About Fear

We grow up with fear. From the moment we come to this world, fear shapes us, affects our relationship with loved ones and other people, shapes our behavior, is part of the learning process. There are fears that are encoded in our genes, there are fears that are acquired. Fear of slipping, fear of loud sounds, fear of the dark, fear of strangers, of abandonment, fear of monsters, of snakes, of heights and falls, fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of fear…. We can continue the list, each of us certainly has at least one experience of fear that can add…

Fear is an important part of development. That feeling keeps us from getting into dangerous situations. It is an internal alarm that something is wrong, and it takes us away from the source of fear. We need to learn to listen to the part that raises the alarm and to interpret this signal correctly. Because, on the other hand, fear can become a huge obstacle and block us in some or even all domains of life.

There are people who say they don’t feel fear. There are people who live on the “edge”, and it seems as if they feed on that excitement while causing life or death – they ride fast, jump from high cliffs, surf, do mountain biking, snowboard “.

From the point of view of the senses, we are talking about hyporeagility and the search for sensations – in these people the threshold of sensitivity in some sensory systems is so high that strong stimulation is needed to reach and activate the senses, and they get that stimulation by doing extreme sports. Because maybe only then do they have the feeling of the excitement that life is.

From the perspective of gestalt psychotherapy, anxiety, as a form of fear, occurs when the excitement that is the basis and fuel of our actions is interrupted, when we stop the movement that leads to the outside (to some aspect of the field related to satisfying the need, and it can be another person , or involve other people). In some cases, there is an awareness of need and more or less conscious suppression of the real need and thus interruption of movement, but often we are not even aware of the meaning of the excitement that occurs. There is excitement that we interpret as “dangerous” – which can be the result of an introject (beliefs from the environment that we “swallowed” – feelings that can lead you to undesirable situations; control is the most important skill, etc.). The excitement that has not developed and led us through the whole cycle of contact becomes anxiety .. We can talk here about the fear of contact, with yourself, with others… – it can be the fear of being seen, even the fear of seeing some parts of ourselves . And it always has to do with stopping growth – there is no moving forward, there is no development… Support is needed, (psychotherapist) in order to redirect the process towards growth.

At the beginning of my encounter with psychotherapy, in the role of a client and then as a student, I thought that the goal was not to feel anxiety. I was relieved to realize that was not the case. Because it is impossible not to feel it, it gives me important information, about me, about the world. I can thank her for protecting me, but also, teach her to calm her down, that storm in me, and to step out bravely. That means expanding. If the fear is closing, gathering, narrowing, the opposite movement would be opening, raising and expanding the view, and thus facing everything around me. Sometimes just turning on reality helps to reduce fear. Real information, “perception instead of projection”. It is somewhat different when it comes to traumatic experiences that have deeply imprinted fear. It takes time, patience, love to heal this fear. Human contact is key. But even here it is necessary to open your heart and take risks and accept it.

Fear has a cognitive, emotional, and physiological component. It is important to recognize all three, and to act on all three levels – to be aware of thoughts – to watch over thoughts; calm emotions… It is not always clear whether a physiological reaction (heart beating, shortness of breath, sweating) occurs first, which in turn causes a feeling of fear (that something terrible will happen to me – that I will go crazy, or die) – which happens in panic attacks. Often, uncontrollable situations become triggers for panic attacks.

Some research highlights the need to distinguish between an idea and an actual experience of fear.

Animals also show reactions of fear – we don’t know if they feel fear, because we conclude about it only from behavior as a reaction to certain stimulus situations. The feeling of fear is a subjective experience, some authors consider it a psychological construct.

In an attempt to discover the neurological structures underlying fear, research has not yielded unequivocal results – although fear in humans is most associated with the amygdala, it is not exclusively related to fear, but is also activated in the case of other, unpleasant and pleasant feelings. Likewise, MRI shows that other regions in the brain are activated in states of fear, but differences in findings do not allow definitive conclusions.

Anxiety, avoiding personality disorder, panic attacks, paranoid personality disorder, addictive personality disorder, various phobias – these are the names of various diagnostic categories in which the feeling of fear and insecurity dominates. ..Imagine a person who is locked in a limited circle of activities, it is best for that person to stay at home, every going out is stressful, especially when the needs to enter into communication with other people, or when a new situation await. Black thoughts and catastrophic fantasies flood their mind, they are overwhelmed by fears that cause very negative physical manifestations. This further reinforces the fears, and blocks it in every aspect of functioning. And they live in that circle, where every step that is not accompanied by an army of fears is a victory, but then the day comes again when everything falls to the bottom, a hopeless feeling … And they breathe just enough to survive, turn a new circle of despair… And everything that happens around it gets its meaning in accordance with the view of fear that sees everywhere a reason for fear… And how about that? What can I tell them, do to them, to pull them up?

The key here is my standing with them, next to them, looking at all that horror, recognizing the place where they are. I remain my own, in my role, in my place, but here I am … I see you. I see that it is difficult… I look at them as a mother looks at her little child and says to them: I am here… do not worry, everything will be fine… everything is fine… Because this feeling belongs to a small child who is overwhelmed by a terrible big the world in which it was lost…. My view that sees, recognizes, understands, accepts, is the lifeline that will pull them up… because it is important to look up and believe…And when they see where they can and choose to stay or move… to accept the provided hand. In the confusion into which fear throws us, signposts are needed. But I don’t do anything for them. Strength and faith must awaken in them. And the slightest feeling that they have a choice is the grain that we can revive, strengthen until they become a force.

And in this human contact, something happens that is bigger than us, to which we both allow ourselves to be guided. This inevitably enters the dimension of spirituality, because we need to admit that we are part of the Whole, and let go of all control… because life is given to us, it happens and we can only embrace it with all the risks it carries, and all the beauty… And only then, letting go of everything, we give up all barriers, and the boundaries we have raised to protect us, we can connect with others and open our hearts to receive, and to give… Even though a little fear still exists… Despite the fear… Because what we get it incomparably bigger…

We will not deny fear … It has been present since the beginning, and it is an integral part of the human constitution. It has its place and function… But we do not have to choose to live fear .. We can recognize all the other ingredients of which we are made and revive them.

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