Fear is one of the most fascinating and crippling human emotions. All of us, at one time or another, have been overcome with fear.
There are two kinds of fear: actual fear and psychological fear. Actual fear involves a true danger, one that is often life threatening. An example of this is if a masked criminal holds you up at gunpoint in a dark alley in the slums of the city in which you live. In this case, there is a legitimate threat to your life, and the fear is warranted. Psychological fear, however, is a misperceived danger or threat in a situation in which there is none.
An example of this is coming to work on a Monday morning and being completely ignored by your boss as he walks by you in the hallway outside your office. Most people would ascribe all sorts of meaning to such an event, with no evidence of any truth behind their interpretation.
For example, you may think that your boss is upset with something you did or your recent performance at work. This could evolve into worry and stress over where you went wrong. This could lead to fear of potentially losing your job which could lead to the fear of how you will support your family and pay your bills.
You will then begin dwelling on how you will ever find another job and what you now have to do to prove your worth to another employer. This may lead to a change in your behavior at work with your colleagues and the boss who snubbed you, which could create an issue where none ever existed.
Now, there is a possibility that all you believe about this event is true. However, if your performance at work to that point has been exemplary, and your boss and colleagues have previously been pleased with you, it is unlikely that any of your fears are warranted.
Minds Have A Tendency To Misinterpret Events
Another possible interpretation of this event is that your boss is so preoccupied with another issue that has nothing to do with you that he failed to notice you as he walked by you. He may be preoccupied with a personal issue at home, another employee, a difficult client, last quarter profits, a new product launch, a new direction that the business is taking, or any number of issues that have nothing to do with you.
Because our minds have a tendency to misinterpret events before they have all the facts, the situation is interpreted in a way that creates unwarranted fear, which can lead to chronic stress and, eventually, illness. I call this psychological fear because it is created by the mind and is not an actual danger or threat.
Mind Creates Fear Around Goals
Other situations in which we feel psychological fear is when we aspire to goals that we’re not sure we can achieve. A classic example is that you want to ask someone out on a date but are afraid of being rejected. Another example is asking your boss for a salary increase. In both cases, you have a goal in mind, but before you even know what the outcome will be your mind has created fear around this goal.
The truth of the matter is that it is natural to feel such psychological fear because it is often a learned response from situations in our early childhood and youth in which we may not have always gotten what we desired. Our ego latches onto these memories and reinforces our fears. It does this in order to keep us safe from rejection and disappointment because the ego’s role, in our evolution, has been to help us survive.
The problem with this is that even though our ego has been integral to our survival, it often keeps us from taking the necessary steps to achieve great things in our lives. The problem is not the feeling of psychological fear but what we do with the feeling. If we dwell on psychological fear and let it pollute our thoughts and affect our daily routine, it will eventually lead to chronic stress and illness, as I have already mentioned. What we need to realize is that psychological fear is usually a threshold that we have to face on the path to our goals and ambitions, a gate that we must pass through in order to achieve these.
Fear Arises Out Of Some Sort Of Risk
Fear usually arises out of some sort of risk, and there are many kinds of risk we can face. In physical risk, there is a threat to your physical body and well-being. An example of this is mountain climbing or skydiving, where there is a potential risk to life.
Emotional risk usually involves our dealings with other people and our relationships. An example of this is telling someone you care deeply about that you love them. The risk here is that the feelings will not be reciprocated.
Intellectual risk involves seeking to learn and apply a new body of knowledge or skill.
Spiritual risk can take several forms. One type of spiritual risk is when you go against your religious upbringing and choose a different religious or spiritual path. The risk here is that you will be shunned and condemned by your parents, siblings, and extended family members.
Another type of spiritual risk is trusting in a Higher Power. The risk here is that the existence of a Higher Power cannot be rationally proven and is based solely on faith or belief. There is the potential that your beliefs in a Higher Power are not true.
Existential risk involves beginning to question the reasons behind the creation of the universe and your own very existence. The risk here is that you could create a crisis of identity and meaning that could dramatically alter the current course of your life situation.
Rational Approach To Dealing With Fear
I would like to give you a rational approach to dealing with any fear that you may experience in your life, actual or psychological. But no matter what is causing the fear you are experiencing, action is always a must. This will become more clear as I discuss the steps to dealing with any fear that you face.
The first step is to assess the situation: the source of the fear. Is there an actual threat or danger to your life? If this is the case, then you are dealing with an actual fear, and you must take any immediate action possible to remove yourself from the source of the threat or danger. For example, if you are being confronted by an armed gunman, you either give him what he wants, so that he will leave you alone, or you go along with his demands until you can find an opening in the situation to escape.
If there is no actual threat or danger, you must then ask yourself, what is the source of my psychological fear? It may be that you are imagining the worst possible outcome of the situation.
For example, in the case of asking out an attractive person on a date, your mind may fear the potential outcome of rejection. The problem is that your mind is imagining the worst possible outcome from a spectrum of potential outcomes. One possible outcome could be that they agree to go out with you. Another possible outcome is that they do not become a love interest but a friend who you can spend time with. Another possible outcome is that they are not romantically interested in you but by going through the process of asking them out, you gain the courage to ask out someone else.
Our minds have a tendency to latch onto the worst possible outcome and make this a reality before the actual situation has a chance to unfold naturally. The way to deal with this is to let your mind experience the emotional outcome of the worst possible situation.
For example, in the case of asking out an attractive person on a date, let your mind experience rejection and feel this outcome fully. Then ask your mind, what is the worst possible thing that could happen? Will you die? Of course not! Will you be embarrassed? Potentially. Will your ego or your pride be temporarily bruised from this rejection? Possibly, but this is not the end of the world. You will, eventually, get over this rejection and realize that there are many other people you could potentially date.
What you are doing here is putting the worst possible outcome into perspective and realizing that the emotional fallout from this outcome is probably not as bad as your mind may have imagined it. You are also telling your mind that the worst possible outcome is only one out of a spectrum of other possible outcomes, many of which may be desirable. The issue at hand is that you will never know the eventual outcome if you do not take action on the issue that causes the psychological fear.
What this means is that psychological fear is not an insurmountable obstacle that you should retreat from but a threshold that you need to cross if you are to grow and evolve.
Moving Toward and Through Our Fears
Think about it. Some of our greatest accomplishments have been achieved despite our fears about taking action. When a baby is first learning to walk, they hesitate, stumble many times, and may even get hurt while trying. But the baby does not give up and keeps on trying despite their fear until they are finally able to walk with full balance.
This is how we should handle our psychological fears. As long as there is no imminent threat to our lives, we need to move toward our fears and through them. This is the only way we will achieve the spectrum of desirable outcomes that can come out of the situation. It is where real inner growth and wisdom occurs. This is why fear is a signpost on your journey that guides you to the greatest possibilities for your life.
Courage Is Not The Absence of Fear
The other thing to realize is that courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to do what needs to be done in spite of fear. If you give in to the fear, then you are allowing your ego to dictate the course of your life, which thinks it is keeping you safe from disappointment. If you move toward and through your fear, then you are living from the highest aspect of who you are, namely your consciousness, being, or spirit, which cannot be threatened by anything.
Fear is simply your Higher Self calling you to live the greatest version of who you are in order to open yourself up to experience the best possible outcome in any situation. So feel the fear, and do it anyway!
Copyright 2017 by Nauman Naeem MD. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com
Healing from the Inside Out: Overcome Chronic Disease and Radically Change Your Life
by Nauman Naeem MD
The principles in his book can be applied to many situations including improving personal relationships, finding your life’s purpose and mission, and increasing focus, productivity, and creativity. The purpose of this book is to take you on a journey to the core of your being. This is done through unraveling layers and layers of density which most of us accumulate throughout our lives which often initiate and perpetuate chronic disease.
About the Author
Dr. Naeem is a physician specializing in pulmonary and critical care medicine whose intellectual journey has taken him far beyond the confines of conventional medicine. Over the course of his career he has treated tens of thousands of patients and has realized that the majority of patients with chronic disease do not heal, a percentage of whom have no desire to heal. This realization compelled him to dive deeper into the psychology of healing, human consciousness, metaphysics, and healing traditions from the past through his own personal research and study to uncover how he can facilitate healing in his patients and clients. He now coaches clients in how to heal, despite any condition they may be suffering from, and to find their unique life’s mission as an expression of their life’s purpose. He also coaches entrepreneurs and other business leaders on how to accelerate their focus and productivity for exponential success. Visit his website at www.NaumanNaeem.com/
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With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.
Fear is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.
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A date won't take "no" for an answer. The new nanny gives a mother an uneasy feeling. A stranger in a deserted parking lot offers unsolicited help. The threat of violence surrounds us every day. But we can protect ourselves, by learning to trust—and act on—our gut instincts.
In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the nation's leading expert on violent behavior, shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger—before it's too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker, whose clients include top Hollywood stars and government agencies, offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including...how to act when approached by a stranger...when you should fear someone close to you...what to do if you are being stalked...how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls...the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person...and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.
“Written in words so intimate, calm, kind, and immediate, this extraordinary book feels like a message from our very own heart….Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most important voices of our time, and we have never needed to listen to him more than now.”
Fear is destructive, a pervasive problem we all face. Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar, peace activist, and one of the foremost spiritual leaders in the world—a gifted teacher who was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr.—Thich Nhat Hanh has written a powerful and practical strategic guide to overcoming our debilitating uncertainties and personal terrors. The New York Times said Hanh, “ranks second only to the Dalai Lama” as the Buddhist leader with the most influence in the West. In Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting through the Storm, Hanh explores the origins of our fears, illuminating a path to finding peace and freedom from anxiety and offering powerful tools to help us eradicate it from our lives