When is fear a harmful emotion?

When is fear a harmful emotion?
Fear in itself is not bad. For example, we say that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the courage to take steps when you are afraid. But fear can get stuck in our body and cause chaos there. This article, explains when fear is a harmful emotion and when it is just a feeling that comes with the wide range of experiences we have as humans.

We can get sick of our own fear. Most of our problems are caused by unhealed emotions and the main one is fear. Emotions are an ancient survival program, recorded in the limbic brain. When harmful emotions dominate your thinking and nervous system, you put yourself in danger.

To stop thinking you are a victim of your circumstances and turn into a hero on the quest, you need to heal your emotions. You don’t have to do anything special to get the chance, because life offers you plenty of opportunities and stressful situations to teach you how to turn harmful emotions like fear and anger into positive feelings like compassion and love.

The difference between harmful emotions and feelings

When is fear a harmful emotion?

I distinguish between harmful emotions, which can proliferate and poison us, and feelings, which are authentic and change from moment to moment. You are angry at your children or at your partner on a spontaneous impulse and suddenly a stream of chemicals goes through your body and your brain. But it will soon be over and soon after you will be equanimous again.

However, harmful emotions can remain in your body for hours, days, or even years, nestling in your brain’s neural networks.  Brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor explains the difference between feelings and emotions: ‘A minute and a half after the emotion is triggered, the chemical component of my anger has already left my blood and my automatic reaction is over.

If I’m still angry after that minute and a half, it’s because I chose to keep that reaction going. From moment to moment I make the choice to go along with my neurological pattern or to return to the present moment.’

Fear makes blind

When is fear a harmful emotion?

Fear is one of the most damaging emotions we know. Fear blinds us to the possibilities we have; when we are terrified, we see no way out. Fear activates the fight-or-flight mechanism, in other words: fear activates the HPA axis. This is the connection between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, two parts of the brain that are about the size of a pea, and the adrenal glands, which are located just above the kidneys.

When you’re aware of the danger, imagined or actual, the brain sends a stress signal to the HPA axis, reducing blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that can think about possibilities.

What happens to you and how you react to it

There are real dangers, of course, but how you respond to them is your choice. To stop being prey, you have to let go of the beliefs that reinforce in you the image that the world is out to get you. Once you realize that it is your beliefs that are causing you stress and not the situations you are experiencing or other people, you can start living in harmony with your environment, instead of feeling stuck in a war zone.


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