Healthy Dosage of Fear
Fear is a survival skill. It has allowed our species not only to survive but to thrive. Our fears forced us to establish long-lasting bonds with other humans and animals and have respect for predators and the forces of nature. Fear in itself is not the problem. A healthy dosage of fear was and is necessary for us and our evolution. It is there for an important reason. Hence, it is not something that we can get rid of, make it go away, or pretend that it doesn’t exist.
To our early ancestors, establishing bonds to a group or a clam meant greater chances of survival. Countless studies revealed that bonding to babies, other human beings, and animals releases oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. But there is a lot more to this hormone than bonding. Oxytocin is now known to act directly in the region of the brain governing fear, the amygdala. The effect of oxytocin on the amygdala is to release the body’s freeze response. Hence, it allows us to feel the fear and continue moving forwards instead of being completely paralyzed by it. So fear leads to bonding, bonding, in turn, keeps our fears\z in check. The more we fear, the more we tend to bond, and the more we bond, the better we can cope with our fears.
During our early humble existence on this planet, we were far from the top of the food chain. The warning signal of fears not only kept us alive but forced us to be respectful of our surroundings and the forces of nature. Such respect is no longer essential for our survival. With the help of our technological advancements, we moved up the food chain and no longer need to fear nature in the same way. As a direct result of this loss of respect, today, we face many environmental problems.
How do our fears become so distorted?
I love analogies. So, here is one to help us understand how fear gets distorted. Imagine that there is a door to in your inconsistent. Hidden behind this door there is a sort of transmitter. This transmitter, much like an internet modem, transmits warning signals. It warns us of what is safe and unsafe for us to do. We learned to obey it to survive. We also learned to fear our fears and avoid opening that door and checking in the transmitter. And, the only time we do open the door is to dump more junk. However, by doing that, we create a “monster” out of a friend. By avoiding going in through the door we miss out on the opportunity to keep this space organized, clean, and tidy and the transmitter working properly. The lack of light, fresh air, all the accumulated dust, and the piling up of junk causes that transmitter to malfunction. However, even when this transmitter malfunctions, it does not stop working, and it is impossible to turn it off. It keeps on sending us a signal which dictates how we should and shouldn’t behave. However, by now, the signals are distorted.
They are coming from where they should, and our bodies and minds have learned to trust it, so we follow the command. However, the signals are distorted and they prevent us from living our greatest potential in life.
How to fine-tune it?
To fix such distortions, the door housing the transmitter has to be open. The light of awareness needs to enter the room, and air needs to circulate freely. That is a great beginning. When we finally stop avoiding opening that door transformation begins. Then, we have to look at what lays behind the door, clean the space, and pick up the junk. This is not an easy task, and it takes work, dedication, and determination. in order to fine-tune our transmitter of fear, it is necessary to have self-compassion and listen carefully and attentively to what is being transmitted by our fears. Just as if you were to finetune an instrument, you can’t possibly do it without listening to it carefully and attentively. Yoga can be a tool to open that door. It teaches us to be present, listen, and be compassionate with ourselves. It helps us to clean the spaces and pick up the junk. It gives us courage, strength, and discipline to complete the task ahead.