Understand Fear to Reduce Stress

Posted on May 18, 2013 by

What is fear and why do we need it?

When you understand exactly what your fear is, and why it makes your life better, you’ll be able to control it. When you can’t control fear, it can breed anxiety, stress, depression, or OCD. First, understand that you are not alone;  almost all humans feel the same way at one point. Everyone has something to dread, whether he or she admits it or not. Second, remember that your fear is a significant part of your brain, and it’s there for a reason.

So what exactly is the definition of fear? Many people hear that fear means “False Evidence Appearing Real”. As this acronym spreads, people believe it to be true, and then they regurgitate it in conversation; this is the exact definition of a myth. Fear is actually the brain’s expectation of pain or suffering in any way. Your brain is alert to cause and effect, so it knows what lies ahead and sometimes it panics.

We need this fear, as we need all emotions. This is why people sometimes seek out fear, through haunted attractions or thrilling adventures. Fear is an escape from the triteness of everyday life, and it makes us feel alive. Fear truly makes us human.

Below, you’ll see five major fears that are common in most people, and the reasoning behind them. When you know and understand what frightens you, you can address it and harness it, using the emotion to move your life forward.

  1. Pain
    Pain is subjective, but most people dread pain to the point where they expect it to be worse than it actually is. Your brain knows something unpleasant is on the way
  2. The Unknown
    The fear of the unknown is common for people, most of us experience this as kids, when we were afraid of the dark. We need to know what lies ahead, so we can prepare for what will happen to us, this ties in with a fear of losing control. We fear everything about life when we know we can’t control our future, it’s just a part of life. Your brain can’t predict what lies ahead, which terrifies it.
  3. Disappointment
    Some people fear disappointing themselves, while others fear letting down someone else, commonly parents and authoritative figures. This is why it hurts so much more when someone says, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed”. We fear that we cannot meet a certain criteria, and your brain knows an ego blow is just ahead.
  4. Ridicule
    Ridicule, which is similar to Atelophobia, the fear of not being good enough. We want to be well liked and we all have an idea of the image we want to portray in our social lines. Ridicule makes us divert from this idea, and it hurts our feelings. Your brain knows rejection is coming, and it’s not looking forward to it.
  5. Death
    Of course, a fear of death is normal. This connects to our fear of the unknown, because even though there are a million opinions, nobody knows for sure what happens when we pass on. Your brain is aware of this, and it doesn’t know what to expect. It doesn’t know if it can exist in another life or not. A fear of death is normal and healthy, it means you cherish your life.


Debra Burdick, LCSW, BCN, also known as ‘The Brain Lady’, is an international expert on ADHD and Mindfulness. She is an award-winning, #1 best-selling author of: Mindfulness Skills Workbook, Mindfulness Skills for Kids and Teens, ADHD: Non-Medication Treatments and Skills for Children and Teens and Mindfulness for Teens with ADHD. She is an international speaker and retired psychotherapist and neurotherapist, who has been helping all ages thrive for over 30 years.

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Categories: Anxiety, Fear, Stress
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