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What Are You Afraid Of?

As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” We all know that fear is a formidable emotion, but why is the fear of fear such a concern? Because we exhibit avoidance reflex reaction behavior at the mere memories of being afraid. This reflex can prevent us from accomplishing our dreams. As Dr. Karl Albrecht explains, “Fear of fear probably causes more problems in our lives than fear itself.”

So, what are we afraid of? Dr. Albrecht does a wonderful job of classifying fear into five categories:

  1. Extinction: The fear of death. This is the big one because our brains are wired primarily for the self-interest of survival.

  2. Mutilation: The fear of losing a body part or natural function. Survival is difficult enough with a perfectly functioning body and mind, so obviously losing functionality can be a detriment to our chances of survival.

  3. Loss of Autonomy: The fear of being controlled by forces outside of our control. We like to feel as if we have control over our circumstances. This is why the thought of being imprisoned or enslaved is such a terrifying notion.

  4. Separation: This is “the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness.” This explains why being shunned or excommunicated is such a powerful punishment.

  5. Ego-death: The fear of humiliation or loss of integrity. It elicits shame and self-disapproval. Ego-death is often associated with fear of failure. It’s why we don’t take the big job or start our dream project.

As I mentioned in my blog, When Our Brain Is On Autopilot, fear is one of the five main states that sends our brain into autopilot thinking. Most of the Seven Deadly Sins of Decision-Making have a component of fear, so we will cover fear in more depth in future posts.

Now that you have a better understanding of the five categories of fear, which fear is holding you back?


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