Different Types of Fear

In this article I am going to explore different types of fear. The recent discussions with someone regarding my own fears and inability to overcome them, leads me to explore fear, where do they stem from? The category it falls under, they cause of it and its relation.

My purpose in doing so, is to identify why fears take root in our subconscious and unconscious minds. How to tackle those fears and/or manage or overcome them. Fear is a strong emotion, you can see in the image above how different emotions are ranked on the spectrum. Image was taken from an article I read on neuroscience.

So here’s a clip I found from Dr. Jordan Peterson’s YT channel explaining four different types of fear. Here is what he mentions 1) own inadequacy & malevolence 2) society 3) nature (environment) 4)unknown.

1- Own Inadequacy and malevolence he explains is often felt by soldiers when they find themselves doing things that they have never imagined. An example would be war crime- a soldier raping a civilian.

Personally I have felt this fear in sparring in martial arts and something that made me defensive. To get the aggression out again I had to explore this fear, the only way I was able to explore this fear was to face it, expose myself to it and then overcome it. Did I overcome it? I would not say I overcame it, but this particular fear is what I learnt to manage. I consider this fear a healthy friend, that keeps me calm. Let me give you an example, I get into a confrontation while at a party, entertain me here, do not ask me why I was there in the first place lol, I am just creating a hypothetical situation. A person barges into me, doesn’t apologize and instead gets aggressive, using foul language and tries to intimidate me. Being me or any normal response in this situation will be an adrenaline rush, Fight, Flight or Freeze response will try hijack me. Freezing in this situation will make it worse, fight- I won’t do it because I will have the fear that I might go overboard or use excessive strength because it’s not a sparring situation where I can go light or heavy according to the level of my opponent and rules. This fear, will make me subside the adrenaline rush, let the prefrontal cortex take control of the situation and quickly calculate an appropriate response. These things often happen in milliseconds to perhaps a few minutes. So, quick thinking and confidence to handle the situation becomes key. Ultimately exposure and confidence and situational awareness helps manages this type of fear for me. What really helps here is confidence in ability to diffuse the situation.

2) Society– living in the polarised world, with many different cultures, many different peoples. I think it’s fair to say, that those who don’t conform to the norm are judged by the society. While I won’t go into a lot of details here because then, I will have to explain the characteristics of today’s society. And people will form an opinion as to what views I hold, which side I lean towards.

You see what I done up☝️, that’s some form of fear perhaps of the society judging and forming an opinion on what I write. Withholding my views here can be considered as a result of fear. Oh well, it’s not like I am here to preach my sermon. I am simply trying to elaborate on what different types of fear are like when experienced in real life. Society can be harsh and judgemental as Dr. Peterson says. He also says, courage is what wins over fear. Humans don’t become less fearful, they become more brave. So, courage is what reduces our fears and overcome/manage them. Emotional awareness is a key component, our ability to recognise when these fears are triggered is the first step in overcoming these fears.

3) Nature (Environment) This I suppose is the healthy fear that has been built in us for our survival. Nature can be a relentless force, that can turn things around in an instant, swallow up land. Tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides and storms. It’s natural to fear the wrath of nature. Nature is also loving, the mercy and blessings far extend over the wrath.

4) Unknown– Our minds constantly seek certainty. This search for certainty amidst uncertainty causes anxiety and brews up all sorts of other emotions; one of them being fear. Fear of missing out on opportunities. Fear of losing, fear of unknown. However, if we can learn to embrace uncertainty, then we can take a step towards overcoming the fear of uncertainty. Uncertainty can be fearful, it can be exciting. Uncertainty can be potential, uncertainty can be possibilities. Uncertainty is sure risky but nothing in life comes free. It either has time cost or costs money. These last few lines of wisdom are shared from other great people I have learnt a lot from haha

What you seek is within you- Rumi

Hope is a powerful emotion to replace fear. Hope for a better future, hope for ease after difficulty, hope for achieving the goals. Hope… beyond the scope of this discussion. There is no fear and sorrow concerning those… in the world beyond.

Affairs of the heart

I am a work in progress. I am working towards being a better human being. The essence of our being is reflected in our hearts. Our hearts are like mirrors. They either show our own ugliness, or they show the goodness.

One of the ways that helped me figure out, how many grudges and ill feelings I had been holding inside, was through meditation. I developed this meditation technique back in 2018 after, a friend told me about compassion meditation and shared some interesting facts about how our brains are wired, how the subconscious plays a key role in shaping who we are, and why we feel and do what we feel and do?

This meditation technique is known as Compassion Meditation. A Buddhist practice. The link attached is a short lecture with a guided practice.

I adopted this technique the way it would work for me. Here’s a short description of it, if you prefer to follow this method, I describe it briefly below:

  1. Start by sitting in a relaxed position in a quiet place. Make the body still.
  2. Close the eyes. Cutting off the sensory stimulation.
  3. Be present by focusing on the individual sounds in the surrounding (not busying the ears).
  4. Establish the focus on the breath. A few deep breaths to connect with the present moment.
  5. I start the compassion meditation by being compassionate to myself. I say a prayer in my head imagining myself, I echo this prayer until the force of the prayer is all around me in my head, then I start including those who are close to me expanding the circle of compassion in my head with every prayer. After that I bring the image of the whole earth in my head and echo the prayer in my head. The prayer translates in English to: Our Lord, have mercy on us. Bestow mercy on us!

The practise can last from anywhere from 5 mins to 20 mins.

This meditation technique really helped me let go of grudges and resentment I didn’t know I was holding on to. When I first started practising this technique, images of people that I disliked or was angry or holding some negative emotion for, started to pop up in my head while meditating. I countered this by including those people in my prayers too. I realised that I was holding onto unnecessary and unwanted feelings and emotions. I started becoming more aware of my negative side. I questioned myself why I didn’t like them? Was it useful to hold on to grudges and resentment? Was it helpful? Eventually, I was able to include everyone in this meditation practise without feeling any grudges, dislike, and resentment towards others. 

Back to the intro… I am a work in progress. Although I was happy to discover that some negative emotions found place in my heart and head easier than others. To give you an example, anger and fear found place in my heart and mind easier than other emotions like hate and envy. The reason I am writing this is because, in the past week or 2, I find that anger and fear is once more easily finding place in my heart and occupying my mind. However, armed with the tools to combat them, I am able to keep my composure. However, I cannot remain calm in everything I do, so this highlights that I should start practising this meditation daily, looking deeper inside my heart and subconscious. I am also sharing this because since developing this method, I have consumed a lot of content and found out that similar practices of contemplation have been part of the Islamic tradition too. Here’s a lecture series that talks about the practise of Tafaqqur by Dr. Abdullah Rothman. He talks about 9th century scholar Muhasibi, who mentioned a similar practise in his works. He highly influenced the main scholar of metaphysics Imam Ghazzali.

Sunday Musings

Why we do the things we do? Hmm… probably a wrong question to start with. We do a lot of things subconsciously, a lot of things because they are part of what we reflect outwards, few things deliberately. The things I am referring to here are our thoughts, actions and emotions. Right now I am trying to meditate with my eyes closed, breathing and searching through these past two weeks. Why? Because I said a lot bad things to someone I know- retaliating. A few years back or maybe more, it’d be fine and it wouldn’t upset how I act or what I say. Even now sometimes I do think that dropping to other person’s level and lashing out can be a good way to deal with certain individuals- especially narcissists and individuals that exhibit psychopathic traits or are perhaps psychopaths.

Obviously it is better to keep away from such people, however, we cannot always choose who we encounter in our lives and if I were to personally take a long look back, I think I have learnt a lot from some of the people I wish I hadn’t encountered. These individuals can be a good test of character and resilience. People are tested through other people. It’s part of human society. Life is not a bed of roses… certainly not for me in the present haha… but this doesn’t mean that there is nothing in life to be grateful for. Rather gratitude should always be first… we are always blessed with a lot of good. We just have to open our eyes and mind, feel the gratitude in our hearts. Life is not easy… life is a challenge and if you are not challenging yourself, you aren’t living up to your potential.

Every time I start writing, my mind just tries to delve deeper into the philosophy that has shaped my thinking so I have to take a step back and refer back to what I am trying to write instead of what I want to write. Would it be a good thing to just write out all my thoughts and how they are layered? It’s what I do in all my blogs… perhaps because of few recent encounters I am unable to. What gets to me is the fact, that I let my ego and old behaviours control me. It’s easy to drop to other person’s level, especially when other person is mean and malicious. I retaliated because I was perturbed. I was mean and harsh, said a lot things that I didn’t want to or think of. The blog sometimes is a cool way of letting out what’s going through my mind… let it all out and re-centre myself so that I can focus on the process and not outcomes. Our thoughts, emotions and behaviours our intertwined… how we act out is what gets filtered into other aspects of our lives. For example my writing and thoughts right now, in the present moment are distressed by recent encounters. This will filter into other pursuits if I don’t examine it and let it settle in my subconscious. So hence why, before it happens… I address it. I have given myself enough time to feel whatever happened. In the last 3 weeks or so… I cannot say that I have been focussed on following the process, routine and staying disciplined. So perhaps these are the reasons why my behaviour during the encounter though somewhat calm initially, couldn’t remain so.

When things go awry… it is time to take a step back, look at the discipline, routine and practice. This is what I am always to trying to achieve more in… measure myself against. A quote I love says, be grateful for the blessings you are blessed with and be grateful for the blessings you are denied. Therein lies divine wisdom.

Here one might think- am I denied a blessing because I don’t deserve it? This is surely a wrong way to think about it. A better approach would be to think, what would I be like had I been blessed with those things? Recognising the extent of evil and chaos that I could perhaps fall in, …. if I invert this, the way I am currently thinking about it or what I mean by it is, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” (J Clear) In trying to take a step too many, there is a greater chance of temptations and evil within us side tracking us or make us shoot for the wrong goals. Hence why, before we set out to create order, we create order within ourselves.

I cannot take back the words I said, however, in future I can show better display of character. That would be a good step forwards… in the present moment, I can show and feel gratitude, cherish the good people. Most of all… staying focussed on the process and routine.