Parent categories: Human.

Friending Fear

How to view fear?

YAML Question

Fear can be a trigger for exploration and lead to insightful or inspiring projects.

But fear can also prevent any action.

I wonder, how to view fear? What does fear mean (if it does)? Where does it come from? Why?

My example. I walk through the woods. Suddenly I hear the branches cracking. Now, I want to run and hide. But why?

Is my body really feeling the fear? For a reason? Or is the mind remembering some trigger similar to this sound and situation that brings fear? If so, fear is imagination.

Can fear be healthy? And when?

Or is fear useless and is just a trick of the mind that is better to be un-learned?

This question is important not only on personal scale. Lets say I follow the fear in my example walking through the woods. So I run away home and hide, and avoid the forest from then on. But what if I turn fear into curiosity and stay in the woods? Then, I see a rare bird making a nest from branches (that sound I got scared of!)

Now apply that exercise to the humanity scale.


No child categories.

Some of our neural circuits are just built-in, just as some people involuntarily salivate when they see tasty food, even in pictures, or just like most people incorrectly perceive convex as concave surfaces, or just like shapes resembling people of opposite sex can make people sexually arouse.

Similarly, the sense of fear may be a subconscious result of one's particular neural circuitry. Flipping such hard-wired phobias may be as hard as changing one's sexual orientation, or as simple as forgetting to associate tasty food pictures with actual eating of food.

For example, I didn't realize that people salivate when they see pictures of food! Apparently, they look at the pictures of food as if they are the real thing, and immediately imagine what would happen if they touched it with their tongues, while I tend to look at food pictures as objects, i.e., looking at them as if it is an object to be judged and sorted rather than tasted.

// My example. I walk through the woods. Suddenly I hear the branches cracking. Now, I want to run and hide. But why?

The fear of darkness is quite rational: think of all the possibilities what may lurk in the darkness! Our ancient brain knows that there could be predators, and out there, and darkness prevents all kind of body's natural and automatic interpretation and defense systems (e.g., vision-based threat identification) to work properly: you need to delegate risk estimation to your prefrontal cortex to tame the fear :)

Collect more information and sharpen your rationality including more of the circumstantial and contextual factors you know. For example, perhaps it is so cold outside, that most predators are sleeping the winter hibernation and would not dare to attack you, or perhaps you're walking a path that's often visited by people, and you know that in this region, people are sufficiently well-off, that waiting in a frigid environment to harm someone is the last thing that could possibly be on anyone's mind, and so on.


Hello darkness my old friend~

Hello darkness my old friend~


Hmm [Mindey], I was also thinking in what cases it makes sense to flip Fear into Curiosity, because that leads to Exploration. So, on a humanity scale, such a simple exercise matters because more people would be curious.

Is all curiosity worth following? That's another sub-question.


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