What fear is for: the benefits of feeling fear

What fear is for: the benefits of feeling fear

The fear is a natural emotion that all species experience. However, we tend to conceive it as something that weakens us, which makes us more fragile and makes us unable to face any situation. This is so when fear takes hold of us and keeps us paralyzed, when it coerces us and underlies the bottom of all our worries and our anxiety problems.

Despite this, to some extent, Rational fear of something real is beneficial for the conservation of our existence. In the words of the writer Lemony Snicket: "There are two types of fears: rational and irrational, or in simpler terms, fears that make sense and those that don't". The difference between these two faces lies in how we have learned to deal with this emotion: We can let it paralyze us or we can use it for our benefit.


  • 1 What does fear of our nervous system do?
  • 2 Irrational or pathological fear
  • 3 What are the benefits of feeling fear?

What does fear of our nervous system do?

Fear is a primitive emotion that has made us survive as a species throughout centuries of evolution. When a stimulus is perceived as dangerous, it reaches the limbic systemspecifically to amygdala, which triggers alarm signals to the rest of the nervous system. In this way, a auto answer: the levels of some hormones such as the adrenalin and generate physiological changes such as increased blood pressure, dilated pupils or accelerated breathing.

These changes prepare us to get the answer to dangerous stimuli: run away or fight. That's when the prefrontal cortex Medial puts the situation in context. He compares it with previous memories and learning and adapts our perception to the threat, which may not represent a real danger.

Irrational or pathological fear

However, beyond this universal reaction, there is a fear that can corner and intimidate us daily, it is the psychological fear that persists in every facet of our life and that paralyzes us. A fear that has been created based on our vital experiences and our learning. It can be established in our daily perception of life and becomes a source of anxiety and stress. In this way, It becomes the basis of many psychological disorders such as phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder.

What are the benefits of feeling fear?

This emotion does not have to become something that weakens us, but even it can become something useful if we choose to make good use of it. These are some of the benefits we can get from fear:

Key to our survival

It keeps us safe. When there is fear, it is because something may be threatening us. This is the basic function of this emotion: to get our behavior to prepare to face the threatening stimulus and survive. Thanks to this basic reaction, the species have managed to survive the danger and remain throughout their existence.

Way of learning

When we feel rational fear in a situation, it is because perhaps in the past we have lived or seen others live a bad experience related to it and we do not want to face the consequences. For example, if we are afraid of betting our money, it is because we know that we can lose it and thanks to this emotion we can choose the most appropriate behavior.

The fear that makes us grow

The situations or actions that make us move forward At first they can be scary for us. To assess to what extent we want to change something related to our life, we can first feel fear and this fear may end up being a guide to what we must face and what barriers we must break. For example, if the first day of work or a new love relationship causes us fear, perhaps this is telling us how important these new situations are for us and thus getting started to fight for them or not, it all depends on the use we decide Make this feeling.

Value the present moment more

As Thich Nhat Hanh explained: "Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can recognize our fear, we can realize that we are doing well right now. That we are still alive today, and our bodies work in a wonderful way. ". If we learn to not let ourselves be controlled by him, we will realize that it is not fear that causes the problem, but the way we deal with this emotion, an emotion that makes us simply human.