent risk.
Once this has been clarified, we want to explain in the following lines the idea of the title. According to the behavioral interpretation of psychology, fear is an emotion learned by means of negative constraint as we see in the experiment Little Albert conducted by the psychologist John Broadus Watson. On the contrary, according to the theories of Carl G. Jung, advanced psychology attributes it to an unconscious complex.
Looking for pragmatism and taking our experience as a starting point, fear would be caused by an image that would only exist in certain future scenarios, anticipating its effects at the present moment. If we consider the past as the unique reality existing in a person’ life, we may neither talk about fear. We have to confront it as a trauma if we know its origin or as an unconscious complex –using the words of C. G. Jung–, in the case of not knowing the nature of the emotion.
After this assumption, we may say that fear doesn’t exist since it is part of a future scenario that we don’t know how likely it is to happen. We know that fear is an emotion and that its biological function is to activate the defense mechanisms that guarantee our survival in a present situation of real risk. At a psychological level, activating these mechanisms will only provoke us an unjustified energetic burnout caused by the physiological effects that are generated from stress, a direct consequence of fear.
The true value consists in identifying what makes fear valuable, taking an image that only hypothetically exists in a future scenario of our mind. Because of this, we want to make use of the famous phrase that it is heard in all the seminars of development “magic happens when you leave your comfort zone”. If we understand this “comfort zone” as the place of maximum energetic efficiency of our brain, then it is easy to presume that existing it leads to a situation of adaptive anxiety caused by ignorance and, in consequence, it can lead us to fear and even to neurosis.
It is highly important to understand that you are human if you feel this characteristic sensation of vertigo or adaptive anxiety, so be calm. The cerebral biology gives us the answer: Without a real motivation –from the Latin motivus or motus, which means cause of movement– your brain will always prefer to keep itself in this known area. To explain the effect, find the “cause(s) of movement” that justify the extra energy that your brain will have to use as to create the new neuronal connections. These will forge the habits that will help you escape that situation you want to get out from. Our biology also carries with the capacity to adapt and we, the humans, have this capacity especially developed when confronted to new circumstances –as Viktor Frankl empirically states in his work “Man’s search for meaning”. This adaptation will involve looking for new information: reading, training, meeting mentors… with the unique objective of minimizing adaptive anxiety until you get to the new desired situation.
The question changes when you are afraid or even get to neurosis. By responding to the psychological cause of fear as already discussed, you should be able to help yourself solve all those conditions that may produce this emotion before a new situation and most of all, solve all unconscious complexes that are leading you to a trauma. This, in most of the cases will be responsible for stagnation in your evolution.
Fear only exists in the past and you are projecting it into the future, boycotting your own development. Even though it is real at a neurophysiological level and your body prepares to confront it, it is inefficient for you to advance without solving the cause of the fear, because you will be going against your brain’s biological programming. You feel fear because of the interpretation that your brain realizes by assuming the result of what you are willing to do, by relying on that information that one day you felt as being negative. We recommend you to stop, to analyze the situation and to seek to identify and solve what causes your fear. You will avoid acting with unjustified aggressiveness, panic or paralysis before the situation.
Once solved, fear won’t exist. Confront your evolution in a positive and efficient way by focusing your energy towards something new, without worrying on how to justify or cover the past.