I’m currently reading this book by Paulo Coelho – Veronica Decides To Die. The fact that it is inspired by events in Coelho’s own life, this book brings more meaning to how we should be appreciating each day as a renewed opportunity. He raised questions of madness (those we call mad/crazy, are they truly mad? Or are we the mad ones in their eyes) and celebrates individuals who do not fit into patterns society considers to be normal. What is normal…really? Have we been too fast to judge what normalcy is, what gives us the right to? Will talk more about this book once I’m done with it.
But for now… my wonder number #14 is to talk about Fear. The story touched briefly on the fact that all human emotions can be related to fear, one way or another. Be it a positive or negative emotion. So failure to control fail, to the extreme extend will drive someone to crazy-ville.
Intriguing….. I myself have always had an issue with controlling thoughts and emotions, and deep down… I truly agree. Yes… the root to most dramas are caused by fear. I have built my own defense mechanism over the years as ways to conquer fear. With that sentence extracted from the book, I went on a mini research expedition of my own on the world wide web.
(after 2 days)
So. It is true. (Summarized from various sites)
Fear is one of the most adaptable human emotion, and can also have the longest lasting effects. It affect people physically and mentally, and can result in trauma that can take years of therapy to correct.
Many phobias are firmly rooted in irrational fear, which should not be confused with rational fear – which is a healthy survival tool. Emotions that have their root in fear include apprehension, terror, panic and dread.
Fear is a biological reaction that has been embedded into our system for self-preservation. We share it with animals. In human beings, however, the fear reaction develops into deeper levels of complexity and subtlety that engender a wide variety of downstream secondary emotions.
The following are the secondary derivative emotions of fear:
- Worry is a mechanism of our psyche that prompts us to do something. The prompting energy is fear – usually fear of some consequence. Because it is fear, the person tends to avoid thinking about it. Thus worry tends to perpetuate itself in a circular way – the fear causes non-action, and non-action further causes worry.
- Anxiety is a fear whose object is nonspecific or vague, whereas worry is about something specific and identified. Anxiety is the result of repeated unprocessed fears that have accumulated in one’s subconscious. It has become a vague feeling about an impending misfortune but which cannot be dealt with because it is unspecified. To resolve it, it must first be converted to specific worries, and then one can apply the guidelines on how to handle worry.
- Panic is an overwhelming fear that makes the person confused and unclear about what to do. This is the accumulated result of many fears, worries and anxieties that have not been resolved and not been handled well. It sometimes results in panic attacks, those inexplicable feelings that may not have any immediate cause but which just manifests in the person.
- Phobias are fear-reactions that are (a) out of proportion to the actual danger, such as jumping and shrieking at the sight of a rat or cockroach, or (b) irrational, such as trembling when seeing the photo of a spider.
- Trauma is a psychological “wound” that can still cause distress in a person. Strictly speaking, acquired fears are really traumas in varying degrees of intensity. But a trauma becomes pathological when it causes periodic distress such as nightmares, intense reactions to anything that reminds one of it, or it severely disturbs one’s daily life and work. .
- Envy is a more complex emotion, since it’s a mixture of a number of things: low self-esteem, resentment, and fear. We don’t envy the successes or achievements of those whom we can identify with, that is, those whom we love and care for. Their achievements are vicariously ours too. On the other hand, the achievements of those whom we cannot identify with, particularly those whom we resent, are felt as threats to our own self-esteem.
- Embarrassment involves a “loss of face” and being confused and perplexed at the same time. The embarrassment may not have been caused by anyone, as when one slips and falls down “disgracefully.” Hence there is no cause for anger toward anyone (except perhaps oneself). The action is withdrawal and hiding, not wanting to face people. At its root is the fear of what people might think or say. Shame is a similar feeling.
Fear not only engenders secondary or derivative emotions, but also certain psychological states or personality characteristics:
- Insecurity is a subtle and chronic psychological state of being unable to cope. It is rooted in fear, and is somewhat different from the felt flow of emotions like anxiety or panic. It is the outcome of the subconscious accumulation of fears. A person is hardly aware of the feelings connected with insecurity, but will nevertheless behave according to these fears. When the various forms of fear are resolved through self-awareness processing, however, the sense of insecurity disappears.
- Low Self-esteem is another state of being that is characterized by poor self-regard, insecurity, the desire to be loved and appreciated. It is no longer an emotion, but an attitude or psychological state. But it is rooted in distressful experiences that have not been properly processed, and which have sunk deeply into the subconscious.
So all in all…. FEAR is the mother of all negative emotions. Our first very important task, is to stop ourselves the next time we experience any negative emotion, and think – what’s the root to that fear, and if it is really that big a deal or not..… before we go on a ramping rage destroying everything in sight.
I know… easier said than done. But let’s just at least try.