Living in Constant Fear

Fear remains deeply entrenched within us; it is one of the most primitive of emotions that ensures self-preservation. This emotion is mediated by the limbic system, which is phylogenetically the oldest of the nervous systemIt is an integral third of the ‘fight, fright and flight’ response. Fear as a physiological reaction has a definite evolutionary role, but when it outgrows this primal scope and becomes pathological, it can wreak havoc. Fear plays an integral role in determining the happiness quotient of life.

The index of equanimity is guided by the degree of the fear of the unknown. It can drive a person to paranoia if he is a control freak or redeem him totally if he surrenders to the unknown. Fear is in the future, never in the present. Eventually, today becomes the tomorrow that we feared yesterday.

There is a primordial form of fear that keeps one always on the edge. It is ‘existential angst’. It is characterised by a sense of a constant persecution, a fear of a grand conspiracy, and a sense of impending doom.

This psychological anxiety, sooner than later, manifests as a plethora of somatic ailments. The following story is illustrative: There was once a little mouse that lived in constant fear of the cat. The anxiety of running into the cat made it live a life of misery. God, overcome with sympathy, decided to turn the mouse into a cat so as to allay its fears. No sooner did this happen than the cat began to get nightmares about the dog. Wanting to appease the tortured soul, God turned the cat into a dog. However, the newly-created dog now began to get fearful thoughts about being chased by the tiger.

The Omniscient One understands even without words, and soon enough, the dog was converted into a tiger. Becoming a tiger should have been the end of all his woes, but no, this ‘tiger’ felt the creeps at the thought of an armed hunter, who might spot him and then. At this point, God turned the tiger back into a mouse. He said to the mouse, “No physical form will ever rid your of your fear, because the fear is not of your form. It is in your imagination, and that unfortunately is not in my control.

On closer examination it is evident that fear stems from resentment and anxiety about imminent unpleasant events. Despite the knowledge of one’s helplessness in shaping the turn of future events, fear stems from the imaginary “What if?”. It is common knowledge that anxiety about an unpleasant event is worse than actually dealing with the event itself. This is because the imagination conjures all sorts of potential ‘worse than’ scenarios. The actual event very often passes off as an anti-climax.

Thus fear tends to magnify only the negative outcomes. A positive attitude in such situations leans more on ‘better than’ scenarios. Both schools of thought don’t change reality. They only modulate the mindset by making it either bearable or unbearableIf fear were to be viewed merely as a biological construct, just an instinct for survival, then the tiny mouse would be as fearless as the hunter without physically having to transform into one.

(article by Deepak Ranade.)

brought to you by:

Dr.Hemant MittaL
Motivational Speaker - Mind-Body Healer
(MBBS, PG.DPM, M.D.(Mind Mantra Wellness Concepts - Mumbai))
(Specialize in Emotional, Behavioural, Sleep, Memory, Concentration and Sexual Health)
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