Welcome to part four of my six part series where each week we will talk about the upside of what are generally referred to as negative emotions. These are emotions that are uncomfortable, that we attempt to deny and avoid at all costs. Yet as humans we cannot live in a state of constant bliss. And believe it or not, these negative emotions, in moderation, can actually be positive, they serve a purpose and have a function. So we are going to explore these various emotions rather than run and hide under the covers.

We have already talked about sadness, anger, and jealousy, now we are going to talk about fear. Fear is an emotion in response by a real or perceived threat, triggering an innate flight or fight response.

Fear helps to keep us safe by being our radar for danger. Without fear, we would not avoid dark alleys at night, we would not engage in safe sexual activity, and we would not wear a helmet while riding a bike. Without fear, we would live recklessly without thought to consequences.

Fear prompts us to follow social manners and morals. We do not sunbathe topless in the US for fear of arrest for indecent exposure. We do not tell our boss exactly how much we think they are a pain in the a*# for fear of losing our job. Fear of being embarrassed, of experiencing negative repercussions, of social ramifications, helps us to be kind, polite, and compassionate.

Fear can drive our goals. If you have high blood pressure and fear for a heart attack, you may be more likely to increase your exercise and to eat healthier. If you feel that your marriage is on the rocks and you fear divorce, you may be more likely to seek counseling. Fear can help us to grow and change in better ways.

“To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” Bertrand Russell