In the following interview, the therapists of the personal growth workshops of the Mensalus Institute for Psychological and Psychiatric Assistance, share with us “Fears”, a short animation film by Nata Metlukh that, in an intelligent way, shows us the essence of fears and their constructive sense .

A short film to understand fears

First of all, you can visualize the short film:

Does living without fear unprotect us?

It’s funny. We reject fear, but we actually need it to live. As we have seen in the video, fear is a protection system. Understanding the constructive sense of fear helps us to empathize with it and listen to it instead of rejecting it and even fearing it. In fact, when we do not understand its meaning, fear grows and becomes our worst enemy.

When we talk about fear we rarely think of “protection system”, we usually understand fear as a limitation. That is why the phrase “living in fear” as interpreted by society is rejected, nobody wants it. However, avoiding fear leads to the appearance of other symptoms that function as a warning mechanism: when we do not listen to it, it seeks a way to manifest itself.

That said, if instead of talking about fear we refer to “constructive fear”, things change. It is then that “living with fear” can become another, richer and more complete concept that we do accept: “living with a fear that protects us but does not limit us”.

Do we understand then that we should not avoid fear?

That’s right. Fear, like all other emotions, contains a message we cannot reject. Otherwise, fear is generated and negative thoughts grow to the point of transforming primary thought and emotion into a system full of catastrophism and totalism (“everything will go wrong for me”/”I’ll be a failure”/”I’ll never be able to”).

How can we lose the fear of fear?

As Luis Muiño says: “Fear preserves us from danger and, at the same time, limits our lives. Being happy consists of losing the fear of fear and handling this emotion in a way that allows us to be cautious but lets us live freely”.

When we speak of limitation, we refer to the fear that does not invite reflection but rather slows down decision and action. Non-constructive fear can seriously hinder our objectives. The well-known book and video entitled “You Dare to Dream” talks about how, many times, fear overcomes motivation (they work as opposite forces) and, that first step that would help us to get out of a comfort zone, is forgotten because of the “and if it doesn’t work out”.

Of course, overcoming “the fear of fear” is not an easy task, it requires training of positive-realistic thinking as a result of contact with our achievements. The recognition of abilities makes it easier for us to value what we can gain instead of focusing on what we can lose. In this same line, Matti Hemmi, explains: “Your attitude, your beliefs and your fears are geared in your brain and you will not be able to change them overnight”. In fact, what I invite you to do is not to change but to develop”.

Developing as people who are not “afraid of fear” and who understand fear as a constructive element is a very intelligent vision.

What is the difference between change and development?

Development is growth, increase, advancement, progress, advancement, improvement, etc.

When we speak of development, the word change is implied, but referring to this first term is especially functional. Speaking of development invites us to think that we are the same person we were at the beginning but richer because we have integrated different elements.

Understanding personal growth as development makes it easier for the individual to understand that what he needs may not be out there, but is the result of an internal work related to putting order and structure to thoughts and emotions (fruit of one’s experience and inheritance).

“Fears” is a video that has been worked on in the personal growth workshops. Specifically, the workshop “Where are you and where do you want to go” has presented it to help its participants understand which fears limit them and which protect them. In what other ways can we work on constructive fear?

Constructive fear, that which stops us in the face of danger and invites us to think in a functional way, can be worked on through exercises of self-knowledge, exercises that promote messages related to who we are and how we perceive the world. For this, the psychotherapist is in charge of guiding the discovery of “the voice of constructive fear” with interviews, narrative techniques, illustrated stories and experiential exercises among others.

The result of this type of dynamics is a greater contact with the discourse of functional fear. In short, the objective is to listen to it, understand it and accept it

Acceptance is the key point that “allows us to afford”, worth the redundancy. I, you, him and all of us feel fear, it is a natural and necessary emotion, it is an indispensable element to adapt ourselves to the environment and that the environment adapts to us. Working with resistances (thoughts that do not allow) is another of the fundamental tasks to make our beliefs more flexible and to facilitate the understanding of fear.

Thank you very much.

Interview by Mª Teresa Mata.