Fear, in some of its form, is present in our lives since our early childhood. It is a powerful emotion and a natural response to potential threats. Fear has its roots in the chemical reactions in our brain. It is a mechanism that alerts us of the dangers but can also block us from defending ourselves. Fears change as we grow up, although some fears are innate and stay with us for a very long time. The year 2020 has brought some new fears into our lives. What do we fear in 2021?
Years of Fearless Living
You must remember the careless years of childhood. Even through your youth years, the fears you were facing must have been quite different than they are today. However, humans are not immune to fear. Actually, the researchers say that we have two innate fears. Namely, the fear of loud noise (imagine that!) and the fear of falling. The latter refers to falling physically, although nowadays, I would say that the fear of any kind of fall is present.
When we are born, we reportedly do not experience the wider specter of fears as we know them until we are about a year old. It seems that we learn to fear certain things. For example, we learn to fear strangers because we were told so. The same way, we learn to fear wild animals, illness, flying, or lightning.
Fear Stretching Through Generations
We also form fears or even phobias based on personal experiences. If we were in a painful situation at the dentist’s, there is a chance we form a fear of going there again. Fears that we base on personal experiences could also be the ones we transfer to our kids. This inevitably leads to stretching a chain of different fears throughout generations.
This is also how we have learned to fear snakes, lions, or spiders, super-natural forces, etc. With passing on the values, our predecessors also transferred their fears gained through life experiences. We can even find traces of these fears in many works of art, ancient literature, fairy tales – just to mention a few.
We can all agree that we consider some threats legit, and others quite irrational. However, this does not change the intensity with which some people experience even the most irrational of all fears. The present time has taken the veil off and we have faced the fears which we had not even known existed.
What Do We Fear Today?
If you have not felt the slightest fear for the last year, you must have been living under the rock. In times when we are being bombed with bad news 24/7, it is a real challenge to keep your cool. What do we fear today and whether those fears are rational?
According to some research from before the times of a pandemic, more than 60% of world’s population have felt some sort of unreasonable fear. We may debate what we consider to be unreasonable. However, the fact remains that we are psychologically vulnerable species. Moreover, when confronted with the possible danger, it is natural to feal frightened.
Through talking with family, friends and acquaintances, I have concluded that a few types of fear are present today:
- Fear of losing control.
- Fear of being isolated.
- Fear of failure.
In times when someone else (or something else) takes control over our daily schedule and movements, we inevitably lose control. For people who are self-reliant, or in charge of taking care of others, this is a potential disaster. Losing control over your own life is truly frightening.
The same goes for the fear of isolation. For centuries, people have had the fear of being alone, because it is against our nature. We are social animals, and the restriction many still live by can enhance the fear of loneliness and isolation. Where this will eventually lead, we can only assume.
Fear of failure is certainly not something new. However, in times when people face difficulties in keeping their jobs or building new ones and simply trying to stay afloat – it seems this fear will stay deeply engraved in minds of many.
The Heritage of Fear
Just as we accepted various fears without questioning, the next generations could possibly adapt to our own view on fears.
Will you raise your kids to always do their best to have the stirring wheel in their hands? Will you teach them to be considerate to others and offer comfort when needed? How about fearing the failure and coping with it? Above all – is it possible to teach them to distinguish the rational and irrational fears? If we want to be true to ourselves, we should admit that we hope for a better world. It would not be possible if we do not show the next generations how to:
- Get up after the fall,
- Or think of the creative ways to connect with others even when it is forbidden,
- Or adapt emotions to crisis and stay in control.
What do you fear the most in 2021?