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What is the real purpose of fear?

Many of us misunderstand the real purpose of fear, what it means in our everyday life and how it helps us.

In simple terms, fear wakes us up from our day-to-day thoughts and other distractions, it demands that we return to the present moment and address what is in front of us. In many ways the same as a friend or parent waking someone up from a bad dream, it intends to bring us back to reality.

So that we can assess 3 things:

  1. Is this an immediate threat?

  2. Is this a minor threat?

  3. Or is this a false alarm?

Funny story about fear

One summer’s day, I was sitting in the garden having my lunch. It had been a very busy morning with clients and with more sessions booked after lunch, my mind began to wander. Completely distracted in my thoughts about the afternoon sessions, out of nowhere I heard a loud flustered noise behind me in the corner of the garden.

I immediately jumped out of my seat and a flood of adrenaline surged its way through my body. My initial thoughts were that somebody was trying to climb over the fence into the garden. However, within a fraction of a second, I turned around only to find it wasn’t a burglar but actually just a big fat wood pigeon trying to take flight.

I began to laugh at myself, almost in embarrassment as if the neighbours might have seen me. Here I was, the phobia expert, getting the biggest fright of my life because a wood pigeon tried to take flight.

This prompted me to think deeply about the fear response, why exactly do we experience such a shudder of fear in that way?

The real purpose of fear

The fear response is perfectly designed, over thousands of years of evolution, to snap us out of our daydream in our head, and snap us into the present moment. This is so that we can assess our current situation properly and respond accordingly.

  • Wake up from the daydream thoughts

  • Assess our surroundings and any potential danger or threat

  • Respond accordingly

In many ways, fear is our friend and a way of protecting ourselves from potential dangers around us. Who would have guessed?

As human beings, we all have innate fear

For the sake of this example, here are two obvious ones:

Loud unexpected noises: balloons popping, dogs barking, car horns beeping etc

Fast unexpected movement: bird flapping, dog jumping up at us, tennis ball hurling towards us, wasp, bee or moth flying towards us, spider moving suddenly Everyone experiences a sudden spike of fear to some degree or other when confronted with any of the above.

For the average person, this spike of fear is quick and subsides quickly too.

The problem we face when living with a phobia is that we have developed an intense fear of our own fear response. And instead of the fear spiking and subsiding, it creates a very intense feedback loop. More fear makes us respond with more fear and the cycle continues. Most clients of mine describe this as a "vicious circle" Fear of fear is the perfect recipe for a phobic response and/or panic attack to occur. And this is exactly what our team of highly qualified phobia therapists can help you with.

Want to learn how we can help you eliminate your phobia for good?

We can do this without the stress of exposure therapy, coping strategies or tedious years of therapy. The most extreme and lifelong phobias have been eliminated with this method. You can find out more here:

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