In the human condition, there appear to be some very basic drivers for our existence; Love, of both ourselves and others; Power, which I feel is really about self love; and Fear which is one of the most primal drivers of most living organisms on the planet. The underlying principal of love and fear is either moving toward something or moving away from something. Why is understanding fear important to us? In human relations fear is not often recognized as a dynamic component of more obvious emotional symptoms. These emotions can have a huge impact upon how we live our lives, or conversely how we fail to live our lives. What is this demon called fear? Objectively fear is simply an emotional reaction to a stimulus often felt as pain or discomfort. Our reaction to this discomfort is to move away from it. The difficulty lies in how to deal with fears in particular circumstances and what we learn from it. There is no doubt that we need fear; without fear we cannot protect ourselves from harmful outside influences. As an example, if we have a parent who is abusive when they are under the influence of alcohol, we tend to avoid that parent when they are drunk. We have learned to fear that parent when they are drunk. In this case our fear protects us from harm. The difficulty lies in how we translate what we have learned in one type circumstance to the rest of our lives. If our fears remain unconscious, we may apply that fear to the world at large and we respond by distancing ourselves accordingly. Our fears may be generalized, which may appear to be a distrust of the world, or specific to some type of event or person. Some of the most basic fears are; fear of death, fear of abandonment, fear of dis-ease, and fear of loss of self. The fear-driven learned behaviour of closing off others, angry outbursts, vindictiveness, neediness, isolation or other reactions may isolate us from what we truly want in our relationships, which is love understanding and caring. As in any learning, it’s important to question the origin of the information and more so how we use that experiential learning, this is part and parcel of the counselling process. If you are or know someone who is experiencing the symptoms or fears described, I strongly recommend seeking help from a counselling professional. Next issue, what is the origin of fear?