Imagine that you are merrily driving along and listening to music, and suddenly, not remotely expecting it, another car crashes into the left side of your car. You don’t know it, but as an animal you have 0.3 seconds to react and you have only 3 options: You feel outrage, you cry, or you feel fear. The most primitive emotions of practically every animal are anger, sadness or fear, but humans, in addition to those 3 seconds, have another 10 seconds to decide what to do with what they felt. Anger helps us to defend ourselves, sadness to be protected by others, and fear pushes us to move.

Fear is necessary for animal survival precisely because it mobilizes us: whether as a consequence of hunger (fear of starving to death), to flee (fear of dying at the hands of a predator) or for competing (fear of losing food at the hands of a rival). Obviously, in humans it is more complex. First, it is key to understand that fear is magnified thanks to the imagination. We are capable of imagining hunger (our own, of others, currently or in the future); and just because of that, our search for food insatiable.

Of course for humans, food doesn’t only mean nourishment. As humans we need emotional, intellectual and physical food. One of our greatest fears is validation; or more accurately, non-validation. Its presence gives us meaning, it tells us who we are, what our role is in the world. Its absence, on the other hand, nullifies us. We are very fearful of this happening to us; we think over and over how to flee, how to be validated, how not to be nullified. Fear works as a kind of long rope that, as we turn things over and over in our minds, becomes tangled. It is tied and untied, tangled and untangled in our mind. It’s as if it created waves, or wrinkles…as if those wrinkles wrinkled our brain and bent it with a thousand loops. Those wrinkles are called impressions and they appear in live organisms thanks to us having lived millions of years tangling them and learning from our fears.

Nevertheless it said that primarily there is a positive and negative side to fear:

The positive side has to do with us acknowledging our fears. If we see them inside us, we will be able to see them outside of ourselves: the fears of others. When we identify them in society or in the person in front of us, we should be capable of doing everything possible to not exacerbate them. When we realize why we flee and retreat from certain situations, we can understand why others do it. Therefore we don’t magnify fear trying to control people. That is what we call emotional intelligence.

The negative side refers to the fact that it is clearly not ideal to live all tangled up. There are situations, tools and mechanisms that “iron” the brain, they provide clarity, “they undo knots” and gradually diffuse our fears (yoga, meditation, venting with friends or any mechanism that will work towards “untangling the mind” and of course, the bravery generated by this clarity).

Writing these articles always scares me. There is always a moment of terror of not knowing what to write, how to debate, which way to go. But that is precisely what mobilizes me to start. The validation that you will read it, the self-worth that it generates in me seeing it completed. After days of turning it around, my mind begins to untangle, and satisfaction makes its appearance.

Fear of a blank sheet of paper, of the brief, of speaking to someone we have a crush on, of asking for a raise, of never getting a promotion; all of the above comply with the function of mobilizing ourselves. Not having it is to feel invalidated: that is why when we feel it we get all tangled up, knotted up, generating discomfort which sooner or later allows us to continue and resolve.

On the other hand, when we acknowledge that the other person is also afraid of a blank sheet of paper or of a brief; a sort of alarm should be unleashed which will allow us to be sufficiently empathetic, whether it be just to show understanding or to offer a helping hand. As we commented in the article about empathy; it is just a question of making a conscious decision of doing it; of imagining ourselves in the shoes of the other person, and in this case, help them to untangle. In the same way, acknowledge our own fear and with imagination look for that hand that will untangle us and give us clarity (be it a friend, a yoga instructor, a therapist, a coach or a consultant), it is equally important and valuable.