The only thing we have to fear is fear itself- Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Root of Fear and what it is?
Let us first look at what is fear? If we can understand the problem with desire then we will understand and be free from fear. ‘I want to be something’ – that is the root of fear itself. When I want to be something, my desire to be something and my not being that something creates fear, not only in a narrow sense but in the widest sense possible. So as long as there is the desire to be something there must be fear.
Observing this root of fear
Can the mind possibly observe fear? Your fear: fear of death, fear of life, fear of loneliness, fear of darkness, fear of being a nobody, fear of been hurt, fear of been deceived, fear of not becoming a great success, fear of not being a leader, fear of so many different things. First of all, is one aware of it? Or one tends to lead such a superficial life, only talking about something else and so one is never aware of oneself, of one’s own fears.
Then if one does become aware of those fears, at what level do you become aware? Is it an intellectual awareness of them or are you actually aware of your fears at a degree of deeper level that is in the hidden recesses of the mind? And if they are so hidden, how are they to be exposed? Must you go to an analyst? But the analyst is you; he needs to be analysed too!
So how do you uncover the whole structure and deal with the intricacies of fear? This is a tremendous problem, not just to be listened to for two or three minutes and then forgotten but to find out for oneself whether it is possible to expose all fears, or whether there is only one central fear that has many branches.
When one sees the central fear the branches begin to wither away. If the mind can understand the root of fear then the branches, the various aspects of fear has no meaning, they wither away. So what is the root of fear? Can you look at your fear? Please look at it now, invite it. Naturally you are not afraid now, sitting here, but you know what your fears are: loneliness, not being loved, not being beautiful, frightened of losing your job, etc.
By looking at one fear, at your particular fear, you can then see the root of that fear is the root of all fear. You will observe and see for yourself that through one fear you discover the very root of all fear.
There is no illusion greater than fear- Lao Tzu
So can you observe your fear like a tough nut? Through one fear trace the very root of all fear? Let us understand that ‘The self’ is the root of all fear. To inhibit or suppress fear is not to transcend or surpass it; its cause must be self-discovered then understood and finally dissolved. To understand consciousness, one has to be really free, totally, of fear. It is only with direct contact with fear that you are free.
Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run Or Face everything and rise’
We have to understand fear and be completely free of it, right through your being that is the goal. Paradoxically, you can only do it when there is no escape of any kind. When you understand this, you are directly in contact with fear. In that contact there is no time interval, there is no saying, ‘I will get over it,’ or ‘I will develop courage,’ when you are frightened. We are dealing with facts here, and we cannot deal with what is if there is any form of escape, conscious or even unconscious.
When you come directly into contact with fear, there is a response of the nerves. When the mind is no longer escaping through words or through activity of any kind, there is no division between the observer and the thing observed as fear. It is the mind that is escaping that separates itself from fear. But when there is a direct contact with fear there is no observer, there is no entity that says, ‘I am afraid.’ So, the moment you are directly in contact with life, with anything, there is no division and it is this division that breeds competition, ambition and fear.
If you seek a way or a method or a system to be rid of fear, you will everlastingly be caught in fear. But if you understand fear, which can only take place when you come directly in contact with it then you do something. Only then will you find that all fear ceases – we mean all fear, not fear of this kind or of that kind in particular. Because out of the freedom and the understanding and the learning about fear comes intelligence, and intelligence is the essence of freedom. And there is no intelligence if there is any form of conflict, and conflict must exist as long as there is fear.
Conditioning is the very root of fear, and where there is fear there is no virtue. To go into this profoundly requires a great deal of intelligence, and we mean by intelligence the understanding of all influence and being free of it.
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown- H.P. Lovecraft
The Physical and Emotional Effects of Fear
Without fear, an individual’s chances of day-to-day survival would likely diminish. In this way, fear can be healthy; it helps people keep away from dangerous or harmful situations by triggering a “fight or flight” response. Fear often affects people physically and emotionally.
Fear may cause someone to experience an enhanced perception of space and time, or their senses of sight, hearing, and smell may be heightened. In life-threatening situations, fear can also reduce the ability to notice fine detail while increasing the capacity to distinguish large or blurry objects. These adjustments in perception can increase a person’s chance of survival in a dangerous or savage situation.
You may experience a variety of physical responses when experiencing fear, such as:
- Temporary paralysis or an erratic heartbeat
- Stomach pain, head pain, or nausea
- Dizziness or fainting
- Muscle tension, twitching, or trembling
- Erratic sleep patterns
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid or shallow breathing
Psychological effects of fear can include intrusive or distracting thoughts, loss of focus, and confusion. People may also experience a variety of emotional effects, including terror, anxiety, anger, despair, numbness, or helplessness.
Here are 12 ways to try and overcome fear:
- Understand fear and then embrace it Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform your actions, but not control them.
- Don’t just do something, sometimes just stand there! When fear strikes consider whether the correct action might be to analyze the options and make a wise, well thought out choice rather than jumping to what seems right in the heat of the moment.
- Name the fear and focus Sometimes merely stating what your fear is gives you the strength to deal with it. Say your fear out loud, write it down, or focus your mind on it. When you try to ignore your fear, it grows. When you face it, it shrinks.
- Think and consider long term If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be afraid you won’t make the next payroll. But what’s your three month outlook, or the outlook for three years from now? Thinking about the long term won’t fix your short term problem, but it can help you think about it more objectively and come up with the right solution.
- Educate yourself to the core We are afraid of nothing so much as the unknown. If your fear is based on a lack of information, then get the information or knowledge you need to examine the situation based on facts rather than mere speculation.
- Prepare, practice, role play and repeat If your fear is related to your performance in a certain activity then prepare, practice, and role play and repeat the same till you hit perfection.
- Utilize peer pressure for your good Peer pressure, like fear, can be positive or negative depending on how it’s displayed. Surround yourself with people who will push you to overcome the fears that are holding you back from what you want.
- Visualize success for greatness Athletes may imagine the successful completion of a physical task thousands of times before achieving it. This mental mapping ensures that when the body moves, it’s more likely to follow its pre-decided path.
- Gain a sense of proportion first How big of a deal, really, is the thing you are afraid of? We sometimes get so caught up in the success or failure of a particular quest that we lose sense of where it fits in or not with everything else we value.
- Get help if need be Whatever you’re afraid of, is it something you have to do alone? Can you find a mentor or support group to help you through it?
- Have a positive attitude for your own good Would you keep working long after others would have given up? People who have positive attitudes are successful because they keep trying after others give up.
- Be willing to turn on pivot If you’re afraid to do something again because it didn’t work out the last time, figure out why it didn’t work, and try something different before you give up trying altogether.
Fears are nothing more than a state of mind- Napoleon Hill
Author: Trishna Patnaik
About the writer:
Trishna Patnaik, a Bsc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years now. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion, that is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, “It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to everyday.” Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India. Trishna is an art therapist and healer too. She works with clients on a one on one basis in Mumbai.