The subject of this article seems to me to be particularly important as it lays behind many other issues I have previously discussed.
The emotion of fear, its management, confrontation, understanding and resolution is particularly current especially with the rise of fascism but also in the world of self-improvement where fear is the 'bad' feeling that one has to overcome to be free in order to create the life she wants.
Although part of this sentence may not be wrong, the obsession with which some may defend it may cover other things.
In mental health field, feelings are seen as information about how we relate to ourselves and our environment. For example, we are happy when something is very pleasant and we feel sad when we experience something as very unpleasant.
Fear serves to alert us of the presence of danger in order to act in such a way as to maintain ourselves in a state of security. If we did not feel afraid, then it is likely that we would get killed when passing a road with cars or by being hit by various objects we would meet in front of us.
To some extent, therefore, fear contributes an ally to our survival and development playing an important role.
The degree and the way each human organism activates or uses this feeling varies and is shaped as such for various reasons.
As a psychotherapist, it is impossible not to refer to the early years of a person's life where he learns from the environment what is dangerous, what to be careful of and what to trust. We are taught how to use a knife, an electric cooker, how to protect ourselves from an animal etc.
Like all other emotions, fear is created based on our past experiences and the information we have about the world. For example, if a mother is afraid of dogs (because maybe a dog once bite her) then she can teach her child that all dogs are dangerous and he is going the be afraid of them too. However, as the child is getting older she may have different experiences of dogs and decide to approach them with curiosity by learning if or how they can be dangerous for her.
Another cause of fear may be the encounter with the unknown, that is, when we live an unprecedented experience, our minds may employ whatever information they have in order to calculate and prevent any 'damage' or 'loss' to our system, e.g. feeling pain, etc. The mind fills, that is, any empty space of information (or processing of new information) with whatever information (scenarios) it already has and can create in order to prepare our system as a mapped field for what may happen in order to take the most advantageous action.
The intensity of the experience of a feeling is, therefore, a correlation of the experiences, knowledge, (memories), the information that a person has stored for the particular thing, and the means he believes he possesses to deal with it. For example, if a dog attempts to attack a person, then the availability and use of a wood stick can be a protective and deterrent factor to the attack. Another possibility would be that the person does not see or do not know how to use the wood stick and, thus, he will continue to feel defenceless against the imminent attack.
Depending on the presence of the factors of this correlation, the organism almost automatically chooses the best possible solution to manage and resolve the situation in order for the organism to remain safe (and therefore alive).
When it concerns dangers of non materialistic nature, things become more complicated. The fear of an illness, for example, may be related to the fear of death, the fear of learned helplessness, the fear of loneliness, and so on. Regardless of the opinion, information or personal experience we personally hold for a person' s situation, when someone feels something, fear for example, for him this feeling is real and we must respond to it as such, if we want to be of any help to this person.
Possible ways of dealing with fear can be to 'fight', 'flight', or 'freeze' by being paralysed and result in prolonged inactivity as the person may feel unable to manage and survive the feeling of fear, so he decides not to confront it. In addition to courage, dealing with a fear presupposes that the person feels that she will benefit more by doing something than doing nothing and also that the person believes that she has got the resources to cope with it (strength, support, etc.).
And that's where we return like the snake bites its tail, to where we started from, what we have learned to fear, to trust, and ultimately what life scenario we are living.
Admitting of feeling fearful by itself is considered by some an act of cowardice, weakness, disturbance as if a person chooses consciously not to want to resolve an internal conflict that keeps him 'stuck' in the same position.
However, seeing fear from the point of view of knowledge and evolution, then we understand that the person who is afraid is in distress because he feels that a part of him is in danger and that he needs something to feel safe in order to be able to resolve the fear and incorporate the new experience (the same one who is afraid of).
This can be acquiring more information, receive support, acknowledgement, appreciation and confidence in the strengths and qualities of oneself, gaining trust in others, etc.
If we all learn to recognise, express and accept everything we feel including what we are afraid of, then we will see how many things we have in common rather than separate us as people and also what resources (help, etc.) we need from ourselves and others to move from an unstable position to really live a free movement life.