Every living thing in this universe experiences fear in one form or the other. Fear is the main cause of stress and it is a threat to progress. It drains the nervous system of its reserve of energy. It produces weakness. As a matter of fact, fear exists to glorify courage. Here, I try to throw light on the right understanding of fear and simple and efficient remedies are given to conquer fear.
What is Fear?
Fear is an emotion that is induced by a threat or stimulus which causes a chain reaction in the brain and ends in the release of chemicals that will increase the heart rate, fast breathing, trembling of limbs etc., The Sanskrit equivalent of fear is ‘bhaya’ that is described as an emotion in the mind that is produced when one’s life is in danger due to external stimulus. In fear the mind gets stunned and the functioning of the senses are inhibited. We fear for many things like fear for cockroaches, spider, snake, society, public speaking, heights, depth, water, crowd, exams, pain, uncertainty, future, life, death and fear of God.
Imaginary Fear /Phobia
Every man has an imaginary fear of one kind or the other. Imaginary fears cause diseases, deplete all energies in man and produce all sorts of feverish excitement, low vitality, uneasiness, discomfort, disharmony, etc. When there is an epidemic or swine flu, or ebola, fear is the predisposing cause. Man is terribly afraid of it, worries himself and imagines that the germs have entered his body. Imagination does serious havoc. He becomes a victim.
These Peculiar, private, irrational and unnatural fears are called phobias. They have no objective reality. There is nothing to frighten people. There is no threatening situation in their environment which should cause fear in them and yet they cannot free themselves from fears and negative feelings. The original word in Greek is “Phobos” meaning fear. Phobias are endless.
Causes of Fear
Science explains that fear arises due to the process of conditioning. Little Albert’s Experiment by John B Watson in the year 1920 confirms this. He used Pavlov’s classical conditioning method to make the little boy Albert fear for white rat which made him fear all furry small things like fear for rabbit, fear for dog and fear for a ball of cotton. Philosophy explains that fear arises due to ignorance. Little Albert was 11 month old when he was conditioned. So psychology and philosophy coincides. Due to the ignorance of fact only the little one was feared.
So we can say that fear arises due to ignorance. Some physical deformity, lack of physical and mental efficiency, wrong training in children, are other causes of fear.
The causes of phobias are nervousness, stupidity in a mild or intense form and lack of enquiry or right thinking and right understanding.
Signs and symptoms
Mostly the signs and symptoms of fear are trembling of the limbs, increased heart rate, lowering of pulse, fast breathing, sweating, increased muscle tension causing ‘goose bumps’, alertness leading to sleep disturbances and ‘butterflies in stomach’.
Treatment for fear/phobia
The most commonly prescribed medications for phobia are anti- anxiety medications and antidepressants. Anti-anxiety medications are powerful and there are different types. Many types begin working right away, but they generally should not be taken for long periods. Some may cause side effects such as headache, nausea, or difficulty sleeping. These side effects are usually not a problem for most people, especially if the dose starts off low and is increased slowly over time. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may have.
Some people do better with CBT, while others do better with medication. Still others do best with a combination of the two. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.
A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially useful for treating phobia. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious and fearful. It can also help people learn and practice social skills.
Whenever a child is afraid of something, we first tell him that there is nothing to be feared thus denying the object of fear. Denial is the first step in the procedure. Subsequently we explain to the child the actual thing, the Truth. We thus convince him that it was only his fancy which created the sensation in him. We positively affirm and assert what is true. Similarly, even as we grow, we must develop constantly the knowledge that there is nothing in the universe to cause fear. The subconscious mind, which is first startled by an unusual sight or incoherent voice, should be kept assured that all such things are false, the Truth behind them being well acquainted with the normal sense and knowledge. When fear is completely removed, nothing can hurt us.
As you think, so you become. As you think, so you develop. As is your ideal, so gradually your life will become. This is so, because there is a great transforming power in thought. Sit with closed eyes in the early morning. Meditate on courage, the opposite of fear, for half an hour. Think of the advantages of courage and the disadvantages of fear. Practice the virtue during the day. Feel that you actually possess courage to an enormous degree. Manifest it in your daily life. In some weeks or months fear will be replaced by courage. Repeat the formula “Om courage” mentally, daily several times.
It is very difficult to attack fear directly. It is very strong. You are a victim to this negative trait in hundreds of lives. It has taken deep root. Put the seeds of courage in your heart.
Allow it to grow. Fear will die by itself. The positive always overcomes the negative. This is an immutable psychological law. This is the Pratipaksha-Bhavana-method of RajaYogins. Try this method again and again. You are bound to succeed.
Mere re-educating the mind will not strengthen courage. Putting the knowledge into practice on every occasion is quite essential. Well-developed knowledge coupled with practice can alone relieve men from fear. The idea may be paradoxical to assume that “there is nothing to fear because nothing can hurt us though the converse is equally true.”
When there is unconditional love there is no enmity. There is no superiority of power. There is no pleasure or pain. Ultimately there is no fear.