OP-ED

Are u frightened? How to deal with fear!

By Alibawa Saire

The truth is that fear is a product of our mindset. One of the most famous Stoic philosophers, Seneca, believed that fear is not a sign of weakness but rather a natural human emotion. In fact, he believed that fear can be useful in helping us prepare for potential obstacles and challenges.

Fear, in its essence, is an emotional response to a perceived threat or danger. It is a primal instinct, hardwired into our very being, intended to protect us from harm. However, in our complex modern lives, fear often arises not from immediate physical dangers but from anxieties, uncertainties, and our interpretations of potential negative

Instead of being paralyzed by fears, we should embrace them as an inherent part of the human experience, something that is stitched into our very nature, making us who we are. Our fear is not an insurmountable monster looming in the shadows, waiting to hijack our thoughts and actions, but a psychological phenomenon that we can develop the self-awareness to catch in the moment, understand, examine, and navigate with wisdom.

It’s important to recognize that not all fear is detrimental. After all, no one wants to get hit by a car because their fear response doesn’t keep them from walking on the highway. The Stoics did not suggest that we should strive to eliminate fear altogether. Instead, they saw rational fear—fear that acknowledges genuine danger and promotes sensible caution—as an essential tool for survival. What they warned against was irrational fear—fear that is rooted in false judgments and misconceptions, causing unnecessary anxiety and distress.

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To overcome fear, we needed to examine our fears, hold them up to the light, and decide whether or not they were reasonable and we were right to be worried, or if they were unreasonable and caused by a false perception of the subject. The belief that we can work through fear is the first step towards transforming our relationship with it, shifting from being victims of fear to becoming navigators of a complex emotion.

THE PRACTICE OF OBJECTIVE JUDGEMENT; Often, our ability to make judgments about what we experience is seen as the characteristic that separates us as humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.

THE POWER OF NEGATIVE VISUALIZATION; There is another technique that might seem counterintuitive at first glance. And while, alone, it may increase the feeling of fear instead of lessening it, when used with objective judgment, it can help us face the very things we fear, and come away with the knowledge that we can pass through them undisturbed.

Negative visualization is the Stoic technique known as ‘premeditatio malorum’, which means ‘the premeditation of evils’. It is the practice of looking into our future, deliberately visualizing worst-case scenarios, and learning to come to terms with them if they do in fact come to pass.

PRACTICING ACCEPTANCE; Acceptance is our ability to look at, see, and come to terms with the things around us that we have no control over.

I will state at this point that acceptance is not the same as passive surrender or submission to the world around us. We simply can look at our situation objectively and accept that it is the way it is, rather than waste time wishing it were different.

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From here, we can move forward with a clear map of our terrain, focusing on our actions and what we can control.



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