What fear teaches us

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Fear is an emotion characterized by the psychological behaviour of fight, flight, or freeze, and the physiological manifestations of racing heart beats and quick pulses. Just as courage is commonly believed to be an admirable moral quality, but in actuality isn’t always the case, fear is commonly reckoned to be a negative emotion and an exhibition of weakness. In actuality, fear can be a positive emotion or a negative emotion. 

Being afraid isn’t something to be ashamed of; in fact, it is essential to our survival in the universe. Fear is a signal of danger; a wake-up call to a perceived threat. In fact, if the amygdala (the emotional center of the brain) wasn’t actively functioning, all people will run into danger without caution. Fear protects us and overwhelms us to ensure our survival. It’s your brain’s way of making sure that you don’t get hurt. 

While fear is a wake-up call to danger, it is also an emotion that can be overactive. Overactive fear can make you perceive threats that do not actually exist (or undesirable events that are not likely to take place). And because of the psychological and adverse health effects of persistent, overactive fear, one risks endangering their wellbeing. What truly matters is not getting rid of fear, but rather, getting rid of irrational or overactive fears. 

A person who tends to be fearful is more likely to have a lower quality of life. Fear displaces your sense of freedom, security, safety, and comfort. It sours your life and inhibits progress in positive activities. It also has the capacity to spontaneously increase your blood pressure, which thereby contributes to cardiovascular problems. Regardless of what kind of fear you are experiencing, it certainly disturbs your peace of mind. 

While fear doesn’t always make us happy and comfortable, it teaches us how to survive. It teaches us that it is both dangerous and foolish to take certain actions or make certain choices because there are dangerous consequences attached to them. It teaches us that fire is hot, contaminated foods are bad for the body, and jumping off a two storey building is indeed a bad idea. 

Fear is triggered when pain or suffering is perceived to be imminent. It serves as a warning signal, and springs up with the sole purpose to protect us. Therefore, it is imperative to our very nature. A man who fears with caution is far worthier of respect than a man who shows bravery but lacks caution. Although, bravery is indeed admirable, and even more, desirable and extremely rare, it loses its value once shown in the absence of wisdom. A man who shows fear when appropriate because he is wise is indeed of far greater value.