It’s Halloween, and here in the U.S., we’re in the middle of election season. This is the scariest time of the year for sure. I’m going to use this chance to think about why we humans like to be scared, yet we let fear make our lives so hard.
We’re a species that wants and fears change. Let’s look at what fear is and why we love and hate it so much.
The Psychology of Fear: How Fear Drives Us and What We Can Do About It
I used to walk to school by myself when I was a young boy. This was a great time to get some exercise and get lost in my thoughts. I was one of those kids who loved to explore their own minds.
On my way to school one morning, a dog barked at me as I passed by an enormous gate. The animal was loud, but I never saw it. I instinctively crossed the sidewalk and ran into the street to get away from the horrible barking. I ran into an enormous truck that was coming around the corner at the same time I was getting away from to the monster canine.
I ended up with just a mild concussion, but other than that, I wasn’t hurt. My parents watched me closely for the rest of the day after leaving the hospital.
Later, I discovered that the animal in question was only about the size of a toaster. He did a great job of scaring the crap out of everyone because they couldn’t see behind the large fence. That creature kept people at bay with stealth, surprise, and fear.
Fear — What is it?
Fear is a complicated feeling that can stop you in your tracks or get you going a mile a minute. It’s often marked by a feeling of worry or dread before something happens.
But fear isn’t just a feeling; it’s an action that causes our brains to release chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. Chemicals like these can make us feel tense, worried, and scared.
The best way to deal with fear is to figure out where it comes from so you can handle it better. Many people who work in high-stress or dangerous jobs develop strategies for handling fear in order to get the job done.