FEAR; What is it?
According to Merriam Webster dictionary;
FEAR : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.
We will just be taking that definition to look at what fear is in this first part of the series. Yes, it is a series.
There are 5 elements that we will look into in that definition. You can make a guess before I list them out……. Ok! Let’s get to it. If you didn’t get them right, you can follow.
Element 1: Emotion.
Going by a dictionary definition, emotion is defined as ” A person’s internal state of being and involuntary physiological response to an object or a situation, based on or tied to physical state and sensory data”.
As we can see by that definition, your emotions are triggered by things tied to the physical state, things around you, things external. Yet as said by the definition, these external factors have much impact on a person’s internal state. You don’t expect and you don’t plan to have such a change within you, but you get them anyways because of the things around you.
When such external events come to you, there is a psychological response within you to such events and then your state of feelings undergo a transition.
Summary: your emotion which is a result of external influence on you is a weapon! Let’s ride on
Element 2 : Unpleasantness.
One of the definitions of “unpleasant” by Webster reads: “not pleasant or enjoyable : causing discomfort or pain”
From the little chitchat about emotions, I can now tell you that your emotions can either be pleasant or unpleasant depending on the external event or trigger. For example, a bank alert of 100,000 naira at the right time ( when you desperately need money) from your parents will definitely trigger a pleasant emotion, an emotion in which you can find peace and rest. Yes!!!.
Let’s go on. When something is unpleasant, as the definition states, it is not enjoyable, it causes pain and discomfort.
Like I said just earlier, you can have pleasant and unpleasant emotions, your emotions can switch at anytime depending on what you encounter.
Pleasant emotions come with feelings of comfort, peace, rest, confidence and the likes whole
Unpleasant emotions come with feelings of discomfort, sadness, pain, hurt, anger and the likes. You don’t get to enjoy such unpleasant emotions. NEVER!!! Sometimes you can’t sleep, think well or do something sensible.
And one dangerous thing about emotion is that it has its way of taking over your senses before you know it.
Let your mind be getting streamlined as we go on.
Element 3: Anticipation
When you anticipate something, you expect it to happen either because you have seen signs of it happening or you just expect it to happen. I don’t need say much on that.
Element 4: Awareness
This is just a state or level of consciousness where sense data can be confirmed by an observer. The state or quality of being aware of something. (Dictionary).
You are aware that something is going to happen. This is different from anticipating it. Now, you know that it is going to happen. Or probably it is already happening.
Element 5 : Danger
According to Webster : “something that may cause injury or harm” or “the state of not being protected from harm or evil”.
There is nothing positive about danger to you. There is harm coming with it.
Having said that, we can move on.
Going back to the definition of fear : ” an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger”. Fear does not just spring up from within you without any trigger from outside, either through your ears, eyes, nose, skin, tongue….. Your senses.
You hear something, you see something, you smell something, you feel something, you taste something. The reception of those things into your system triggers a response.
Following a reverse trend of our earlier discussion, i mean going from last to first.
I will take 3,4 and 5 together. An anticipation and awareness of something that you have a pre-knowledge of that is dangerous can induce a negative response. For example…. We all know that a lion is a wild animal, So if you hear the roar of a lion near your house, a negative response will surely be induced in you.
We all have knowledge of so many dangerous and bad events and effects. That’s why we can anticipate danger when something happens against the normal.
You know the result of not reading for an exam, that’s the only reason a negative response will build up in you when you have not read. There is an external trigger here, it works through your eyes and ears because you hear about the course in different places, you see the textbooks and notebooks and you remember that you have not read…… A negative feedback is induced.
Going to the kind of feedback or response you get from the trigger by these negative external factors, we can be sure that they can’t be pleasant. Obviously they can only be unpleasant, bringing discomfort, pain, anxiety, etc.
Lets draw a chain
Indwelling knowledge of danger – negative external trigger – induction of negative response – unpleasant feelings as a result of negative response.
Finally, your emotions build up on these negative responses and unpleasant feelings. Then the elements of your emotions comprise of the negative responses and unpleasant feelings from within you.
It is unpleasant, it is negative, yes!! But what makes it different from anger? The answer is simple: because what brought about the unpleasantness is an expectation of something that will cause harm to you.
That’s just what fear is….. There is an element of EXPECTATION OR ANTICIPATION as a result of a prior knowledge of harmful events. The expectations start when there are certain EXTERNAL triggers around you.
LET’S TALK EMOTIONS
Just as it was defined in the first part of this series, it is “A person’s internal state of being and involuntary psychological response to an object or a situation, based on or tied to physical state and sensory data”. It is unintentional. You did not plan it. characterized by intense mental activity and a high degree of pleasure or displeasure.
When you have such negative external triggers inducing the unpleasant responses in you, they begin to form like a forcefield in you. I will equate this forcefield to your emotions. You know how a forcefield works. There is so much binding effect from these forcefield (emotion). It exerts all its forces on you and that’s when you feel enclosed and encaged within your mind.
Also there a number of hormones that control emotions; estrogen, progestrone, testosterone, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, GABA, acetylcholine and oxytocin. They all have different ways they affect emotions. This is one of the reasons your emotions have so much grip on you. Emotions have biological connections, your body system, organs, tissues get entangled within your emotional feelings because the hormones released during this period exert their actions directly on your body. That’s why you can be shivering when you are afraid or why you can fall ill when fear has decided to take over your mind for a while.
Your emotions either pleasant or unpleasant are not what you plan to have, they are triggered….. They have triggers.
I believe by now you should have the idea of the kind of triggers that induce emotions of fear.
When emotions of fear sets in, you feel like escaping that anticipated danger (remember?) Or you feel like fighting it. Now the feelings of fight or flight don’t come like the real running or fighting always. They come in different disguises depending on the shade of fear trigger.
Fear gets its joy and high point when emotions set in. That was why I said emotions are weapons. When emotions set in, there is so much grip on your body and senses.
Emotions are like a forcefield. There are forces exerted on you right from within and you feel trapped inside your mind.
When you encounter the triggers of fear, there is a presentation to your mind of a series of possible harmful events that you already know about and then there are responses to avoid them from happening. These responses or feedbacks accumulate either rapidly or over time depending on the trigger. Your emotions then build up and expand right within you and lays hold of your body and senses. You keep feeling you should avoid the danger from happening, or you feel you should find a way to escape, or you feel you should fight back….. These feelings are very overwhelming… Additional thanks to the actions of the hormones.
In simple term: A hormone is any chemical substance produced by one tissue in the body and conveyed by the bloodstream to another tissue To effect physiological activity.
your emotions are not planned! But they find their way to the limelight of your mind.
A pattern is followed by all emotions but there are different triggers and memory presentations. But we are on the FEAR EMOTION. So we will stick to that for now.
Once it has passed the stage of triggering, presentation, and induction of negative responses, your emotions are produced and I can describe them as feelings within you. What comprises your emotions depend on the trigger. Emotions of anger is different from that of fear because they are of different triggers. Seeing a lion charging towards you will not induce anger emotions. Likewise someone breaking your phone will not induce fear emotions.
When your fear emotions come up, there is this dread of danger within you. You are not seeing anything dangerous yet but because you heard the sound of snake’s hiss in your room around 1:30am, you start seeing snakes “in your head”and imagining how snakes bite, the effect of snake bites, you start thinking of the dangerous things you have heard about snakes.
Remember I said it is characterized by intense mental activity. When your fear emotions set in, the pictures you see and the thoughts in your mind are a fruit of the innate knowledge of danger you already have. They are not the fruits of what is happening at that moment. What is happening at that moment is that you are seeing something or you are hearing something.
You have not seen the snake physically but you already have the mental picture of about almost all the possible species of snakes there can be, based on what you have seen either on TV or somewhere else.
Your emotions and feelings at that time are the products of your mental pictures of the dangerous things you have either been taught or you in one way or the other know about. And that is enough to put you in a cage in your mind. That’s the power of your emotions. Anything you do at that time is as inspired by your emotions and not by normal senses.
Your emotions hold you from the inside. That’s why when you are so happy, you can literally feel it from the inside of you. Those who have been there will understand better.
Imagine a little baby (4 months old) who is seeing a snake for the first time. You can imagine her reaction. Now, the baby will not be afraid, why? Let’s break it down:
The baby has never seen a snake biting a person
The baby has never heard of the dangerous and evil things a snake can do
The baby knows nothing about snakes
Summary, the baby has no stored information or knowledge on snakes.
Definitely, the baby can’t suddenly begin to have mental pictures of snake biting a person or the danger in coming across a snake, etc.
When the baby sees the snake, nothing(mental picture) pops up in her head, so no negative response is induced other than the fact that she will be wondering what that thing is. So fear does not build up in her.
The trigger (the snake) is there but no negative response is being triggered because the baby can’t have any mental picture of evil acts of a snake. So no emotions of fear can build up within her.
Your emotion of fear will change your composition and all it makes you to see is the mental picture in your head and not the reality of the fact that you can really kill the snake.
Your emotions of fear cloud your right thinking.
We are going to do a case study here so we can get some things better.
Let’s talk about a student in a federal university in Nigeria, say University of Lagos.
There are several areas of the students sojourn in the institution, beyond his academics, that are susceptible to deterioration as a result of such a student living in fear. Some of these include his relationship with a lady, his duties as an executive in his department or faculty association, his social relationship with people around him, setting both short and long term goals, running a business for extra finances, etc.
Now, I will divide triggers into two: positive and negative depending on what kind of responses they induce in him. If a result of 5 out of 100 “makes” him to be happy, then “to him”, that is a positive trigger. “note my affirmative use of words”. If a result of 95 out of 100 “makes” him sad, then “to him”, that is a negative trigger.
There are so many things that this student (in extension to every other human being) has knowledge of either by experience, or he was taught or he came across them one way or the other and they stay. He has gained some knowledge about so many things in one way. Now, these things he has knowledge of, I will also divide into two: things generally regarded a positive (good, not harmful, not dangerous, beneficial, etc.) And things generally regarded as negative(bad, evil, dangerous, harmful, etc). Keep following.
All these tasks and activities work together to make up his grades.
Missing classes (stabbing) is really not a sufficient trigger that will induce fear because when you miss classes, your mind still rests on the fact that you can get the notes, read them, get past questions and work with them…… As long as you know the topics being taught in class.
Attending classes but still having an incomplete or incomprehensive note means a lot.
This student does not have the right notes or he does not have any note at all, what does he want to read? His problems start when he realizes that there are about 5 tests for him to write within the next one week and he has no note for some or all of them. The triggers are introducing themselves now. The moment these triggers start pricking him, he begins to “imagine” what is going to happen to him if he does not get the notes to read before its too late and he starts giving himself reasons like: my course mates are reading their own note and they might not want to release it or he is not even sure if they have the right things in their notes, etc. Now he is being pricked by these triggers and he begins to imagine the possible consequences. You can help him to imagine.
How does he know the things that might possibly happen? We have said that: he already has the knowledge of these consequences in ways that were mentioned above. The pictures of those things begin to surface and his emotions start setting in.
Its not his fault, some things just can’t be avoided in this life except you did not pass through the childhood phase of life. During this phase, you get to learn a lot about “good” and “bad” from parents, teachers and even peers. There are also some that you learn when you pass through some situations and conditions (experiences) while others you probably learn as you grow, either through the media, classroom, internet, and the likes. A lot of things get to stay with us as we journey through.
While he has knowledge about these negative things, he does not believe that they can be dangerous to him in any way.. Knowledge is good!!. True! But let’s ride on.
As a student, he has to read to know or to pass, as selected by him. He has to make friends. He has to perform his duties if he goes into a political office, he has to look for extra means of cash as he goes on. He has to set goals for the session or semester. He has to Starr planning for the life after university. He has to make a lot of decisions.
He has to read to pass or to know. Whether he only wants to pass or he really wants to know (which end point is to pass), there are specific triggers that can hinder that mission.
There are classes to attend, there are assignments to do, there are practicals that are said to be compulsory, there and tests(impromptu or not) to write and there are examinations to write.
Now he is troubled because his mind is already getting compromised and overtaken with such emotions and feelings.
The bulky notes, the average practical scores, the uncompleted or undone assignments and then exam is ahead. All these together make the triggers strong.
His time is becoming like it is not enough for him to read, and the time he has to read, he is not reading well because his mind is already troubled. That’s not anger, its fear because the triggers present to him the pictures of the negative things he knows already. He would not want them to happen but now there are premises for them to happen so he is not at peace.
Once his emotions set in, the situation becomes difficult for him to handle. He the goes into study and he can’t seem to get much, he keeps thinking of how he will write the exams, the score he will probably have. Whenever he hears of the course(s) or sees the textbook or notebook with someone, his mind goes “oh my, i have not read this, i will most likely not do well” but he does not want to perform bad. He does not want to fail but he feels the urge and constraints from within him that he won’t do well. He enters exam hall and is stranded. His reading periods were unfruitful because the fear that has built up in him didn’t give him the chance to think his way right.
When emotions build up, only a strong-willed mind can stand a chance and snap out of it but the question I keep asking is : how strong and right is your mind?
Decision making becomes difficult, you can’t relate well with others because it takes a clear mind to have conversations.
Also, if you want to start a business, its possible you are not successful in it or you could not start because you anticipate that some things will not go right. Buyers won’t come, jobs won’t come, you will be duped, you will be robbed, etc. Your fears will hinder you.
Only if you know how to snap out of that inward feelings, emotions and biddings that present to you the pictures of evil happenings.
Let’s look at the steps again
Negative Trigger – presentation of negative mental pictures – induction of negative responses – build up of emotions.
Once your emotions build up, you have to be strong to get out of it. Like k said before, its like a forcefield. Your right thinking and judgment are clouded and overtaken with those mental pictures.
You need to know that there are a lot of things you already know about starting from when you were young till now and they are either good and bad (positive and negative). Once you make yourself aware of these fact and truth you will be able to know what you will expect when you encounter the triggers.
For example; I already know that failure is bound if I don’t study, then if that time comes when I am being reminded of this fact by certain triggers, I will know what to do. Now how will you know what to do? Only the wise ones will know what to do after making yourself aware of that first fact (that you know what will happen of you don’t read). When you make yourself realize that fact, you make plans to read, even if its not comprehensive enough. So when you encounter those triggers and they remind you that you have not read and start giving you pictures, you stay with by your plans and follow it. Your mind really has to be strong for you to do this and that’s why mind renewal and training is a must for everyone.
Some people can even eventually put themselves into that fear arena when they are trying to make themselves understand that here are certain things that will happen of you don’t do this or that. No! Don’t do that!!! You will know if you are already doing that when you make yourself away and yet you are not making any plans.
Don’t let the triggers get you to the stage of emotions. If it gets to the stage of mental pictures, with a strong mind, you can still snap out but with a weak mind, you need extra conscious effort or external assistance to help you snap out and that’s why some people go for counseling. Its very good!!! But you can also help yourself too.
Fears override a weak mind but has no place in a strong mind. A strong mind is a mind that is constantly being renewed and a mind filled with the right thoughts.
Give yourself a constant check on the things you know that will be presented to you later when you encounter a trigger. Identify them and build yourself against them by getting your mind strong so that when they come, you are ready!
Fear will give you the wrong pictures of life and will shorten your sight.
Fear will stop you from thinking right and well, you will only be moved by that feeling and emotion.
Take a look at those who can stand on front of crazy dog charging towards them and they fight the dog rather than run. They didn’t allow all the mental pictures and emotions to override their mind.
Instead of allowing the pictures and thoughts(from the emotional rush) to override their mind, they are busy thinking and picturing how they are going to stop the dog. They are busy planning and making strategy in their mind how they will handle the dog and prevent the “evil and harmful emotional pictures” from becoming a reality and not getting themselves caged in the thoughts of being killed by a crazy dog.
Apply this approach to whatever situation you face. Don’t give in. Train your mind!!!
I guess I will have to put some things up on what it means to train your mind and build a strong mind