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Let’s start our #YearOfEmotions from fear. Why do we even need fear? Well, it clearly informs us about danger and because of that is one of the most basic and crucial for survival emotions. Our nervous system can react to fear in three different ways:

  1. Fight - start to attack the source of fear, which can be quite often observed in human behavior. Many aggressive or violent behaviors can be actually motivated by fear. 

  2. Flight - in this case we run away from a source of fear, which may also mean avoiding certain people, places or situations.

  3. Freeze - if our nervous system evaluates that neither fight nor flight is possible it starts to play dead. That’s what animals do (a lot of predators are not really interested in killing or eating dead animals), including humans, although in our case freezing can be less obvious. Frozen nervous system is focused on survival and person in this stage may literally not hear and not understand what others say and they may not be able to scream or react in case of aggression (So all the comments that she “didn’t scream or try to escape” during attack or rape are totally pointless because probably her nervous system froze and she literally couldn’t do anything. We don’t control the reactions of our nervous system and cannot tell it to react differently, especially in the moments of significant stress. We write she, because statistically it’s she, but of course it works the same for all the genders).

The aim of fear is our survival. Imagine what could happen if you haven’t felt fear and for example there will be a huge, angry dog coming your way. Fear mobilizes us and helps to avoid or answer to danger. The problem is that not always our reactions are adequate and often they may be rather connected to past, sometimes traumatic, experiences rather than to the objective present.

What to do when the fear comes? Breath. What helps me (Anna) is to really stop for a moment, breath and listen to my fear. Deeply. Since a very stressful period of my life which happened some years ago, I imagine fear as a green creature which changes color to black and gets some spicks around when it’s scared. It lives in my stomach and all in all it’s quite a shy fellow. We speak a lot when he gets activated. I comfort him but also try to deeply understand his message and evaluate what is useful in it and what’s not. And then take my own decisions, which consider fear, but are not driven by it. At least that’s my intention, which obviously sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, especially that I also struggle with anxiety at times which is much more difficult to discuss with. But that’s the topic for another post :)

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