What do you Fear?

by Robert Elias Najemy

Overcoming Fear Part I: "We Have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself" Franklin Theodore Roosevelt

Indeed fear is our greatest obstacle to happiness, peace and fulfillment on a personal, social and international level. All anger, hatred, prejudice, aggression, violence, and war can be ultimately attributed to fear.

Fear is the Mother of All Negative Emotions

From the moment we relinquished the security of our motherÕs womb and had our umbilical cord cut, we experienced separation, isolation, insecurity and fear.

We fear for our bodies and personalities because we know they are vulnerable and mortal. Out of fear, we seek to create some sense of security by ensuring that we have sufficient people, money, and objects, as well as a professional and social position, etc. in our lives.

Then we experience a second level of fear: the fear that we might not be able to hold onto everything we have acquired. We might lose them to death, decay or change.

We fear not having what we need in order to feel secure and happy.
We fear losing these things when we do have them.
We fear others who might take these things from us.
We fear change that might make them disappear.
We fear death, which means losing all this.

Some Types of Fears

There are literally thousands of various manifestations of fear. We can fear just about anything our imagination allows. Let us list just a few, while remembering that they all stem from the basic fear of pain, rejection or extinction of the ego or its various attachments.

  • Some of us are afraid of animals, insects, spiders, cockroaches, centipedes, snakes, birds and other wild animals.
  • We fear each other and the opposite sex.
  • The poor fear the rich and the rich the poor.
  • Movies, television and newspapers do much to increase our feelings of mistrust, vulnerability and fear, by concentrating on violence, both real and imaginary. We have learned to perceive our fellow beings as a threat to our safety and happiness.
  • Those of one race tend to fear those of another.
  • Some nations create nationalistic feelings by generating fear of other countries.
  • Those, whose religious beliefs are weak, tend to mutate into fanatics out of fear of being wrong. The idea is that the more people you can get to believe what you believe, the more right you must be.
  • We may fear heights, confined spaces, open spaces, the ocean, fire, airplanes, trains, cars, elevators, or machines in general.
  • Some fear lightning, thunder, storms, earthquakes or even strong wind.
  • We also might fear exams, making mistakes, classrooms or failing in general
  • Or perhaps letting go, expressing our real feelings or beliefs.
  • Many of us are afraid of telling the truth.
  • We fear rejection and criticism, or not being loved or accepted.
  • Some of us are afraid of falling "in love" or creating a love relationship because of the pain it may bring.
  • Most fear speaking in front of large groups of people.
  • We fear not being loved if people really know us.
  • We fear growing old and getting ill.
  • We fear losing someoneÕs love.
  • We might subconsciously fear not having enough to eat.
  • We have learned to fear God, nature, and the elements.
  • Most fear cemeteries and spirits of the dead.

Finally, there is the fear of all fears-- the fear of darkness.

For many of us darkness offers a festive occasion for fear to play with our imagination. A dark, unfamiliar room (or even a familiar one after seeing one of those horror films) becomes quite threatening. Darkness is the unknown and therefore is associated with danger and death. The mind can imagine anything hiding in the darkness. We are ignorant of what lies in darkness and thus identify it with danger and death.

Of all these fears the most common are of:

  1. Rejection
  2. Failure
  3. Death of a loved one
  4. Our own death
  5. Illness and weakness
  6. Physical and / or emotional pain
  7. People and animals

A List of Fears

Take a look at the following list to see which stimuli or thoughts might sometimes cause you to feel uncomfortable. Basic fears can be expressed in an infinite number of ways according to each personÕs specific mental mechanisms.

The various expressions of fear have different names, such as insecurity, anxiety, concern, weakness, worry, inability, confusion, fear itself, depression, denial, shock, hysteria, panic, paralysis, anger, hate, rage, aggressiveness, violence, jealously, etc.

Remember that sometimes fears can be subconscious, thus, although our basic emotion is fear, we might react with anger or crying. Even when we may not consciously fear, our inner child or subconscious may. Check on this list whatever makes you feel uncomfortable and add anything else you discover.

  • Your own death
  • Sudden death by accident
  • Death of a loved one
  • Illness
  • Being paralyzed
  • Growing old
  • War
  • Earthquakes
  • Snakes, rats, mice, cockroaches
  • Dogs, cats
  • Failure at work
  • Failure in relationships
  • Failure at school,
  • Failure in life
  • Rejection from others
  • Being laughed at by others
  • Criticism
  • Loneliness
  • Financial insecurity
  • OthersÕ aggressiveness
  • The dark
  • The unknown
  • God or his punishment
  • Losing your freedom
  • Losing your self-worth
  • Conflicts with others
  • The sea, heights, fires
  • Cars, planes, boats
  • Elevators, confined spaces
  • Large gatherings of people
  • Travelling by your self
  • Losing your sanity
  • Being rejected in a love relationship
  • The opposite sex
  • Microbes and dirt
  • Others_________________________________

  • Now keep in mind what you fear as you continue reading. The next sections of this series will offer us effective means of freeing ourselves from fear. If we care for our bodies and minds, they will care for us. Be Well. Copyright © Robert Elias Najemy.