I was on my nightly scroll through Tik Tok when I came across this one saying “all fear is fear of a feeling [and not the act itself].” I let the video play in the background a couple of times as I mentally processed the meaning. The phrase is focusing on emotional fear, for example, being afraid of asking someone out or being afraid to post your own Tik Tok video. It argues that we aren’t afraid of these actions themselves but the feeling we think we will have to deal with after the action. So, you’d be afraid of feeling the potential rejection if someone says no to a date with you or the potential embarrassment if your own Tik Tok video did poorly. You wouldn’t be as afraid if the projected outcome feeling was positive (if you knew your crush would say yes or if your Tik Toks had already gone viral).
This may seem obvious to some, but it blew my mind to an extent. Looking at fear this way is so much more empowering because once we know what feeling we are predicting will hurt us, we can proactively work through that feeling so it won’t feel as bad anymore. This gives us an action to take against fear rather than see it as an inevitable outcome because it truly isn’t. There’s no set worst-case scenario saying that whoever we ask out will reject us. But even if we do, we have to make amends with that.
This also allows us to combine situational fears by attaching them to similar emotions we need to work through. If I fear speaking up in a Zoom call, writing an email to my professors, or working on group projects, I most likely fear feeling unintelligent compared to those around me. Now knowing the root of all three situations, I can talk myself through that specific feeling. I could use affirmations to make my mind think in a more positive light (so as to decrease the fear itself), I could reassure myself that those feelings are okay to feel and fleeting (so as to validate my fear), or I could talk to someone about it (so as to be honest, open, and ask for help). All of these are great choices and can help in all sorts of situations.
Our bodies and minds will make us feel anxious toward these situations because they assume these hurtful emotions as dangerous, thus triggering our fight or flight responses. We subconsciously want to avoid hurt at all costs, but that can actually hurt us more in the long run because there’s a whole spectrum of emotions to experience in life and they all teach us something. If we let our subconscious keep thinking these emotions are dangerous, then they will stay seeming that way, but in reality, no amount of embarrassment can physically kill us (especially if we realize there is nothing to be embarrassed by if we fully accept ourselves). This is why we have to proactively change our mindset. The more we accept our feelings and work through them, the less power they will have over us!