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What does fear mean? How can fear contribute to impacting life? How can adversity in childhood create long-lasting fears?

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous and likely to cause pain or a threat. So, what causes fear? The deep seeded feeling which elicits your heart to race, your breath to quicken, and your blood to pump through your veins has many different causes. Many common fears are due to past experiences, and some are simply innate. Past traumas often instill a fear that remains not only in the subconscious but also in the body. Childhood adversities and traumas in one’s life can illicit a fight/flight response in the body, even from something we are unaware of. For example, trafficking survivors may be triggered by seeing a certain sign or hearing certain phrases, which can create mechanisms in the body to respond to fear.

Past experiences can train the brain to anticipate a threat and spiral into a fight/flight/freeze response. When this happens, the fear can be overwhelming. With trafficking survivors, this is exactly what can happen. Their amygdala signals their brain that there is something within their environment that is a threat, and when in this constant state of stress with an overactive limbic and amygdala, their brains tend to be on overdrive all the time. Not just simply when a threat is present.

When we are in a constant state of stress and fear due to extreme forms of trauma that have occurred, this can lead to decisions that some people may deem irrational. Irrational decisions are made when fear is present to protect your survival and nothing else. But when you look at the real cause of why in fear people make life-altering decisions, it’s because at that moment your brain is telling you to make any decision you can just to survive.

If fear is left unresolved, then you may be left spiraling. As stated before, when people are in this constant state of fear and stress related to everyday life, there is a disconnect between their feelings and actions. You are driven to survive by your decisions without any other thought or consideration. Ultimately, this can lead people to ‘spiral’. This can keep people from obtaining their goals, accomplishing tasks, and living up to their duties in everyday life. However unsettling this may be, there is hope. When dealing with fear and emotions properly, people can recover and stop living in a constant state of anxiety, stress, fear, and depression.

Fear can be overwhelming and insurmountable at times. The feeling of your heart racing, quickened breathing and blood pulsing through your veins. We have all been there because, let’s face it, we all have fears. Some people have fears of ordinary objects, animals, or insects. But with all that’s happening in the world right now, the anxiety levels seem at an all-time high from the level of fear of what the world is turning into.

Instead of letting the fear eat away at us, we should embrace it. Establishing a bond with fear can be important when the feeling of not being enough, being a failure, or simply being different weighs us down. Knowing that if we can tackle our deep seeded fears means we can accomplish any goals we want to.