Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Psychology Of Fear

The Definition Of Fear

There are a number of definitions for Fear. Here are some of them:

1. A painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger; apprehension; anxiety; solicitude; alarm; dread.

2. Apprehension of incurring, or solicitude to avoid, God's wrath; the trembling and awful reverence felt toward the Supreme Being.

3. Respectful reverence for men of authority or worth.

4. That which causes, or which is the object of, apprehension or alarm; source or occasion of terror; danger; dreadfulness.

5. To feel a painful apprehension of; to be afraid of; to consider or expect with emotion of alarm or solicitude.

The Nature Of Fear

We have all known fear, at one level or another, at some point in our lives. It's that feeling of being 'stuck' or 'safe' in our lives. It is that feeling of impotence and stagnation which assaults us, at times. It is that need to stay 'safe' within our own little world, instead of pushing and extending ourselves past our own limits.

It is that thing we cling to, like a safe harbor, when we walk into risky situations and come out having lost nothing of significance. It feels bad to lose, but it also feels secure in that nothing of significance was wagered and lost, as well.

Fear, like any other emotion, in moderation and in its proper place, is healthy. It can keep us safe and alert us to potentially dangerous situations. And yet, most of the time we cling to some level of fear that goes beyond the healthy, which holds us back and forces us to feel stagnation in our lives.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." This quote says quite a bit. But it does not say to walk blindly into danger, without being aware of what is going on around you. It says that you walk on, despite the fear that naturally arises within all of us. It says that fear is simply another emotion and not your master, which controls, rules, and dictates your life for you.

And while fear exists toward the huge hurdles we face in our lives, it also exists for the smaller ones. Even certain words can instill fear, if you have issues in your past that you have avoided and refused to deal with head on.

Words like manipulation, darkness, and prejudice have the power to instill fear within people, because the word alone is a reminder of something from the past. It is a connection, linked at the subconscious level, to a past event that one might not even realize is causing the issue. You might not even realize you have a problem with the issue in question.

Fear can extend further to things like prejudice where in the one who appears prejudiced has deep seated issues with something they associate with another person. And that thing doesn't have to be rational. It can be as simple as the color of their hair to as deep and personal as their religious and/or moral beliefs.

And yet, even as it extends to this, the person in question may not even be aware of what is causing them to push away from another person so hard. They may not know why they are lashing out in such an aggressive or violent way (verbally or physically).

When I was much younger, there was a certain personality type in women that I tended to push away from. I always ended up hating people who held those particular personality traits. It was easier for me to hate them, than it was to try to understand them, and understand myself and the underlying reasons I hated them.

It wasn't until much later, after quite a bit of soul searching, that I discovered a correlation to something that had happened to me in the past, in those women. They reminded me of someone else who had abused me horribly in my childhood.

It didn't justify my anger or hate. In fact it forced me to go back and reevaluate each of the encounters I had had with people with those personality traits. And it was uncomfortable to realize I had judged people, based on something they didn't do, who didn't deserve my judgment.

I can't say that all of them were nice people. But discovering my own part in the interaction shocked me into feeling ashamed and guilty for what I'd done. And realizing it made me think harder about how I treat people, even in the words I use to communicate with them. And in that bit of soul searching, I learned to forgive myself and move on.

The point here is, that we can hide (to stay safe),we can wallow in our own self pity, guilt, and shame, or we can deal with what we are running from and move on from it. And in the process take a lesson away from the encounters, since they are in the past and there is nothing more we can do about them.

I could have sat there for years and berated myself over and over again, as was my way of stripping myself of any worth for a long time, about what a horrible person I was then and must still be. I could have hidden away from the truth about what I did and the person I was then, and the issues I carried with me. But none of those things would allow me to move forward. It only ever made me feel like I was drowning in stagnant water full of filth and grime. It only ever left me feeling dirty.

The nature of fear is that it is only an emotion, like any other. Wayne Dyer is quoted as saying, "The components of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger do not exist independently of you in the world. They simply do not exist in the physical world, even though we talk about them as if they do." So if fear is simply an emotion, like any other, and it only exists within you, you have the innate ability to control it, instead of allowing it to control you.

The truest nature of fear is said best in this quote by Marianne Williamson, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others. "

Empathy & Fear

Fear and empathy , do not go hand in hand. This is because when one is fearful, one is centered in the 'self' and not able to focus on others. Empathy, though, encompasses the understanding of fear, in oneself and others. In understanding it, one can help themselves and others reach beyond the fear to something more productive.

When one is afraid, there usually arises a fight or flight instinct within the person. This tends to block out all other emotions, because one is either preparing to stand their ground or run away. In this scenario, it also tends to block out the expression of empathy, when it is at its height. But understand this isn't because the person doesn't care, its just that their focus is so drawn to the thing causing the fear, that they take no notice of anything else.

Imagine, if you will, an Empath who is afraid of helping, out of fear of reprisal. Try imagining the driving need they feel to help someone who seems to be suffering. And now imagine the impotence they feel, when they can not articulate that, even when they have the right words to say and the right shoulder to cry on. How does one move forward from that, unless they step into the fray and put themselves out there, by offering help and support to others?

Now imagine an Empath who puts themselves out there so much, that there is no time left for themselves. In fact they put themselves out there to help others so much, that it literally takes a toll on them, physically and mentally. As well, they seem not to care about their own safety when it comes to helping others.

This too, is a form of fear. It is the fear and avoidance of dealing with self and our own issues. And even while it seems altruistic in nature, this is only so in one direction ~ outwardly toward others. The self, in all its shapes and forms, is basically relegated to the gutter because upon comparison, with who one is when they give like this and who one is inside, they prefer the person they are as they give, who seems to have no problems. And yet the problems still exist, even as they push them down to avoid them.

So what you've seen here are two examples of the types of fear, as Empaths, we deal with within ourselves. There are more, of course. But these are enough, I think, to make the point. So think about it. ^_^

4 Fundamental Facts About Fear

1) Fear lives in the future

Fear is always about something that might happen in the future. As far as your focus
is in the present, you cannot have fear. When fear sets in ask yourself ‘do I have any problem at this moment?’ You may find surprising relief!

2) Fear is just an emotion

Irrational Fear is an overblown imagination of what might happen in future. When you are afraid that your plane would crash, it is just an emotion not the crash itself. When you recognize this, you’ll make fear powerless

3) Fear is always about loss – loss of life, wealth, respect etc.

The fear of losing it is proportionate to the intensity of the attachment you have on it. Try practicing detached attachment and keep fear at the bay

4) Fear is present only when there is a desire

Fear arises only when there could be a conflict between what you want and what might happen. We build up expectations around life and come up with a concrete picture of how our lives SHOULD be. This rigidity forms a strong foundation for fear. If we are flexible, we can withstand the storm. When we flow with life, fears dissolve. When you find yourself in the middle of the storm, ask yourself 'Why should I resist this?' You may find your strength to let go and flow.

Steps To Treating Fear

Step 1: External control
The overall goal of psychotherapy is to foster internal control of fear. External control may be a necessary precursor, but it is the beginning, not the end. Medications sometimes help, but they should be the kind that augment internal control (anti-depressants, like Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin) not the kind that directly alleviate the symptoms of fear ( Alcohol, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin) Avoiding the situations in which fear occurs may help in the short run, but can quickly become more dangerous than fear.

Step 2: Taking the measure of fear
Once people understand what fear really is, they can begin to act as if it doesn’t exist. Real things have properties. They take up space and have weight. Psychological entities have properties as well. They exist in space and time with measurable intensity and duration. What makes them real is words. Fearful people are encouraged to examine their fear rather than merely reacting to it.

Step 3: Internal control
Once people understand what fear is, the next step is showing them that, through their actions, they can exert some control over it.
Relaxation and exercise
Though rather low-tech, relaxation training and regular exercise work wonders on two distinct levels. They decrease generalized arousal, thereby raising the threshold for explosions, and they move fearful people from passively accepting their disorder to doing something about it.
The basic behavioral procedure for fear disorders involves substituting relaxation for the fight or flight response, and using the new connection to help frightened people move progressively closer to what they fear.
Cognitive Therapy
The basic idea of this approach is: What you feel is determined by what you say to yourself inside your head. It involves extensive re-recording of the internal soundtrack of existence.

Step 4: Creating a new balance
Fear disorders often develop in people who have difficulty asking for what they do want and saying no to what they don’t want. Sometimes they let their illnesses speak for them when they should be speaking for themselves. When they do speak up, it can cause emotional explosions in the people around them, who wonder why they’re not as compliant as they used to be. It helps to have significant others involved in this phase of treatment.

A Video Guide To Fear

Krishnamurti ~ The Nature and the Eradication Of Fear Part 1

Krishnamurti ~ The Nature and the Eradication Of Fear Part 2

Krishnamurti ~ The Nature and the Eradication Of Fear Part 3

Krishnamurti ~ The Nature and the Eradication Of Fear Part 4

Krishnamurti ~ The Nature and the Eradication Of Fear Part 5

Krishnamurti ~ The Nature and the Eradication Of Fear Part 6

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