Originally written - April 5th, 2011 by White Wolf
Fear is a commonly misunderstood emotion within this physical life. It runs the lives of more people than not, yet its affects are so potent most people do their very best to avoid analysis of the emotion. I find fear is usually only partly discovered within people because the defense system of the brain and personality itself does a fair job in covering fear up.
Through about a decade and a half of training and working in government agency paramilitary black ops, I have to say I became well versed in the ways of fear. Not only were we trained in fear levels, but of course we were continually exposed to each throughout our employment as well as afterward within the context of healing.
Freud stated in his book Civilization & its Discontents that adulthood and civilization are just high level and complex defenses structured upon primal, child-emotions to hide those emotions and trick us into feeling above them. But the defenses have weak spots, glitches where the true nature bleeds through. Hunger drive, sex drive, death drive, etc, etc, etc… and all the emotions, positive and negative legacy emotions connected to those drives.
Fear is a primal emotion of this life. The effects of fear are so unpleasant that many people build defense systems to hide the fear, even from themselves. Fear creates various levels of anxiety feelings which directly affect both the brain function and body functions. What is rolling through the brain with intensity also runs through the body. Fear can create a simple nervousness or on the other extreme, a complete meltdown of neural functions placing someone in a serious state of shock, or the systematic shutdown of the nervous system.
Fear of course has its natural place in the world. As a primitive emotion it can warn us of danger in order to help keep us protected and alive. However, fear can also be triggered and exaggerated by the brain into overreactions to things that do not require a fear response. If you round a bend on a dry desert trail in the high flats of Arizona and see a rattlesnake laying there in the sun, your brain releases stress hormones and induces fear. Your brain has been conditioned in life to understand that the bite of a rattlesnake is poisonous and can certainly harm or even kill you. Therefore when you see a rattlesnake in front of you, the conditioned brain responds with the very primal emotion of fear. The body reacts in accordance to its own conditioning to the fear/stress hormones your brain produces. This is natural and useful fear.
On the other hand, fear can be triggered in situations that do not warrant it. This kind of fear can create many difficulties in life and how we all function in it.
Fear itself is nothing more than data. It is an emotional reaction to a person/animal, place, thing, or event. The “thing” could be a memory. Fear is the brain communicating data to your brain and body that something in your conditioning, whether learned or inherited, associates something with danger. But fear is just data; it is not the danger external. When we learn to observe the fear within, from a neutral standing, we can gain understanding. If we let fear override our ability to make rational conscious choices we are unable to remove ourselves from the fear enough to understand what it is communicating to us.
Fear unobserved and not understood becomes a prison, a slave master that controls our lives. But again, because the ‘feelings” we experience during fearful states are so unpleasant, and society deems being afraid as being weak, our brains devise defense mechanisms to hide the fear deep inside. These internal places are the place of the unknown within us all. This is where fear builds its home in our depths.
We must understand that fear is an emotional reaction based upon remembered fear, either through our own conscious memory or through inherited memory from our base instincts. The reactions we have to fear; anger, shyness, guilt, shame, and many others are not so much reactions to fear but rather the remembrance of fear from our pasts. Fearing fear more than a situation that our brains might use to trigger fear. Fear of fear usually prevents us from falling into the full-blown effects of fear and acts more as a check-relief valve that can instantly cover what we are feeling. This of course does not quite hold true of people coming from extreme trauma backgrounds, especially in or starting in childhood when the brain was still developing. Children’s brains exposed to extreme trauma fail to develop “normally” as I have written about before and countless others have studied and documented on in-depth. This creates “different” mental reactions later in life than adults who did not have high trauma childhoods.
What we do not understand we fear, so goes the old saying. If we do not understand fear we will fear the fear itself, as the other old saying goes.
Anger is a cover for fear. I would not believe this for most of my life, but through calm and neutral observation over time I have discovered this reality. When we get angry it is because we are afraid of something and the anger becomes both a self defense mechanism towards that which we fear and a cover to hide the fear. Not all people get angry through fear of course, but anger grows from fear in the emotional gardens of many.
Interestingly there are only really five kinds of primal fears of which all other fears and fear labels set upon or grow out of. Through my own therapy for CPTSD, with the assistance of my counselor, I have been finding these five primal fears. The five fears are:
All fear grows from one or more of the above listed. See how many fears you can list and then see which of those five primal fears the ones you list fit with. I would be very interested if you can find any that do not fit with one of the five primal fears in the above list.
I like to look at the hand as a reminder of that list. The hand has five fingers and then hand is a great representation of that list. What does the hand do?
It is important to be aware of the fact of which many of the professional manipulators, mass media, corporations, military units, government agencies, and so on understand the mechanics of fear and do everything in their power to employ devious strategies to manipulate people on a regular basis. Control through fear. We have all experienced this first-hand.
Even seemingly basic phobias spanning people’s lives from childhood; fear of dogs, spiders, strangers, wilderness, cities and so on come from one of the 5 core fears, not from the objects themselves. If you were attacked by a dog as a child you may have developed a fear of dogs that you carry through life, but you are not actually afraid of the dog itself. Instead your fear might be based in #3- death, or perhaps #5- bodily destruction. The dog is just a symbol your brain has adopted from one experience to trigger those core fears behind the symbol.
Once we can gain an understanding of what fear is and where it comes from, we can begin to identify what we are truly afraid of, why and how we deal with it. It is a first step to personal healing and emotional freedom. It is something I have been working on very specifically. I have been finding it a bit more challenging though because my brain is wired a bit differently due to the major interference in its development as a child enduring the traumas I did. Nonetheless, it is a necessary process in healing and so I embrace it.
Hopefully you will find something of interest here and perhaps discover something in yourself that will place you one step further towards personal emotional freedom. It is important to remember, fear is one of the most difficult emotions to work with, work through and transform because our brains are developed to remember fear the most. Why – because it is a primal survival emotion of which without most of us would have placed ourselves in the way of extreme danger and perished long ago before we ever reached adulthood. Nevertheless, successful training of any combat art (and even more so the successful employment of techniques in real situations) requires the self awareness and understanding of personal fears as well as fear in others, and most importantly the self honesty it takes to admit the truth of it to the self.
Elder White Wolf: