TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What are the underlying, universal fears present in humanity?

I believe that a lot or arguably all of our actions are dictated by fear in one sense or another. I want to better understand this and find a way to address and minimize those fears instilled in people. What do you think the underlying fears across all demographics and cultures are? For example, fear, loss, death, pain, the unknown?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 26 2012: Hello Jordan. In regards to your statement "I want to better understand this and find a way to address and minimize those fears instilled in people". I think one way to assist people in overcoming paralyzing fear and supped-up anxieties about the inevitable is by helping them find a sense of meaning. Meaning about their role within the Earth, their role among millions of other humans, their role in their localized lives, and their role as a person that will one day not walk this Earth.

    I have always believed that each individual that comes onto the Earth, has a role, a place, and a reason to be. The difficulty is overcoming the lies upon lies that have plagued mankind within his mind and in the environment around him. Those lies that tell us that our lives are worthless or that we are here for no reason at all. Or that age-old question, "What's it all for?" These are difficult to assist someone in understanding unless they can find their own meaning for being here.

    What do you think? This is such a delicate topic. I am also very interested in finding effective ways to address these fears in people.
    • Feb 27 2012: I think you're right on all fronts there Maranda. A strong sense of meaning helps an individual to develop character traits that enable them to overcome that fear. Traits such determination and courage. Without a strong sense of meaning an individual would have less to ground their beliefs and principals on. It could be said that this then shows through in their actions where, for example, one person avoids another for fear of confrontation.

      Another thing I wanted to bring up in regards to the nature of fear is how it is arguably always future based. It is impossible to be afraid of the past because the past doesn't exist anymore and never will again, barring time travel. You can, however, be afraid of something in the past catching up with you but that would be a future based fear seeing as it's only going to be a threat in the future. Whether or not fear is experienced in the present moment is something that I am unsure of. For example, if you were just about to be stabbed you would be fearing the impact which is a few moments in the future. Your fear would generated by a future event. Then once you have been stabbed those fears turn into pain and shock and your fear then becomes focused on the future again. Fears such as, getting stabbed again and fearing for ones life.
      • thumb
        Feb 28 2012: Jordan, I thought about your response all day yesterday. I was stuck at " Whether or not fear is experienced in the present moment..." The person that I mentioned before that gave me answers to questions no one else did, also gently opened my conditioned mind up to the reality of the objective and subjective nature of TIME. So after mulling around in your response above, I began to think about the what the present is (but a moment) and how CAN we overcome future-based fears that will always be there? The only thing that I kept coming back to was our EMOTIONS. Our fears are always future-based, but do you think it is our emotions that cause us to "stay" in the present with these fears? Instead of moving forward through these fears?

        So when we take control of these eMOTIONS, we are better equipped to live in the present moment with less fear about future events that may be only seconds away. (Not sure if I am effectively communicating what I see in my head, but I am trying.) What do you think?
        • Mar 3 2012: Sorry I took a while with my response here. I've been trying to find more ways of looking at this. The idea of future based fears interrupting ones present moment and thought patterns does suggest that we are in a sense a slave to our emotions. Meaning we don't have control over this, a reaction that's occurring in our own minds. When looking at this objectively it almost becomes absurd that we have fears at all. And it's all because of our emotions taking control of our thoughts. Our thoughts become our words and our words become our actions.

          In terms of over coming fear I don't think that there is any way of directly addressing it. There's too much going on at the root of it that must be addressed first before anything else can happen. The only cure for crippling fears that I can see is self mastery. Or at the very least control of ones emotions. It all happens in our thoughts, which are influenced by our emotions. Taking control of your emotions means taking control of your thoughts and so on until in trickles over into your actions. Only once you are in control of your emotions you can get rid of any fears that are plaguing your existence.

          What do you think? Does this make much sense?.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.