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The Psychology of Fear

Updated on November 22, 2017
Sudhir Devapalan profile image

I am a front end developer by profession but I enjoy writing articles about anything mysterious, interesting and fascinating.

There are many things that we are afraid of. Different people have different types of fears. They may range from ghosts to insects. However, most people are terrified of a far greater adversary- exam! The fear of writing exams or to be precise, the fear of failing in the exams is present in almost every student. Nobody likes to fail in any task and the prospect of not doing well will affect most people. Although we may feel that others might not be as afraid, we are definitely not alone in this aspect.

Cause of fear:

The root cause of our fear stems from the repercussions that we would have to face due to our failure. We would feel humiliated in front of others. We fear that our friends might make fun of us or we might face punishment. The same fear will surprisingly be present among all students no matter how smart they might be. Some might be afraid of failing the exam whereas some might even be afraid of losing just a few marks. Although the reason for the fear might vary, it is still present for everyone. We may have prepared well for the exam but that doesn’t stop the butterflies fluttering in our stomach. And it happens every single time and there is no stopping it.

Fear of public speaking:

Another interesting fear which is widespread is the fear of public speaking. We are comfortable to converse with people in normal situations but the moment we get on stage, we start to tremble. Once again this is caused due to our fear of failure. We may be well versed in our language but there is always a possibility that we might goof things up. What if something goes wrong? This is the question on our minds which causes all our anxiety. This, in turn, makes us doubt our own ability and things start to break down really quickly.

Fear is constant:

But most of us fail to realize is that each and every person has fear. The only difference is how we react to it. Having fear isn’t always bad. It is this fear of failure that drives us. That pushes us to do even better. Without this fear, we won’t have any motivation to do anything. It is only under the influence of fear that we perform to our potential. Thus, fear serves as our motivation in life. But too much of anything is good for nothing. If our fears get the better of us then we lose all hope of success. Our plans become a failure even before they begin.

Handling fear:

But as I had mentioned earlier, everyone has fear and there is no escaping it. But we can learn to overcome our fears. We can learn to channel this fear productively. We need to understand that every person in this world is undergoing the same ordeal as us and we are not the only ones who are under pressure. And having fear is completely normal. This is how our body responds to emergency situations to help protect us. We need to first learn to improve our self-confidence. We should believe in ourselves and our abilities. Most of the time we are more than capable of doing the task at hand but we fall apart due to our lack of confidence. So we need to learn to have faith in ourselves first.

Source

True strength:

“Failure is the stepping stone for success”. It is only through our failures that we learn to succeed in life. It is very much possible that we may fail despite being confident of success. But that does not mean that our effort was in vain. Failures and success are part of our life. We need to learn to face our failures. A person who hasn’t faced any failure in his life isn’t necessarily strong. But if a person learns to live and learn from his failures, then he truly becomes invincible. True strength comes from learning to face our failures. Only then will we stop being afraid. If we become afraid of failing, then the battle is already lost. We need to push forward with confidence no matter how dire the situation might be.

Overcoming fear:

We also need to realize that no matter how confident we are, it won’t help us totally eradicate our fear. There will always be a hint of fear in our mind. A pinch of fear is necessary and will help us be on our toes. We need to be stronger than our fear and handle the situation in a calm manner. If we shy away from our fears, they’ll start to grow even more. If we learn to face them head on every time, then overcoming them will become a habit and we would no longer be afraid.

© 2017 Sudhir

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    • pen promulgates profile image

      Imran Khan 2 weeks ago from Mumbai, India

      It's an awesome article.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 weeks ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I think my greatest fear is fear of the unknown. Not knowing what will happen in the future leaves me with a very unsettled feeling. You are right, though, we all have fear, and it is what we do with it that makes the difference. If we use our fear to fuel preparation for what we are facing, hopefully, our fear will decrease, and we will know that we have done our best.