The Damaging Effects of Fear
This is a purely qualitative account of the damaging properties of fear as observed by me through my experiences in my own life and the lives of those who have shared experiences with me.
This is NOT a scientific investigation and I make no claim that I am even thinking in the realm of constraints, scientific or otherwise, as I write this. This is purely an account of my intuition, free of all judgment and skepticism so as to allow me to fully explore the ideas I intuit. That being said I highly encourage scientific investigation into any of the claims made here and am wholly interested in scientific evidence being presented in support of or against the claims made here.
What is fear?
Many people like to believe that fear is the learned aversion of a stimulus. For example, one learns to avoid placing their hand on the hot stove top; this is fear. One also learns to avoid looking people in the eye in the elevator for the duration of the whole trip to 17th floor in the Hyatt. This is also fear.
I’m sure at this point some of you have already picked up on the ideological thread of this topic and others of you keenly feel it but cannot place what it is.
The two above examples are both examples of fear yet they feel distinctly different from one another. The difference is in fact there, and it is incredibly important. One of these types of fear is good; it is vital in keeping you alive, healthy, and striving towards what will benefit you physiologically, and perhaps even evolutionarily. The other fear is bad; it plays a major role in emotional unhealth which may lead to mental illness, personality disorder, etc., and ultimately may end in anger, isolation, and disconnection which leads to physical harm either to oneself and / or others.
The two types of fear are as follow:
- Fear of Physical Harm:
The fear that external physical stimulus will damage your internal physical mechanism and make it harder to, or altogether cease, your physical functioning.
- Fear of Emotional Harm (Ego) :
The fear that you will not be loved. This may express itself as a fear of not being worth loving, a fear that love outside yourself does not exist, or even that it may exist but is improbable for you or your situation. This is known to most people as the ego.
The fear of physical harm is truly beneficial. It is the fear we as humans have inherited from our primal, animal existence. All animals have this fear, each us included, and it serves to protect and nourish the physical vessel of our emotional selves. Needless to say if our physical selves are in any kind of danger, be it immediate or prolonged and incremental, it leaves our emotional selves feeling drained and vulnerable. If our physical selves are healthy, well maintained, and nourished it primes our emotional selves to be so as well.
This thinking brings me to the following quote:
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
If this doesn’t make sense yet, just hang in there as we’ll discuss it further below. If it does make sense but it sounds too new-age hippie and pseudo-sciency by itself then we can do a quick search and replace of “spiritual” with “emotional” and end up with:
We are not human beings having an emotional experience; we are emotional beings having a human experience.
To bring it all the way back around to our dual model of the two types of fear, we can do one more search and replace of “human” with “physical”:
We are not physical beings having an emotional experience; we are emotional beings having a physical experience.
This statement will help us tremendously in exploring the damaging effects of fear of emotional harm, or ego, as I will refer to it from now on. It will help by allowing us to imagine that the physical self does not solely create the emotional self, but that the emotional self also helps create our physical self. This lets us see that for the most part the emotional self — the emotions you feel on a day to day basis when you’re watching Game of Thrones, or presenting a report to your boss at work, or just Netflix n’ chilling with your significant other, is NOT the product of your physical circumstance. Nor is it the causal product of brain chemistry. Brain chemistry just changes to reflect your emotional self; correlated but not always causal. Some emotions may be responses to brain chemistry or other physical circumstances, but the majority of them are not.
The majority of your emotional self (the emotions you feel on a day to day basis) is a response to the emotional self of other people. An incredibly large amount of your identity is related and relative to the identities of the other people around you. This is where fear comes in.
Fear is the ultimate expression of emotional negativity. It is the final form of ego. However many people show ego in many of its other transmutations such as jealousy, anger, pretension, narcism. This is because they have not broken those emotions down into their most basic forms yet, which are constituted of fear. Each of those emotions can be a fear of one thing or another (the object of the fear is what differentiates those emotions from one another) but ultimately any and all fear boils down to a fear of physical harm.
When we harbor a fear of physical harm from physical objects and beings, that is the good fear that protects us.
When we mistakenly harbor fear of physical harm from emotions or emotional beings that is ego.
But what creates these fears inside us? Sure, anyone can say “ healthy, gooood. Ego, baaaaad.”, but how does that confront ego and bring anyone to a better place, what’s the point?
The point is that the things truly worth fearing are things that truly hurt us, like a hot stove top. However other peoples ego’s CANNOT hurt you, other peoples fear CANNOT hurt you
If someones ego grows powerful enough and manifest itself in physical form as physical violence or physical negligence then it can hurt you and at that point a fear of physical harm is warranted and healthy, but at any point before that your fear is just your ego in response to others ego, and hurts you as much as it hurts others.
So let us not forget, for the most part we are emotional beings having a physical experience. As emotional beings our identities are highly related and relative to the identities of the people around us, and our emotions and feelings are mostly responses to the emotions and feelings of the people around us. However fear should never be our response to the emotions of other people. We have nothing to fear from emotions or emotional beings other than their absence in our life, at which point statistics and sociology dictate that its necessary that another emotional being enters that emotional vacuum. And if we have nothing to fear, then we have nothing to be angry, or jealous, or pretentious, or scared about. Once we realize we have nothing to fear we will let go of emotional beings who do not want to be with us to make space for the people who do. And when they come we will let them in with open arms. And so the cycle continues, until perhaps you find someone who you truly do not fear and who truly does not fear any deep, dark part of you.
If we hold on to the fear we do not let go or embrace. We do not change. We become angry, jealous, pretentious, and emotionally cruel. These are all signs that we need to stop fearing being ourselves with other people. But if fear continues once we become cruel we become lonely. Once lonely we live lives we are unhappy with; we stay with people that make us feel sick, do jobs that leave us feeling dead inside and unfulfilled, and live through days in bleak monotony that we desperately want to break but hopelessly feel like we cant.
Once we feel truly alone, we eventually become harmful to ourselves and others. Suicide, murder, and rape, are all effects of ego and fear at this stage. If one becomes harmful enough, eventually they will be harmed back. That is the singular and truly damaging effect of fear on us as individuals. We have also at this point spread our fear to so many others that we’ve hurt the world and the people who love and accept us, and the people we want to love and accept beneath our fear. That is the singular and truly damaging effect of fear on all of us as a civilization and a species.
So please, if you are afraid, do not be afraid. There is nothing to be afraid of. As someone writing across a computer screen let me say that there is enough love for all of us. Even if we choose to slack off at work, cheat on our significant others, or tell our friends that we actually find Game of Thrones completely disinteresting (personally love it) and totally don’t care how much they want to impress us. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. Mistakes are natural though and help us find out who we are and who will love us. Fear of mistakes is a fear of finding the love we desperately want and need. It takes some work, it takes a lot of mistakes, but go make those mistakes and find it! The mistakes you make are not in vain, the love for you exists.
A person like you,