Fear is distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain, whether the threat is real or imagined.
There are quite many types of imaginary fears that we have. For eg, I wrote an article on the Fear of Missing out (FOMO) 3 years back.
The interesting aspect of fear is that it morphs based on context and shows up in different forms. It has huge capacity to recycle itself and fool us into believing its true.
With the current crisis, I found that FOMO got a face lift and turned into JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).
One may assume that the fear element is not here in the joy.
There were multiple 10 day challenges and people used social media to showcase their creative skills including painting, cooking, exercising, etc.
It was not long before the joy faded out and we were back to FOMO. People started checking their devices 1000 times a day because they can't see their colleagues as they used to, feeling they will miss out on updates.
Later, FOMO turned into ROMO (Reality of Missing Out), where people are desperate to go back to old normal and they can’t find it anywhere.
Thats because Reality is ‘Unexpected, Uncertain & Ambiguous.’
Since most of us are control freaks, we want structure, permanence and order.
So, we are in this life long battle of making reality into something ‘expected, certain and clear.’
When we can’t do that, we become anxious, we trigger fear and it follows us in different costumes.
Fear is triggered by a feeling of “anticipatory loss” - thinking about losing something in our mind before it actually happens. This not only causes mental suffering but also physical illness.
The anticipatory loss is triggered by the ego/ or sense of identity when it believes “I own/control something and without that I don’t exist.” The pre-supposition here is - to lose something, I must possess it in the first place.
Any belief becomes good or bad based on whether or not, it makes us resourceful to handle our life in an effective way. With the belief, ‘I am a function of my possessions’ or I need to be in control’, I create fear and fear cripples me.
What belief will serve me to face reality that is unexpected, uncertain and ambiguous?
Let’s take the game of cricket for example. Anybody who has played/watched this game can perceive this.
There is a moment when the ball leaves the bowler’s hand and has not yet reached the batsman. The ball at that moment has the potential to be hit for a run or make the batsman out. This is very real.
A good batsman in that moment doesn’t think about getting out.
He is simply present with a belief that he will hit it for runs. In that moment all fear vanishes. Only reality remains.
The batsman doesn’t prepare any less before the game. He does everything in his power to be fit, have stamina and play the game in full form. But when the ball leaves the bowler’s hand, what is left to do, is to just be present.
Reality is this game that asks us to be present.
So when fear comes recycled and scares you, face it with ‘I am here and now’ and ground yourself to the present moment. If you find that hard, just count your breaths.
And that’s enough.