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Friend or Foe? Some Fear Is Healthy

If you asked most people, they would agree fear is something they’d like to avoid. Being scared, feeling fear and worrying tend to be things people don’t enjoy. But fear can be healthy- it doesn’t always mean bad things are on the horizon. There are times when people embrace fear and use it to their advantage. Believe it or not fear can be harnessed and used for good.

Fear is nature’s way of protecting the mind and the body. Generally, people use their thinking and their emotions to come to conclusions about experiences. An activity, thought, or experience is filtered through the mind and an emotion is attached to it, usually showing up as a sensation in the body. When thinking and emotion are in agreement around the subject or situation, fear becomes the response. A fear response isn’t a given in all challenging situations. One person may be very fearful of encountering a snake, while another might be exhilarated. One person might avoid speaking in public while another might jump at the chance.

Fear can be a positive thing. Let’s take a look at how fear can show up in healthy ways.

Fear can protect you from danger- It's nature’s way of protecting us from harm. When fear is triggered it alerts us to pay close attention to what’s going on. When we see that something can hurt us we can take steps to prevent it. For example, if we realize that there is a sharp drop off a cliff several feet or yards in front of us, we can stop before we get there. Or, if we are driving on a highway and we see someone in front of us weaving and apparently driving impaired, we can pull over and call 911. Our fear and concern might protect both of us. When we notice the environment and watch out for danger, the feelings of fear can prevent bad things from happening.

Fear can exhilarate you- Fear is a natural response to a new and intimidating experience. Physically, we may fear an experience like sky diving, but it can be exhilarating too. Our first response might be heck no but, in the end, we are thrilled from having jumped. We all know people who love rollercoasters. Usually they'll say that part of the attraction is the fear element.

Our ego wants to protect us from emotional harm. That means an emotion of fear might be triggered when you decide to step out into new and bigger territory. This type of fear isn’t always about personal safety. It includes emotional safety and not embarrassing ourselves. Doing something in public might feel intimidating and scary, but it can end up being thrilling, especially if we calm our ego down and trust that it's a good thing to expand our limits.

Fear can mature you- Fear tries to stop forward progress for a variety of reasons. From the unknown, to fear of failure…again, to fear of loss, self-consciousness, or harm. Facing fears or doing things while afraid can help you grow. Some fears are simply paper tigers which can easily be conquered by moving through them. Once you’ve faced your fears, they help you evolve into someone who can handle more than before facing the fear.

Fear can teach you- Fear can be an excellent teacher. From regretting a mistake, but learning from it, to experiencing the joy of pushing through your limits, fear can lead you into new territory. Gaining invaluable wisdom from your mistakes can be just as healthy as making good choices sometimes. Facing fear can teach skill sets you need to push past your limits and grow.

Fear is sometimes a friend and sometimes a foe. Some fear is healthy and shouldn’t be ignored. Other times it’s ok to be afraid and step out into the fear and see what happens. Take risks and face fears and let them help shape you into a more whole and less fearful person. As Mark Twain wrote:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed

by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did.

So, throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the tradewinds in your sails.

Explore, Dream, Discover."

Tomorrow we'll go even deeper into the mind-body connection when fear is present.

Sparkles and Love,

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About the Author




Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

the Mindful Maven and Mistress of Meditation, is a sassy Queen-ager, mentor, confidante and trusted guide who provides people with everyday life support. 

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