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The primary positive purpose of the “separatory emotion” of fear is our self-preservation. Today many people are buying and installing burglar alarms, smoke alarms and other sophisticated devices. Yet human beings innately possess the best high-tech, internal warning systems on the market. It’s called fear.

When fear is present it is warning us of danger.

When we recreate a situation in which we previously were hurt (such as becoming involved in an intimate relationship) or when we are going into circumstances we haven’t experienced before (such as the first day in a new job), our brain sends out signals to trigger the fear alarm. Seen in this light, fear is a valuable resource and friend.

So, instead of resisting fear next time you feel it, why not thank it and then look around to see why your fear alarm was triggered and what the danger could be.

If you awake in the middle of the night because the smoke alarm in the hallway outside your bedroom is blaring, a good strategy is to stay calm and gather your wits before taking any action. You may touch the door knob of your bedroom door to feel if it is hot. If it is, it would be unwise to open it because there is the likelihood of fire right outside. If it isn’t, the door could be opened slowly and carefully. Can you smell smoke? No? Maybe the smoke alarm has a fault in it? It would be worth checking thoroughly around the whole house to make sure there is no fire. Most people would respond to a smoke alarm in this way.

Don’t let your fear make decisions for you.

With a fear alarm, however, many of us panic and metaphorically jump straight out the window, forgetting we live on the tenth floor! As with the smoke alarm, so with fear . . . stay calm. Look for the danger. If may be real or it may be a false alarm. Above all, don’t let your fear preempt any decisions you may make. Instead, thank your fear, and after checking out your situation (including getting some good advice, if necessary), you make the decision.

Fear of Death

This is an important topic to consider because death is the ultimate separation and most of us at some time will fear it. If you feel sad about the death of someone you know, then you could be fearful of dying yourself.

It’s one thing to be sad yourself because you will miss the deceased person, and it’s another thing to be sad because death is not-okay.

Death and dying, according to those who have had near-death experiences, is a very beautiful, gentle, loving and joyful experience. Why then do so many of us fear it? Why are people who are terminally ill often shunned by their friends? Why is death still a taboo subject? Some of the reasons that come to mind are that we fear losing control, we fear the unknown, we fear suffering and pain and we fear judgment day.

If you have a fear of death, be courageous enough to allow yourself to feel it.

Talk about your fear with trusted friends. Maybe your fear of death is telling you it is time to re-examine your beliefs about life, in particular your beliefs about maintaining control and your capacity to trust.