The fears we don’t face become our limits, and that’s the problem. Fears are limits, and these limits come from beliefs. Beliefs that limit are a self-imposed prison. Learning to overcome our fears is key to any growth.
What is Fear?
We experience fear, but there’s no consensus about what we fear. Scientists disagree on whether fear is a psychological construct or a discoverable event. (1)
Some believe fear is a concept we cannot apply to other creatures. We don’t know if they feel afraid or react to programmed stimuli. Studies on rats show specific parts of the brain control are similar to those of the human brain. And they react to stimuli in the same way our brains do.
Neuroimaging of the human brain shows the fear response is not always localized to one part of the brain. This conclusion supports the idea that our fears are programmable. And it is corroborated by the plethora of phobias humans exhibit.
The cultural narrative can program fears through accepted beliefs and values. People in the jungle can recognize the sound of snakes moving from other creatures. At the same time, people in the city cannot. Similarly, people who live in the city are tuned to the sounds of specific loud event triggers. In contrast, those who live in the jungle cannot identify sounds in the city. They fail to identify sounds that could be a potential danger.
The fight, flight, or freeze reaction causes fear in people. However, we do not know if animals or insects associate this reaction with fear. People can learn to associate this primitive reaction with almost any stimuli.
What are you afraid of? What is fear to you? Fear is any trigger that takes over your body to react to danger. The fear response is more prevalent in people with phobias and hyper-religious beliefs. (2) Phobia and religious beliefs are irrational fears. These are, by far, the hardest to overcome because they can be triggered so easily.
The Irrational Fears Created by Religion
Nothing creates more irrational fears than religion.
1. The Fear of God and Divine Retribution
One of the most prevalent fears associated with religion is divine punishment. Religion depicts a God who punishes those who stray from the prescribed path. This fear often manifests as anxiety or guilt. It makes people feel inferior, constantly judged, or forever seeking forgiveness.
2. Fear of Devils and Demons
The counterpoint to an imaginary friend is an imaginary enemy. Religion creates the fear of demonic forces. This is a strategy that comes from Assyrian and Persian mythology. By creating unseen adversaries, it places believers in a state of perpetual fear. This is an opportunity for organized religion to provide the antidote to this evil — for a price.
3. Loss of Afterlife rewards like Heaven and thus the Fear of Hell
The concept of an everlasting afterlife instills profound fear within believers. Fear of making even the smallest mistake makes living stressful. Not living up to divine expectations places their eternal destiny in jeopardy. The fear of an eternity of torment can weigh heavily on one’s psyche. The constant fear of hell affects mental well-being, decision-making, and personal growth.
4. Unbelievers are a threat
Religion fosters an “us versus them” mentality, leading to religious intolerance. This fear often stems from the belief that adhering to one’s faith is the only path to righteousness. Sectarian beliefs create a deep-seated prejudice against individuals who follow different religious beliefs. The fear of diversity and the unknown hampers social cohesion. This fear inhibits the harmonious coexistence of diverse communities.
5. Fear of Retribution by Religious Authorities
Questioning deeply ingrained religious beliefs can generate a formidable fear within believers. Fear of blasphemy or heresy can prevent believers from examining their faith. It is a boundary to exploring alternative perspectives. This fear restricts personal growth and intellectual development. There is no tolerance for a more inclusive interpretation of religious teachings.
The fear of losing relationships tied to religion prevents people from leaving. Fear of ostracization and excommunication are only the beginning of religious persecution. Some religions still torture and execute those who do not adhere to the boundaries of the religion.
The above fears trigger the same response as the fear of predators, dangerous animals, or insects falling from high places. It’s why people with sincerely held religious beliefs are so violent.
Overcoming Our Fears ― Breaking Free
Most people have no problem identifying their fears. So, if you take the time to write them down, you’ll probably see them connect. For example, if you have a phobia of spiders, you can probably trace this to some event or even a dream.
The problem arises when you don’t want to keep the trigger. Religious beliefs are the source of several fear triggers. People must embrace them because they are a part of mythology or superstition. So, if you are afraid of devils and demons, you’ll need to keep them to buy into the rest of the worldview. You have no relief from the fear of devils and demons. It creates a never-ending dilemma of panic attacks and anxiety. These physical systems cause cognitive dissonance.
You trigger this fear response whenever you hear a sermon about demons and devils. The same thing can happen when watching media containing devils and demons. The only way to cope is to slip further into unhealthy, magical thinking.
Magical thinking is what allowed you to accept mythology as real in the first place. Now, immersing yourself further into the dogma is the only way to cope. If you decide to stop this cycle of fear, there is hope.
Steps to Breaking the Fear Cycle
1) Identify the programming that’s making you afraid
The first step is learning to see. Your expectations create walls. The more boundaries, the more difficult it becomes to see and remove them. Those entrenched in religious dogma will be blind to the facts. Unlearning these boundaries isn’t easy. It requires courage and persistence to get past the limitations of your paradigm.
“The fears we don’t face Robin Sharma
2) Remove the harmful programming
The second step is the hardest. It’s one thing to identify your fears, but it’s another thing to remove them. We recommend doing it with a partner that can help you. It may take professional help because dealing with the source will be emotionally unsettling.
Your paradigm isn’t like a set of Lego. You can’t take it apart piece by piece. Your paradigm is more like a piñata. You’ll need to smash it to bits before there is any clarity. In the 1970s, people engaged in this kind of inner work.
They call this process “deprogramming.” This tactic wasn’t voluntary. The deprogramming team kidnaps the subject and holds them against their will. During the confinement, they were forced to confront their beliefs head-on.
Overcoming our fears is hard inner work. Deprogramming is effective, but it’s against the law. Most people don’t want to be tied to a chair or confined to a room to undergo this intensive inner work. Most people prefer to do this themselves; it takes longer, but it is preferred. When you confront your beliefs on your own requires courage and persistence.
Ask yourself, can you do it? Do you have the courage to push past the boundaries? Remember, the fears we don’t face become our limits. Do you prefer a limited existence or a life of abundance?
It’s like taking off a band-aide slowly. Our hats go off to those courageous enough to confront their religious beliefs that limit our thinking. Keep telling yourself it is worth it. Investigate anything that threatens your worldview. Question everything without a basis in science and empirical evidence.
Bottom line. If you are unwilling to question your beliefs, you will never know if you are following the truth or lies. Here are some tools that can help.
— Develop a healthy, skeptical mindset.
— Use the scientific process associated with logical reasoning.
— Enhance your powers of observation.
— Guard yourself against any misleading teaching regarded as a false light.
3) Reprogram Positive Thinking
You may be tempted to skip steps one and two and use affirmations. However, all this does is leave you frustrated. You can’t cover up your fears with affirmations. You need to deal with them and remove them before trying to reprogram them. What you are afraid of is powerful, and popular culture doesn’t help.
The Fears We Don’t Face Never Go Away
When you are unable or unwilling to see and accept something, you are more likely to have irrational fears. Fear of something makes it a boundary, “fear by association.” We feel safe if we avoid ideas that threaten our thinking and values. However, hiding keeps us from facing the things we fear.
People develop groups around their collective fears. These collective fears become our belief systems. Many of these joint belief systems are what we call religion. Some religions use fear to gain members and keep members inside the group.
Religions use a variety of techniques to trigger these fears of control. They ostracize and persecute people who are not members. The group can sometimes affect your ability to work or conduct business. But there are also spiritual fears.
Religion uses the fear of not being accepted by God or gods. A common fear is the loss of afterlife rewards. Or fear of eternal punishment. So, we see how many prevalent religions use fear as a tactic to limit freethinking.
“Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love.” ― Bill Hicks
These fears are beliefs that limit our fundamental freedom of thought. It’s a lot to overcome, but facing our fears is the only way to overcome them. More people find the courage to face the beliefs that limit and control their lives.
They understand that the fears we don’t face become our limits. The enemies of progress are the people and organizations behind the fear. You know who they are, don’t you? Fear becomes the tool of choice for religious extremism. Fear and anxiety are significant components of self-hypnosis and group hypnosis manipulation tactics.
We don’t face the facts because these institutions have become a part of the culture.
The Fears We Don’t Face Become Our Limits
Overcoming our fears is hard inner work. Many people live in oppressive societies where the culture enforces their worldview. These cultures have stringent rules and regulations on behavior. Breaking the limits of the culture has harsh consequences.
Be brave but prudent if you live in a culture that opposes freethinking. You may need to live a double life to think freely. You’ll need to learn how to show the outward appearance of obedience while fighting it. Find partners who are breaking the chains of organized religion.
“The essence of oppression is that one is defined from the outside by those who define themselves as superior by criteria of their own choice.” ― Andrea Dworkin
Do your research. Find other like-minded people whom you can trust. Remember that the fears we don’t face become our limits. Limits are like self-imposed prisons. Don’t live your life locked in the cycle of fear.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.