Courage faces fear and thereby masters it.
Martin Luther King JR.
Can we take a look at the list of fears that others or ourselves face regularly in life?
How is it possible that we experience so many fears? How many times during your life have you been trapped on these emotions? How are they running or ruining your life? Is it any way to manage them? Or Fight them?
While I was writing these sentences my mind was navigating on another plan, reminding me about childhood. When we are born we are fearless of anything, till we start experiencing things on this world and start learning, creating patterns that accompany us all our life.
But at the very beginning, when we were just born we didn’t know anything about fear at all. We were using our mouth as window of curiosity and catching almost every single thing through our eyes, without showing any particle of fear; or disturbance; or problem, as we didn’t have yet any information. What we knew for sure was the fact that we were living in a friendly environment with people around us that could take care for us and make possible all our needs. We simply needed to communicate with them through different sounds (crying, laughing, screaming…), letting them know what we needed. But we were not fearful at all if we would have been rejected or ridiculed or any other behavior that disturbs us today as adults. In fact we didn’t care at all in that age. We needed just to communicate… and it seemed so easy for us as we were able to receive everything we were asking for.
I recall my nephew’s daughter when she was born nine years ago. It was almost impossible not to keep an eye on her, as she could hurt herself any single moment. She was so energetic and full of life as she wanted to get the maximum from every single moment. I was amazed watching her being so fearless every single moment. Unbelievable! At that period I started to study about human physiology and behavior and the most common thing appearing in every study was FEAR. That’s why I was so curious at that time to watch kids and see how they behaved; trying to recognize when they start to be fearful; what age; at what amount of intensity, etc.
I went even deeper, reading different studies on fear and human behavior. For sure, this is yet a very complex field to analyze, as complex as we are as humans. However, I will modestly try to share with you my observations and research in this area.
Yes, it is true that when we are born, we are almost fearless. There is an aspect of ADN inheritance but it is camouflaged until we start to learn things from our environment, parents or caregivers. In order to simplify the understanding, I am not going to describe the inheritance aspect but what happens as we grow up.
Fear itself is simply an emotion. Then we label with different names, as described above. But the very simple way of fear recognition is through physical threats. Imagine you are walking in a foreign country’s zoo and you are enjoying so much the surrounding and the animals. It is a beautiful place. You are walking on your own, feeling peacefully and curious while watching careless. As soon as you turn to the corner of the lion cage your relaxed eyes catch a confused tiger out of his cage! Your body state changes instantly.
Your heart races fast, your palms sweat, you feel a clench in your throat and stomach, all your body tingles and you are ready to fight or flight. What I am describing happens in almost any physical threatening situation. And to have fear in this moment is normal and human. Fear is part of our survival history. Human beings have survived through millions of years by facing danger and fear. And this is fine. Fear is fine as soon as it doesn’t drive us nuts and crazy and unfolds into very dysfunctional and self-destructive behaviors. We must understand that it is ok to experience fear.