Woman with long dark hair, standing at a beach in Scarborough, New Zealand, with a vail over where her eyes are, trailing behind her in the wind. Fear.

The Concept of Fear

An Overview of Fear

The word fear itself makes you worry and anxious or excited and exhilarated. Depends on your perception. For most of us, however, it’s the single most reason why we never achieve what we want to achieve. Fear, however, is a concept, an idea.

Most people are stopped by this one word – Fear. Others find it exhilarating. There is a reason behind this. When you mix fear with a feeling of anxiety you get a negative outcome – you worry, get depressed, anxious of what’s to come. If you mix fear with excitement you get a positive outcome – excitement, looking forward to the event, elation. Such as rollercoasters, driving at high speeds, jumping out of a perfectly good plane into thin air (why? my dad had a point there) will make you feel one or the other.

That’s not the kind of fear I’m referring to here. The fear or more correctly fears, that I’m talking about are the ones that we have that we are mostly unaware of, until they are brought into the light. These concepts of fear are biases and beliefs that we have.

Now, fear is not just a standalone feeling. It comes with a mixture of emotions and feelings.

I believe that there is a direct link between our fears and the emotions of vulnerability, shame and self-esteem. It is in combination with those deeper emotions that stop us acting on what we want to do, rather than just the concept of fear itself. I call them deeper not because they do not surface, but because they are emotions we are not willing to speak out on or express directly.

In 1938 Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich” was published. One of the chapters lists the six basic fears. I will cover these below, but while you read through each of them keep in mind the deeper emotions of shame, of feeling vulnerable, of your self esteem. As you read ask yourself how these deeper emotions affect your decisions.

We start with the one concept of fear that is most likely at the back of everyones mind and the driving force why they keep doing the job they do, instead of going after the life they want:

The Fear of Poverty

It is a fear of lack of money, to pay the bills, for food, to run the car, to send the kids to school. For someone else, poverty is not being able to get clean water.

The fear of lack of anything that we need in our lives, is what causes worry and stress. Both of these emotions can manifest physically in a form of illness – headaches, tension, cold and flu. I will even go as far as to say that I believe that symptoms such as backaches and more severe illnesses are caused by our mental state – an effect now referred to as the Nocebo effect.

A lack of anything is not the problem; a lack of perspective is. Fear is a concept, an idea, a belief. If your mind is focussed on lack, on poverty, what do you expect to get, to bring, to create in your own life?

The old proverb is, “You reap what you sow” (Jim Rohn).

We create this fear in our own minds by believing that our lot is what we see, instead of changing the vision in our mind to prosperity and abundance. That’s the irony of it.

Think of it this way – you are where you are because of the choices and mindset you’ve had up to now. What if you changed your ideas and thoughts? What if you chose to see something better?

The way to replace a consciousness of poverty is to replace it with a consciousness of abundance and prosperity. Rather than seeing the “reality” in front of you, begin to see a reality where you are living the life you want, with abundance and prosperity.

Now, I’m not talking just about money. Be careful not to fall into that trap that most people do. We are talking about the whole of your life. Your health, your relationships, your career, the service you provide, your free time, and your finances.

You could say, “Whats the point of dreaming? It is what it is”. Well, that’s why you are still where you are. Because you are not willing to accept the possibility of change. Or maybe you’ve just got so comfortable where you are that you are afraid of the change itself. Besides, what have you got to loose in sitting down and imagining a better life? Disappointment? Only if you fail to act.

The Fear of Criticism

This is the worry and fear of what your family and other people, including strangers, might say if you fail in an endeavour you want to go after. It stops you from acting on your idea.

It could even be an idea, a thought, of unspoken words that you have created, that stops you living a life that you want.

Most of us don’t act on something we want to do, because of others opinions. You hear the pro’s and con’s, and accept that perception, that opinion, without looking at the other possibility that you may, that you can succeed.

It’s down to whether you have a mindset of success or a mindset of failure. On that point, failure is not the same as quitting. You can fail a thousand times trying to do something, but as long as you learn from each step and keep going, you have not quitted. The direction you take to achieve your goal may change, but that’s not quitting – it’s being flexible and open to change.

Then there’s the self-talk, that voice that tells you, “you can’t”… if you let it tell you so.

Your own emotions sabotage you with doubt, fear and lack of belief, in yourself and the outcome.

These criticisms hold us back. The fear of criticism is one of the fears that create the fear of failure, for you fear what will be said if you fail, the shame of failure, the loss of money, the re-affirmation of those who told you you couldn’t do it or it couldn’t be done.

Regardless, you still worry even after the fact that others have faced the same adversities as you, and some have faced worse. To build up your belief, read about the people that have succeeded in what you want to do and what they had to endure to get where they are now. You’ll soon find that you are not in such a bad position to start with.

You and I are no different to those that succeeded. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, someone else has done it before you in some way. If they can, so can you.

But, be reasonable. If you want to be a professional athlete and have never done any sport, it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to be a professional athlete. You have to train to get there.

Ask yourself if what you want feels natural to you.

What others think and say about you will change. Remember humility and listen, but take on only what is useful.

They don’t see what you see and you will see the end, working from the end, visualising the end, feeling it as if it is already here.

See the end, let others opinions and your fears of criticism be, and act on what you know you should be doing.

The Fear of Ill Health

From as far back as I can recall, I remember listening to people talking about their illnesses. It seemed that everyone had some form of illness or disability or expecting to have one or the other. And they always had people to agree with them or somehow seemed to find other people who where of the same idea.

Isn’t it odd that they attract the same kind of people to their group?

If you recalled such a conversation, did you feel yourself shrinking a bit, feeling “that” illness in some way?

Don’t be surprised. Most of us are empathic – we feel the others pain and discomfort. The only people that are believed to not feel ANY empathy at all are narcissists and psychopaths.

What of the group of people with the illnesses? We attract that which we are. The energy we give out is the people we attract. Not forgetting that if you sit next to someone who is talking about their symptoms, someone that overhears them will want to add their own story.

These people don’t realise that the more they talk about it, the more they install the idea of ill health into their subconscious mind. Their idea of ill health becomes a subconscious goal.

Always keep in mind that every negative thought draws with it a negative feeling. Try it on yourself. Then try a positive thought and see if you get an automatic feeling with it.

Positive feelings are linked to events in our lives, but, we can build those feelings to any event. As with everything else, it takes effort.

All these are caused as a result of a lack of thinking right.

Can we get ill just like that? I believe we can. We either do it through belief and it becomes a psychosomatic event, or, because we have set ourselves a subconscious goal, our mental system has no other option but to make it happen. Just like it would be on the opposite spectrum, when we set ourselves a goal to be healthy and fit we avoid everything that goes against it. In the same way an illness mentality will cause us to take on things that will bring that illness on.

There is the matter of genetic illnesses, although, in theory, we can change that as well – if we believed that we could that is.

In his “Meditations”, Marcus Aurelius refers to how when Epicurus was ill, he would not talk about the illness he carried, but focussed instead on the matter at hand, whatever that may have been.

So, rather than talking about an illness, talk about matters that are important to you. Talk about your health in a positive way. Even if you do have an injury or an illness, talk as if you have already recovered from it. Think of health – accept good health as your natural state of being and existence.

And remember, that since we are created in the image of God, perfect health is not only a divine right, but it is what we are.

If you focus on poor health you are setting an intention in your mind. The consequence is poor health.

The Fear of Loss of Love

Why do so many people have a fear of either not having it or losing it?

Isn’t it strange that when we fall in love we fear losing that person? What about a mother who fears for the safety of her child? The man or woman who is sitting alone in their flat or house, wondering if they will ever find love?

Is it true that each of us has a soulmate, that person that completes us? Or is it just by luck we come across that person?

It’s not strange, this fear. This can range from the fear of losing someone you are in love with, to your children, family or not receiving love at all. It encompasses all the complexities of love. As for a soulmate, I believe it to be true and I’m talking from experience.

It is a case of mind; the way we think creates this fear, as for all the other fears. We create imaginary situations because of what we have seen on television, heard or read in the news and fears that we hold. Jealousy arises from the same source.

And then there’s the same of a relationship ending after you believed it be “the one”. You avoid ending a relationship because of fear of criticism from your friends and family and from their side as well.

Some of us fear to be alone, as a result finding ourselves going from one relationship to another to another. Or we leave relationships because we fear rejection. These can be deep seeded beliefs from childhood or from our personal experience.

This fear is one of the more complex ones because it has so many different angles to it. It links to the last fear on our list as well, but more on that later.

When looking for a partner, know the type of person you want in your life; emotionally, physically, career, family, financially. Be specific and write it down. Then let it be and follow your instinct, not your fears. Don’t act out of scarcity, but allow yourself the time for things to happen.

This fear is only as real as the thought we give it. Living in the present and being aware of where we are, gives us an insight and clarity of what we have and what we need to do.

The Fear of Old Age

Let me ask you – why do we fear something that is happening to us every second of our lives and will continue until the end of our days?

And so many people try to get out of getting older by changing the way they look through operations and creams. Okay, I admit that is more of an aesthetic matter and one based on vanity and, of course, fear of getting older. Not so much a concept but a physical truth. Or is it? Could it be that fearing getting old and looking old could be bringing on that change?

The words “old age” are synonymous to getting to a point in your life when you return to the start of your life, having people look after you because you cant look after yourself. This fear incorporates one of the other fears, that of ill health.

There are times when an individual will find themselves in that situation, but most people continue to live healthy lives to the end of their days. The average life expectancy worldwide is about 70 years.

The thing with the concept of old age is a societal one and the picture painted by society. Old age should be synonymous to a concept of experience, knowledge and a life lived.

Age defines us by the way our bodies age. Internally there will also be changes. Provided we maintain a healthy lifestyle and not excessive either way, we can live out our years healthily and of our own control.

We’re not machines and even machines need care to remain effective. Have you tried driving a car without ever putting it in for service?

Old age is a concept meaning incapacity and poor health, when there are so many examples of people who are anything but that in their advanced years.

Health and fitness are key, in conjunction with a healthy mindset. Look at yourself in a different light and create an image of health and fitness, of maturity, better knowledge and understanding of all people and things.

Change the words “old age” with “advanced and wiser”. Ignore societies idea of what it “should” be and be the one that “grows old disgracefully”, by not accepting the status quo.

The Fear of Death

The fear comes not from the inevitable, but, from the when, how and what after.

We fear our own death, because, we don’t know when it’s going to happen. The thought of our life being cut short whilst succeeding or that we didn’t get to where we wanted to go, can feel us with dread of an incomplete life. A mother or father not seeing their child grow up; a father or mother that will not see the grandchildren or the wedding of their child.

We fear the how, because, the news and television dramas show us and tell us of how people have died in horrible circumstances. But, rarely do they tell us of someone passing away peacefully. The media shows us a small percentage of what happens. Most of us pass away peacefully.

Then comes the one part that cannot be answered – what happens next. Those people that have had a near death experience, tell of a white light that draws them in and a feeling of pure love.

Marcus Aurelius, as a stoic, would say that it is what it is and a natural part of life. To focus on the now and let the rest be.

Personally, I have always looked at death as a part of life and the final lesson in this lifetime.

The truth is that we don’t know the when, how or what.

And that is what makes life worth living. The not knowing, that everyday matters, every minute, because we don’t know.

Every minute is precious, so we need to put life into every minute.

Follow your heart and live your passion by doing what you are meant to be doing – that thing that you love to do that just so happens to provide service to others. Find your meaning to life, your reason why you are alive and decide to follow that.

I want to cover one last bit. The fear of losing someone through death – we don’t only fear losing them physically, not being able to see them again, but also the emotional connection that goes with it, hence the connection with the loss of love. It’s also the matter of words unsaid and actions not taken that can leave us remorseful and at times bitter.

Be careful of the bitterness – if it persists it is like a snakebite; the bite may heal but your thought of it makes it endure. It’s better to let it go, forgive yourself and others. You’ll be better for it.

My advice is quite simple – think of the best times and if they weren’t any, forgive.

When I think of my dad I remember the humour, the sarcasm and the love. I could think of the arguments, fights and lose tempers, but that is not what I choose to remember. I choose to remember the love.

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
Marie Curie

See Brené Brown’s TED talk on The power of vulnerability and her talk on Shame, which is on the same page.

Photograph by: Oscar Keys on Unsplash


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