Today we discuss the variations of severity of the fear emotion, the overwhelming evidence that our new definition of fear is actually accurate, and we start the voyage into your personal catalysts of fear. Let’s go.
Welcome to the I AM Podcasts presentation of A Master’s Class on Fear, Part 2. I am your presenter, Sean Webb.
So last class we presented the new and irrefutable definition of fear, as the biochemical reaction to a potential devaluation of cognitive attachments of the mind.
Or more plainly put, we explained that when an idea you are attached to falls into jeopardy… fear is the result.
And we discussed how this definition actually solves a 4000 year old mystery of psychology regarding the exact components within the mind that cause people to experience fear. But we didn’t fully cover how the different attachment levels are directly proportional to the amount of fear someone experiences, nor did we cover enough examples to ensure that our definition is rock solid. Because I’m going to put out a $10,000 reward for the first person who can prove this new definition of fear wrong. So let’s cover the details.
First, let’s look at how the details within the Equation of Emotion affect your fear response, and create the multiple variations on severity of fear, and all other emotional reactions by the way.
If you remember, the Equation of Emotion is Expectation or Preference, as compared to Reality as Perceived results in some sort of emotional response. And in the case of fear, when the EP has something to do with valuation of an attachment of the ego, and a perceived reality RP presents as a threat to the valuation of that attachment, fear occurs.
But what level of fear, depends on two things.
First, there’s the attachment level of the threat, like we talked about in Part 2. For instance if you’re very attached to grandma, and she has a heart attack, your fear of losing her is substantial partly because of your strong attachment to her. If however grandma lived in Germany all your life, and you’d never actually met her… and everyone told you she was a mean and nasty person… your fear of losing her would be less acute. A mild concern might surface, if that.
But when your mind is determining the level of fear response, the other side of the Equation of Emotion comes into play also. Reality as its Perceived. This has to do with the threat itself. In the case of grandma having a heart attack, a heart attack is a pretty serious life threat, and can be a symptom of other major issues. So your perception of the threat level is substantial, so depending on your connection to grandma, can feed a higher level of fear.
But in an alternative scenario that threatens your grandma’s life… if a stand-up comic up on stage winds up in some line of humor that wind up with him saying he going to kill your grandma… your perception of that threat is much less powerful, therefore your fear winds up being much less powerful as well.
On that tack, if a bear was charging across your lawn toward your child, your level of fear would be to the severity that a release of adrenaline would occur, and you’d be moved into a mode of unthinking accelerated action. If however, you were watching someone in a bear costume running across the lawn toward your child, your level of fear would be less, due to the reduced perception of threat. … Unless it was a stranger in a bear costume… at which point you would STILL probably be feeling less fear than if it were an actual bear.
So both sides of the equation come into play. Your attachment level… and your analysis of reality as you are perceiving it.
Now moving a little forward in our understanding… here… is the severity variation chart for fear. As you can see it actually helps us define five separate human emotions as defined by modern psychology.
When you have something of high power on the EP side in regard to an attachment of your mind, and then your perception of reality presents a higher level threat to that attachment, a high level of fear occurs… possibly even a panic type response. However, if there’s a low level of attachment to the thing being threatened, or the perceived threat is low to something you’re very attached to… a low level of fear occurs… maybe a mild concern.
Now… so as to prove out the base definition and drive this lesson home with some examples, let’s look at some of the Top 10 most common fears on the planet, then we’ll move into some specific fears that many of us experience, and explain those comprehensively as well… so we can start to see in really concrete examples how fear manifests within us.
[COMMON FEARS FULLY EXPLAINED]
Some of the top common fears globally include things like a fear of heights, fear of water, fear of tunnels and bridges…
fear of needles, fear of examinations, fear of illness, fear of death…
fear of social rejection, fear of failure, fear of public speaking…
fear of ghosts and evil powers, and fear of things like spiders, snakes and other creepy crawlies.
So no matter where we’re born on the planet… no matter what social conditioning we receive… no matter who teaches us about life as we grow up… we are naturally predisposed to be fearful about one or many of those things.
A fear of heights… is a person’s reaction to a perceived threat of falling, and what that fall could do to the body… something which the mind is VERY attached to as a sense of self. But in someone who has conquered this fear, they can walk around on the closed observation deck of the Sears tower, as they feel the building actually swaying in the winds of Lake Michigan, knowing that thick glass up there is probably going to keep them from falling. So the Reality as Perceived by that person is that the threat is less valid, therefore they experience less fear. In someone who’s freaking out and can’t approach the glass… they’re not taking the safety features of the glass into consideration, so their Reality as Perceived is different, and therefore their fear is greater.
Next, a fear of bodies of water is the same thing as a fear of heights. Water… if deep enough, flowing fast enough, cold enough, etc. provides a threat to the body, which is a central attachment of the mind’s definition of identity. And in someone who doesn’t know how to swim, their perception of the threat of falling in is much higher than in someone who does know how to swim. And so explains the subjectivity of fear about open water.
The fear of tunnels and bridges… same thing… it isn’t the fear of man-made device itself, but the reaction to a potential failure and collapse of the thing while you are in it or on it. Either of those potentialities pose a threat to the body, which the mind is attached to. In someone who’s imagination makes it easy for them to see a collapse… has a higher fear level than someone who sees the tunnel or bridge as an engineering marvel that will probably be in place for hundreds of years.
The fear of needles… is specifically a reaction to the breach of the skin. And just like the cells can communicate to us when they’re hungry, when they want rest, or when they want sex… there within us also seems to be the natural message that things poking holes in us to let in pathogens is not a good idea. Why? That’s a threat to our core icon of our identity. People who fear needles less can reduce the threat level by knowing the needle is probably sterilized, and it’s only in there for a few seconds. No big deal.
Of course with this same reasoning, it’s very easy to understand the fear of illness and the fear of death. Both create a threat to non-body-continuation. And the perceived reality of the threat of course comes into play here. The potential for a car to hit you as its sliding toward you creates a different threat perception than the chances the moon is suddenly going to drop on top of you. And so you have different levels of fear as a result of those two situations.
Now… the fear of examinations… allows us to start to bridge out away from the mind’s attachment to body… into the mind’s connection to other cognitive ideas of self. Certainly a medical examination would be an opportunity to find a threat to the body. But fear is also felt by school students when examinations come in the form of tests and quizzes. So what’s going on there?
Well… attachments within the mind can include how a student looks upon their grades as a reflection of their intelligence… or their ability to learn… or their discipline to study the material… all of which society attaches to perceived self-worth. So what’s at stake when an A or F is handed out isn’t just a letter grade… but a validation or attack on a student’s very perception of self in regard to their intelligence or capability as a student. What is at stake is how others will see them when they receive the score of the test. And if that student’s score causes a perception of others to see that student differently than the student sees themself… there’s a definite threat to an idea of self there. And thus, the fear response occurs in some students.
For students who don’t give a shit how they’re seen as a student, or who don’t connect the letter grade of the class on their sense of self or accomplishment… they don’t fear the test. That’s reality as perceived side of the equation lowering the power of the perceived threat.
And our same model holds true for fears like that of social rejection. The mind attaches to ideas of self value. And acceptance of others is evidence that you’re okay. That your existence is valued… within society. If an instance of social rejection occurs however, that’s a situation where the mind’s perception of self is devalued… where all of a sudden we’re NOT okay. We’re NOT acceptable as-is. And thus, fear is the innate response to THAT potential devaluation being a possibility. It’s a potential attack on the attachment of the mind regarding the perception of self.
If your reality as perceived is that you don’t care as much what people think about you, you’re less concerned with social rejection. If you get your sense of self from what others think…
oh my God what are people going to think…?
you live your entire life in fear regarding everything you do.
Public speaking… the potential threat comes in the form of questions like… “How stupid am I going to look if I screw this up?” “How unintelligent am I going to seem if I can’t read this fluidly?” “How are people going to judge me when they see my love handles as I make this speech?” For people like me, who don’t care what you think of my ideas, or my extra fat… I speak confidently knowing this is going to be seen be hundreds of thousands of people… and I do so without giving a flip.
The fears of ghosts and evil spirits is a reaction to the thought, “what can they do to me? Can they kill me? Can they possess me? Can they hurt me or my family?” All fears connected with a potential devaluation of sense of self. If you don’t believe in ghosts and evil spirits, your reality as perceived takes all the fear away at halloween.
Fear of spiders, and snakes and other creepy crawlies… may partially be an evolutionary development that teaches us to stay away from poisonous things… but we also can’t rule out the possibility of it ALSO being a reaction to the cognitive mind saying… ooo… that thing has eight legs where I have two and it moves REALLY fast… can it hurt me? Look how fast that snake moves without any legs at all. Am I in danger? Again. It fits. And… if you’ve gotten over your fear of spiders or snakes by learning about them and how to handle them. Your adjusted RP allows you to feel less fear as a result.
But let’s move beyond those common fears, and look at a couple more complex fears that we experience in our everyday lives.
[FEAR’S AFFECTS ON OUR LIVES]
Okay, so… let’s say you’re in a shitty relationship. And you know there’s probably something better out there for you, but you’re not sure enough… that you’re ready to pull the trigger on ending your current thing. Well… that’s fear rearing its ugly head.
For many of us our sense of self is connected with who we’re with relationship-wise (I am so-and-so’s significant other)… so there’s the attachment to so-and-so… the attachment to the relationship status itself becoming a part of your world… and all the attachments to what both of those mean to us… and/or for some of us, our value of self is connected with the ability to be loved (i.e. I’m in a relationship, which is proof someone loves me)… and/or for some of us, our comfort of self resides in a connection we have with our friends who are in a similar relationship status (i.e. my friendship with so-and-so is closer when we can bitch about our significant others)… and/or our sense of self is connected with what society or our families says our relationship status should be (i.e. I am supposed to have a significant other, because I am expected to).
But whatever the attachment in your mind to the shitty relationship… regardless of how shitty it is… there is a threat to the mind’s sense of self when you start talking about ending it. Who will I be when I’m single? Will I ever be loved again? How will I relate to my relationship committed friends? How will the kids react to me and/or the relationship ending? How will my parents or other family react?
And all those things… are fears… connected with the potential devaluation of your sense and ideas of self. Your perception of these issues, your RP adjusts your fear. If you care about those things… your fear is higher and you delay ending the bad relationship longer. If you don’t give a flip about those things, and your happiness is what you care about the most, you end it sooner than later, because you are less fearful about the change.
Let’s take a current events situation. If you’re fearful about losing your job, it’s because your mind attaches to your job as your sense of self. In addition there’s an attachment to the idea that society tells us we’re productive beneficial members of society when we’re working, and there’s the threat of losing that status. There are also attachments to what money means to you, and your ability to pay the bills.
So there’s a lot of “you”… or your mind’s you anyway… that’s at risk if you lose your job. And the more you’re attached to those ideas, and the more real you perceive the threat… the more fear you feel. Incidentally… my friend Mark lost his job, and now he’s continually finding excuses not to apply to new ones… because of his fear that each rejection demeans his understanding of existence. He feels it’s an attack on him, so he’s afraid of the rejection.
One more quick real life story: I saw my 2 year old son experience fear this weekend when we went hiking out near the lake. We stopped along the lakeshore where he was throwing pebbles into the water. So when he was occupied with picking up a pebble, Daddy picked up a short piece of thick tree branch, and threw it out about 20 feet without warning. Kasploosh! I thought this might be a fun surprise. But Declan immediately looked up in fear of the large splash, and took four steps backward rather quickly. He was just about to start the tears flowing when I explained that Daddy threw the stick… and then I threw another one to show him… and only then did the big splashes become a new game we could play.
So was that fear of the unfamiliar large splash something he learned from mommy or daddy, as today’s psychology would suggest? Absolutely not. In fact we encourage Declan to be bold in new environments and with new experiences as WE are… so you can’t even make the argument we transfer tentative or cautious feelings to him in these types of situations. So we can throw the existing understanding of fear out the window. The reality was that he experienced something with which he was not familiar… and which could potentially be a threat to… his sense of self… his body. Something bigger than him could be making that splash. His expectation or preference (EP) was that a big unknown splash NOT occur right then, and when it DID occur, it created an uncertain reality as perceived (RP) regarding a potential threat… and so fear occurred… to a decently high level… and he was on his way to a meltdown. But just then… daddy stepped in… and adjusted his RP… his reality as perceived. I showed him another big branch and chucked it into the lake, showing him where the first splash came from, showing him it was no big deal. Now his RP was shifted into knowing the splash not to be that high of a threat… maybe just a slight danger of getting wet… and we even turned it into a game. Result: much less fear was expressed in my 2 year old boy… as perfectly expressed by our new model of understanding human emotions.
And this model… ladies and gentlemen… works to define fear… every time… in every human… and we’re going to put a $10,000 challenge on finding one example where it doesn’t. We’re putting our money where our mouth is. And very soon, we’re going to explain every other human emotion with this same model. Stay tuned for that. I just have to finish the patent work on the computer algorithms so that computers can soon be programmed understand human emotion.
But sticking to our Master’s Class on Fear… now that we know the nuances of EXACTLY how fear works in the human mind… how can we tweak our minds to reduce the amount of fear we experience in our lives and reduce the negative effects that fear brings to our lives?
THAT is what we are going to discuss in Part 4 of I AM Podcast’s Master’s Class on Fear. Please remember to share this free information with those you love. For the I AM Podcast’s Master’s Class on Fear, I’m Sean Webb.
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