Fear is rarely the adaptive primal response that can save our lives but rather something that destroys our self-esteem and disrupts our relationships with others. It doesn’t promote good mental health or help communities connect and thrive.
Most of our fear is manufactured by our own selves or others and is often manipulative, destructive, and exploitative. Our current culture thrives on creating and magnifying fear because that’s what gets online clicks and tempts people to tune in. Manufactured fear often triggers manufactured rage. When we come under the influence of manufactured fear, we become a threat to ourselves, to others, and to the foundation of connection in our communities.
Fear or fear of fear can alter the normal functioning of our bodies like breathing, digestion, stress responses, and immunity.
In what other ways can fear hurt us?
If you struggle with anxiety, for example, you might avoid situations that make you anxious. While that might seem like a perfectly good strategy, it can actually drive you to isolate yourself more and then rob you of the ability to learn to manage your emotions and build resilience to lessen your suffering. What’s more when you avoid out of fear you never learn, “Oh wow I can live through this. It really won’t kill me.”
Scientists have taught us that some degree of stress or anxiety isn’t a bad thing because it keeps us motivated and excited. That’s why it’s important to set the expectation that a situation will provoke anxiety which will motivate you to work through it.
So remember this next time you feel fear. Ask yourself if it’s made up fear in your own mind?
Then challenge it. That can help you work through your fears because giving into it robs you of something very valuable–your ability to deepen relationships and develop resilience.