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  • Writer's pictureAustin Aloysius Tay

I am paralyzed by my own fear

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Fear is one of those emotions that can be irrational. It can come from our own association of things, creating an emotion that can be crippling. For example, most people fear snakes, even though they might not have been bitten or attacked by one. So, merely talking about snakes or looking at pictures of snakes can send chills down their spines.

Humans are good at associating things and formulating a thought associated with an emotion. This is because we are trained from young how to do so. Language becomes a conduit for us to connect all the things we see, hear and read and make it lifelike (also known as relational framing).  It is also because we can put meanings to how we feel and think that we create a false reality that we believe to be real. When we are in such a state, we will start to sabotage any progress of relieving ourselves from the fear.

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We will try anything to stop that feeling when we are in fear. This type of response is known as fight or flight. Often, we will choose to flee from that situation that makes us feel uncomfortable, as it is a natural response for us to stay in a state of homeostasis. In doing so, while we can feel relieved, we are also beginning to establish a pattern of avoidance every time a feeling of fear kicks in. This type of behaviour is counterproductive. For example, when an individual does not know how to say no to others because he believes that doing so will be considered unhelpful and incompetent. The fear of being perceived as unhelpful and incompetent means that he will continue to say yes to others even when he knows he might be overwhelmed with work. On the other hand, we might choose to stick around and fight fear. We will resort to ways to eradicate fear. For example, we will spend time rationalising the reasons behind the fear we experienced and hatch a deliberate plan to prevent fear. All these sound sensible and practical.  But in reality,  your mind is working overtime and plotting to return with a vengeance.

FEAR has only four letters. That’s it. We need to stop associating words with irrational thoughts and emotions. When we can treat them as what they are, we will then be able to learn how to move away from our irrationality and live our lives with courage and purpose.

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