The Happiness Project is now reviewed on Philosophy of Living!
What is fear?
In its basic sense, fear is not wanting or being afraid of an undesirable outcome to happen. Thus reasons of fear is that you visualize an undesirable outcome or event and then fear its occurrence.
This is the role fear plays in preserving living creature. Without this mechanism, many undesirable events/outcomes wouldn’t have been avoided. However, the condition becomes handicapping for those obsessing about irrational fears.
Most people attempt to resolve this by operating on their fear itself. The use techniques like: distract your attention, try to overcome your fear…etc. However, such techniques are not sustainable. They might send obsessive fear off, but soon it returns again in attacks. It’s not a permanent solution.
Understand: it’s ALWAYS difficult to operate on your Self. When confronted with any situation in life, if there is a path to get thing done other than through the Self inside; then, opt for it immediately (sadly, this is not the norm).
Instead, operate on the object of fear.
- When you are attacked by a specific fear, consciously identify the undesirable outcome/event triggering your fear (based on my essential definition of fear I defined above). Make sure here that you go through the rabbit hole in pinpointing the real undesirable outcome/event behind your fear.
- Once you know the undesirable outcome/event causing you the fear, you have two options:
- Alter your perception of the outcome/event itself.
How many times you rebelled against something only to find out later that it wasn’t that bad at all? How many times you feared something to find that it was in fact interesting to happen? Sometimes our own perceptions make the outcome/event an undesirable one yet when we ground things in reality or attach them to context, our perception of them changes 180 degrees.
If possible, look at the outcome/event and see what’s about it that can make you perceive it as fear-free.
2. Narrow your definition of what’s fearful.
Fear is sometimes an impulse. If you are not attentive in such time, it will take you over without you giving yourself a chance to think rationally about it. In such cases, when you suddenly say “wait a minute, what am I afraid of”, you may find nothing deserves the fear.
The best way to trap such type of fear (i.e. when it comes as an impulse), is to ask What If?
For example, you are giving a presentation at work and after you were done, you were struck by the fear that you presented badly. In such case, it can turn out to the worst by haunting you down a spiral of negative thoughts. Now, “what if I presented badly”; my colleagues would say that I am not good at public speaking. So What?
Are you going to be fired. No. Are you going to miss the promotion. No (unless your job is not about presenting, which is another thing). Are you going to be hated or ignored by your colleagues. No.
Probably even, your audience won’t remember anything about your bad presentation 3 days after it.
Whenever possible, work on eliminating some of your fears by putting them out of consideration completely. The What If analysis is a viable technique to trivialize your fear, taking it out of the equation.
3. Defuse the influence of the outcome/event by counteracting.
Some things are intrinsically fearful, with no simple angles to exploit for a perception change. For example, fear of death. This is something we cannot alter our perception of it, for obvious reasons.
If you fear something, it means it has direct influence on you. What if you can remove this influence? You are right: you won’t fear it. Let’s take death for example. What would be its influences on you: leaving your beloved, being not ready to meet your God (if you are a believer), feeling pain in the process… This is just a non-exhaustive list to show the method; each one can add his reasons. Thus, in this technique start by enlisting the influences of that thing you fear.
Then, as you tackle each influence, attempt to defuse it by counteracting with an action or mental thought. Following the same example list:
Leaving beloved ones –> In the other world, things are not the same. Your perception changes. You are totally detached for life and is now governed by different rules.
Being not ready to meet your God –> That’s the easiest. Be always ready (if it means to you keeping your prayers…etc.)
Feeling pain in the process –> Well, if it’s going to be really the process of death, understand that it’s soon going to end and things will go away soon. It’s not a pain you’re going to live with.
Doing this exercise, each individual influence is defused once you acted on it.
Whenever faced with a something fearful which its influences are not solvable (like Death), alright, leave its influences as they are. Just defuse their control over you.
It’s brutal; the fact of hearing one’s death sentence. However, it’s still contradictory to logic. We all know that we’re sentenced to death. This then begs the question: why do we yearn, cry, and rebel over the knowledge of having a terminal illness and going to die while we know that we are going to die?
Death is the only unshakable must destination we are all heading to yet it’s the most kept hidden, by design. Societies and activities keep death several steps away that we almost forget about it. The sudden knowledge of one’s impending death due to a terminal illness is thus disruptive to this motion. Now, he sees death starring him in the eye; without a layer of isolation presented in the daily busyness and the society. Therefore, the yearn over the piece of knowledge is not due to the newness of the knowledge or that it wasn’t known beforehand. It’s due to not thinking about death; meaning one wasn’t thinking about it at all before that, or it just passes in front of him with the news of someone else’s death or maybe remembering it from time to time yet without the intensity of the one who’s waiting for his death per a terminal illness. This takes us to the answer of the question.
Death antidote is hope. And hope is an excellent ingredient for procrastination. Everyone has a hope for tomorrow, for next year, for next decade. Everyone procrastinates his own death to the long future. We have abundance of time. That way we can live happily and comfortably with the inevitable fact. That way we can live even with our wrongness. Terminal illness and explicit knowledge just cut the hope and define a deadline. Now the soothers are gone that’s why one cannot withstand the fact without the painkiller.
For a rational person then, it doesn’t matter terminal illness or anything else. These are all routes to the same destination. And I have an argument that Terminal Illness or one’s knowledge of its impending death, while brutal yet has one extreme benefit – even at the thinking level rather than actuality: You have a chance to finish well. Who would hate to have the time to amend relationships, to comfort beloved, to organize things, to apologize for those offended, or to finish up a pending task of importance? Given the fact that one would die anyway, then, you would prefer to know about it beforehand, right? At least so that you prepare your leave; better than to be gone all of a sudden without a goodbye and with your affairs cluttered. This is an extreme benefit from this.
But how to prepare yourself emotionally so that you don’t extreme shock one day if you ever was put in this situation (or from obsessing about it, if you are OCDed or Hypochondriac) AND also benefit if you didn’t ever encounter this and died on your own? Here is how:
- Who needs hope if one would live in Today? If there is no tomorrow, there is no need for hope. Hope is futuristic; it cannot be there in the Present. Live and enjoy your today and you won’t feel worried about not catching tomorrow.
- The notion of Time Abundance is society made. Everything is set into motion. No one is talking about death. Act out of urgency. You have a limited time compared to what you would want to do in a typical life. Time is not abundant and soon your time will be gone. Thus, make sure you live a rich life.
- Your role as a human is to work and do life; not guarantee your lifetime survival. Keep busy with your life in the right way.
- Every way is a way to the same end. It doesn’t matter how each one would die. It’s that everyone is dying regardless he was sick or sleeping. The sick is actually having the benefit over the sleeping: he can prepare and say goodbye. The sleeping one is just gone at the current state. When all ways lead to the same destination; then. the way of your knowledge would be the best one.
Get busy with what you should do and how you should live your life. This will make your life productive and will protect your sanity if you ever came to know about your own death.
Woe for those who embarked on any work or treatment without connection to other human being(s). He surely missed a lot.
Creating and forging deep connections with other human beings, even when we don’t know them, should be the pursuit of life. Through work of arts, through science… through love. An artist ought to create his art to create connections with humans rather than solely expressing himself, or seeking glory, or fame. A scientist works day and night over a pressing humanity problem; to connect with those human beings somewhere who shall be affected by his discovery. A writer and thinker creates thought that can reach those who doesn’t know and affect their lives and emotions.
And a love that is created inside us; enough of it being just a connection. A connection through which human feels worthwhile. What the success of the entire life would be without a connection of love. The connection that lasts even when you no longer exists.
For those looking for meanings for their work; meanings for their relationships. A connection of love is what it is. A connection to other human being(s) is the ultimate seek. It’s the warmth of life.
It’s when the parts of me refusing to live. And who doesn’t need a Will to Live in this life?
It’s when the emotions die from the brutal crushing of days. Of the ensuing sword of life.
It’s when the taste is gone; along with other bodily senses. When the biological becomes mere machinery.
And how not to feel sadness in a world ruled by pain at every encounter? Of the fear of days. Of the shrink of control over what happens.
No, no. That’s not even sadness. I am talking about Sadness Unto Death.
It’s when the parts of me refuse to live.
And should they live? To survive the days? To do the roles? To take care of affairs? The comedy of life…
For the sadness that is inevitable, Sadness Unto Death stands as humanly; not in the giving up to it but in the refusal to live the world that brought it to exist.
It’s when the parts of me refusing to live.
Since when the pen has become the friend.
When there was a need for none to offend.
You took the pen with an end.
Only to find it the best thing you’ve ever held.
You see, you needed a friend…
But you dreaded holding only a pen.
Now you see, it’s the only friend.
All shall see the end…
But only it shall I befriend.