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 extends 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 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.

How to win over hate?

So, last night I was rewatching one of my favourite childhood shows. “Samurai Jack”

Long ago…. in a lol everytime I recall samurai Jack, either the intro or the phrase ‘jump good’ pops up in my head. Do you remember the episode when Aku is surprised seeing Jack flying and says, “You can flyyyyyy….” Jack replies, “No, jump good”

Jack really should have gone back in time to his home in that episode. But they cut it off there. I don’t remember what happens after.

Anyway, I was supposed to talk about this other episode. The episode is titled, ‘Jack vs Mad Jack”.

In this episode Jack faces the hate, frustration, anger and rage within him. It takes his mirror image physically through Aku’s magic and battles him. One could say that it is also his ego. When he battles his ego and the evil Jack… everything around is getting burnt and the forest is catching fire. Watching it, I couldn’t help but think of that proverb, the hate within you destroys everything around you. The hate within you consumes you. Jack is also struggling to beat his evil self. He gets hurt fighting the hate and rage until he finally realises that the only way to beat hate, frustration and anger is to let go!

So, this is what Jack does… He lets it go! He calms himself, straightens his hair, ties it in a knot, looks deep within and destroys the hate inside him by letting go. In doing so, the evil Jack vanishes and the magic loses it power.

In today’s polarised world, where a brother picks up arms against his own brother, where 2 people with different opinions can’t hold a thoughtful debate, where riots and protests have become the answer, inequality is on the rise…. the answer is winning over hate.

Be like Samurai Jack, destroy the hate and anger within you and let it go… because if you don’t, it will destroy everything around you. In the process, it will consume you.

Here’s the clip of the episode Jack vs Jack, a powerful lesson from a children’s animation. https://youtu.be/SUhmVfAvdSs

Picture credit: Samurai Jack Wiki

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. Muhasibi highly influenced the main scholar of metaphysics Imam Ghazzali.

Few months back, I also came across compassion meditation practise in Professor Jason M Satterfield’s course for ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Techniques for Retraining the Mind’. This meditation practise is especially useful in identifying and contemplating upon the state of our hearts and rectifying its affairs. It’s also helpful in combating anxiety and depression.