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What’s your deepest fear?: How fear can affect your life

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Fear is a basic survival mechanism that has played a different role in people’s lives now: It is stopping them from living in the present moment and becoming an obstacle on their journey. 

The Dictionary defines fear as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. It is the feeling that something bad may happen. 

People can fear anything related to their lives. They can be afraid of being alone; changing something; losing a beloved one or their own lives; losing their jobs; not being able to afford basic needs such as pay the rent; travelling by plane or by boat; gaining weight or losing weight; not passing an exam, or failing.

Countless fears can be categorised as rational or irrational (Although I’m sure the person who has those fears wouldn’t call them irrational). The irrational fears are often classified as phobias and, again, we can list hundreds of phobias that make life quite challenging for some people such as:

  • Heliophobia: Fear of the sun.
  • Cynophobia: Fear of dogs.
  • Philophobia: Fear of love.
  • Somniphobia: Fear of sleep.
  • Mysophobia: Fear of dirt and germs.
  • Iatrophobia: Fear of doctors.
  • Autophobia: Fear of being alone.

However, what is the difference between fear and phobia?

The psychologist Roger Covin wrote on Huffpost that “a fear is an emotional response to a real or perceived threat”. He argued that fears are universal and are usually considered as normal. On the other hand, “a phobia is similar to a fear with one key difference: the anxiety they experience is so strong that it interferes with their quality of life and/ or their ability to function”.

Dr. Karl Albrecht, who is an executive management consultant, lecturer, and author, suggests that there are five basic fears which are shared by every person in the world.

  • Extinction: It involves fear of no longer exist.
  • Mutilation: The fear of losing some part of the body.
  • Loss of Autonomy: The fear of being paralysed or imprisoned. It is associated with claustrophobia
  • Separation: This happens when someone is afraid of being rejected or abandoned. 
  • Ego-death: This fear is experienced when someone is afraid of being humiliated or disapproved. 

Fear of Failure is related to Ego-death mentioned by Dr. Albrecht. There are numerous tweets and posts on social media websites where people share such fear and try to find a way to overcome it.

The big question is: How can we overcome fear?

Here are a few techniques and some advice to help you:

  • Therapy: A qualified therapist can pinpoint methods to develop a system so you can deal with fear in an attempt to release it. Exposure therapy and Cognitive therapy are excellent options for treatment.
  • Exercise.
  • Keep a diary with things that you are thankful for.
  • Recognise things that you are able to control, reminding yourself how brave you are. Focus your energy on them and try to not think about whatever you cannot control at the moment.
  • Call a friend or someone from your family. Especially these days when we are deprived of gathering due to COVID-19. Talk to them, get distracted and if you feel comfortable, share your fears with them. Maybe you are both in the same boat and can help each other.
  • Get out. Go outside for some fresh air and observe how incredible the world is, despite all the struggles.

What about you? What do you fear the most?

Share your own experience in dealing with fear. What technique works for you? Your story could help someone else who might be going through the same fear.

And don’t forget:

Just breathe.

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