What Are We Afraid Of?

For many of us, most often, fear is the key.  Our actions are driven by fear, just as much as our lack of action might be.  What are we afraid of?

Wikipedia says –Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response) but in extreme cases of fear (terror) a freeze or paralysis response is possible.  Some psychologists such as John B. Watson,Robert Plutchik, and Paul Ekman have suggested that fear belongs to a small set of basic or innate emotions. This set also includes such emotions as joysadness, and anger

It is interesting to note that fear is a feeling, and therefore something we can control (can we?).  Fear is also based on perception and awareness, again something we can control.  But Wikipedia adds:

It is worth noting that fear almost always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable. Fear can also be an instant reaction to something presently happening. All people have an instinctual response to potential danger. This emotion is described as fear and it is pre-programmed into all people.[2] Fear, whatever its source, can become a controlling factor in a person’s life.[3]Fear can channel one’s energies away from areas of perceived threats and into directions that seem safe.[4]

It seems fear is an “instinctual response”.  How do we control it then?  Well, the first step is to recognize it when it happens.  It is for us to understand it better, and identify which heuristics are leading to it in our mind.  Our first responsibility to ourselves is to think!

Our problem might be in how we think about responsibility.  Almost always, people relate responsibility with a burden, with the liability or the blame we carry about something.  This thinking itself is the result of our perception and awareness, and therefore has the same opportunities of correcting our perception by increasing awareness.  We must distinguish between ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ in our mind.

Responsibility is what we carry before something is done, and Accountability is what we have after we have done it.  It is responsibility we need to do something, to begin doing something,… and accountability for having done it.


One comment on “What Are We Afraid Of?

  1. Charlie says:

    Wonderful thoughts!!!!

    I would like to add a few lines….

    If one looks at what Jagadguru says in Gita :- Karmanye Vadi Karasthe Ma Phaleshu Kadachana it just flows. When one looks at the chimera called result , then there is fear. Fear of the unknown – Will I, Won’t I, When , Why, How etc etc. Many many questions haunt us.

    If one just focuses on the actions that are rooted in dharma (as guided by scriptures), then there is no fear.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s