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The Gifts of Fear

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The Gifts of Fear

Last week, we learned that free-flowing fear brings you focus, instincts, and intuition. In this excerpt from my book The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You, we’ll look more closely at our good friend, fear.

Fear hones your senses, alerts your innate survival skills, and increases your ability to respond effectively to novel or changing environments. When your fear flows freely, you won’t feel fearful; instead, you’ll feel focused, centered, capable, and agile. Sadly, our connection to free-flowing fear has been so disrupted that most of us have no understanding of fear whatsoever.

Most of us think we know fear because we’ve experienced the moods states of worry, anxiety, trepidation, terror, or panic. However, none of these emotions is fear! Though we have all felt true fear (there is no way to survive without it), we have so completely confused it with anxieties and terrors that we have lost our ability to identify fear as the distinct and vital capacity it is.

Here are some examples: Have you ever avoided an automobile accident by instinctively maneuvering your car out of harm’s way, or handled an emergency such as a house fire in a very calm and focused manner – only feeling anxious or jangled after the danger had passed? Each of us would most likely say that we felt no fear while the dangerous situation was occurring (and that the fear only arose afterward), but we would be absolutely wrong.

Fear is the intelligence that takes over our bodies, our minds, and our emotions, and turns us into surprisingly masterful lifesavers. In fact, in those times when we’re sure we feel no fear – when we’re completely focused, brilliantly instinctive, and amazingly resourceful – those are actually the times when our fear is flowing freely.

Your task in the territory of fear is very simple. All you need to do is learn to identify fear when it is flowing. For instance, when you’re driving and checking both rearview mirrors, easing out of the way of slowed or speeding cars, signaling your intentions, and making eye contact with other drivers – your flowing fear is at work. Your instincts are fully engaged, you’re constantly scanning your changing environment for novelties and dangers, and you’re acting in a way that increases your likelihood of arriving at your destination in one piece.

Photo credit: Francesco Marino /

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Karla McLaren

Though Karla McLaren created her empathic approach to emotions to help people heal from trauma, she ended up discovering how emotions help us think, decide, and relate to each other brilliantly. Her newest book and audio learning set, "The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You", teaches you how to use your natural empathy and discover the gifts and messages inside every emotion you have. Karla and her husband Tino live in Santa Cruz, California.


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6:33PM PDT on May 30, 2013

Very interesting. Thank you Karla!

4:34PM PDT on May 4, 2013

Thank you!

10:03AM PST on Nov 18, 2011

Thank you. An interesting way of looking at it.

8:22AM PDT on Sep 4, 2010

One evening when I was working the PM shift, I felt terrified of a neat and friendly man walking his dog who wanted to chat as so many in that African-American neighborhood did. My hair stood on end. I told him I was late and ran for the door feeling ashamed of my racism (though I'd talked to all the other African-American men and women in the neighborhood). He killed another nurse that night. He was a serial killer. Listen to your instincts. It's save your life.

4:37PM PDT on Aug 17, 2010

It is an interesting concept. I am able to tap into what she calls "free flowing fear" but it doesn't connect for me. Jury is out. I don't like giving things a label anyway.

12:26AM PDT on Aug 3, 2010

Fear can produce in many forms, but the stress it applies to one may be harmful. i am a PTSD patient, I know.

Right now I share fear of a second term for Obama.

7:06PM PDT on Jul 18, 2010

Thanks. I'm going to look for this book.

12:49AM PDT on Jul 18, 2010

Fear often drives me to succeed. If I'm afraid I may in some way fail I'll often work harder to ensure I won't. It has a positive effect on me, certainly a gift at times. Thanks for posting this article, interesting read.

6:18PM PDT on Jul 17, 2010

good article, thank you...

1:00AM PDT on Jul 17, 2010

so when God says you shall fear no is the same as what you are saying above ie.. you just do what has got to be done in the moment without negative affects????

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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