When I was about a year old, my mother had a piping hot tea bowl in front of me.
To my misfortune, she diverted her attention for a second from the bowl and in a flash, I had the hot liquid splashed all over my thigh which made me scream to the extent of bringing the entire neighborhood down.
The incident left a mark on my thigh until my teenage years and etched the accident forever in my memory.
I am certain you would have been on the receiving end of such incidents in your formative infant lives that would have left you screaming, crying and terribly hurt.
Along with the shout and cry, the incident also introduced us to a defining cognition and emotion of our life which is FEAR!
Since the incident took place to many years thereafter, I would never dare to touch anything that is hot, lest would burn my skin.
If I still went on to do it irrespective of the pain, I would only be termed as a lunatic who refutes to learn from his past.
This is the beauty of fear, although the experiences that causes fear is agonisingly painful and hurting it engraves a deep message in our nervous system and minds on how we need to safeguard ourselves from such involvements in future.
As mentioned, only a lunatic or an individual not in the right sense would not learn from the past experience.
Normal fear is necessary as humans do not have the innate cognitive ability as animals but cultivate it during first-hand experiences with things, people or events.
These experiences go on to shape our thoughts, actions and habits that would safeguard us from the dangers that would be physically or emotionally harmful to us.
Hence the fear of not touching a hot stove, the fear of not crossing a car in motion, the fear of eating something that is unhygienic are examples that normal fear works for our own good.
We build a similar understanding with people around us who turn out to be toxic and have harmed us in the past.
It helps us to eliminate these individuals and stay away from them, as it only brings us more pain and suffering.
What needs to be noted though that these only develop through our own experiences and not through a third-party narrative and more importantly not through overthinking.
Action –> Experience (Pain) –> Normal Fear –> Learning –> Protective Cognition
With the childhood incident something that further got seeded into me unknowingly was the “Abnormal Fear” of hot substances.
Now, was I not only dreadful of touching something bought out straight from the burner, but also fearful of being close to something that is hot in the anxiety that it would burn me up!
Over the years, the fear got so ingrained into my sub conscious mind that I would term anything hot as dangerous, irrespective of my action towards it and stay away.
What I conveniently erased from my senses, was that the liquid or food had to be at a certain temperature and that I had to act in a certain way for it to cause any harm.
There has to be condition or a form, supported by a careless action that would cause me grief, than the heat emitting out by itself and hence the heat by itself was powerless to stir an emotion of fear.
Matter –> Past Experience –> Overthinking –> Abnormal Fear –> Inaction
This is a profound learning of our abnormal fears that engulfs us on most occasions.
We fail to differentiate between normal and abnormal fear where the latter goes on to create a phobia and eventually holds us back from any action.
While normal fear is good and safeguards us from threats, abnormal fears are harmful and limits us to mediocrity.
Abnormal fears are caused with overthinking of what something might result into without something actually happening.
These are plain thoughts which get seeded in our minds and grows as we continuously feed them with attention, but is absolutely powerless and irrelevant otherwise.
The human mind is attracted to negative thoughts than the positive ones and hence it becomes easier for the abnormal fears to reign supreme.
This is the fundamental on which the media, news, television soaps and movies thrive on, purely on the concept of feeding our minds with a negative narrative.
Abnormal fear is also the reason why some of us detest love, money, integrity and loyalty.
We carry an abnormal fear of money to bring in corruption, we relate love and loyalty to cause betrayal and integrity to bring in dishonesty.
We might have not experienced this ourselves, but label it as such, based on opinions of others to the extent of wiping out their positive outcomes.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but moving forward irrespective of your fears.
Courage is about pursuing your goals every single day and saying, “I shall come back again tomorrow”, when you do not succeed.
There is no human on earth who is devoid of this emotion, but there are those who overcome fears time and again and align themselves on the path of excellence and achievements.
We trifle with ideas of building something for ourselves, but break when encountered with few instances of failures.
The normal fear should help you with the learning to improve in the next coming, but the abnormal fear through overthinking should not halt your endeavor in realizing those ideas.
Since this cognition is not in-built in humans, each of us have the option of altering our focus on the positive thoughts of the outcome than drowning into the negativity.
The highly successful individuals in life are the ones who realize this difference and inoculate this alteration regularly into their lives until it amalgamates into a habit.
The able are not those who are plain lucky, but those who counter their abnormal fears and eventually wipe it out from their thoughts.
The next time you encounter fear, ask yourself if this is normal or an abnormal fear that is stopping you.
Is it overthinking that drives you through an analysis paralysis mode?
If it does, convert the overthinking to positive outcomes that you stand to gain from moving ahead.
Abnormal fear is nothing but one of many emotions within us as humans and is powerless just as the hot tea when you acknowledge it and discard it from your thoughts.
Imagine yourself standing on a beach with the waves approaching your feet, would you run away because your feet would get wet or would you stay and enjoy the experience – because your feet would get wet?
Here’s a clip from the famed Rocky series which defines “Fear” best.