What Scares People: Uncovering Our Deepest Fears

Fear is an emotion that every one of us has experienced at some point in our lives. It is a complex emotion that can be triggered by different things, including our past experiences, environment, and personality traits.

While some people are afraid of physical things like spiders, heights or the dark, others may find themselves scared of social situations, the future, or even success. In this article, we will be uncovering some of the common fears that people face and why they are so essential to our well-being.

What is Fear?

Fear is a basic human emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat, danger or potential harm to ourselves or loved ones. Our brain reacts to this perceived threat by releasing a rush of adrenaline which prepares our body for a fight or flight response.

When we experience fear, we often experience physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, shaking, sweating, and breathing difficulties. These symptoms are all part of our survival mechanism and are meant to help us react to the perceived threat.

Types of Fear

Natural Fear

Natural fear is the fear that we naturally have to physical things like heights, snakes, or spiders. It is called natural fear because it is an innate emotion that we are born with. This type of fear is triggered by the amygdala part of our brain, which is responsible for processing emotions.

Learned Fear

Learned fear is a type of fear that is acquired through personal experiences or observation. For instance, we could become scared of being bitten by a dog after experiencing a traumatic experience with a dog. Alternatively, we may learn to fear public speaking after observing someone else’s embarrassment while speaking in public.

Social Fear

Social fear is the fear of social situations, such as speaking in public, attending social gatherings, and meeting new people. This type of fear can be influenced by personality traits like shyness, introversion, or a lack of confidence. Social fear is often referred to as social anxiety disorder when the fear becomes extreme and affects the individual’s daily life.

Existential Fear

Existential fear is the fear of the unknown or the fear of our mortality. It is a fear that arises from our awareness of our existence and the knowledge that we will one day die. This type of fear is often deep-rooted and can cause anxiety and stress in individuals.

Why do we Experience Fear?

The experience of fear is essential to our survival as human beings. Fear helps us to avoid risky situations, keep ourselves safe and react to a perceived threat promptly. It is an emotion that can be triggered by our thoughts, memories, and environment.

For example, we may experience fear when we walk in a dark alley at night because of the memories of crime stories that we have heard. Alternatively, we may experience fear when we hear a loud noise because it triggers our fight or flight response.

The Impact of Fear

The impact of fear on our lives can be both positive and negative. Fear can protect us from harm, but it can also limit our exploration of the world around us. In some cases, fear can lead to anxiety and stress, which can affect our overall well-being and mental health.

The Positive Impact

Fear can help us to stay safe and avoid risks that may harm us. It can help us to maintain healthy boundaries, avoid dangerous situations and keep ourselves out of harm’s way. Fear can motivate us to take action, confront our fears, and overcome challenges.

The Negative Impact

Fear can also limit our experiences and prevent us from living a full life. It can lead to anxiety and stress, which can affect our physical and mental health. Unresolved fear can lead to phobias, panic attacks or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How to Cope with Fear

Everyone experiences fear, but the way we cope with it can make a big difference. Below are some practical ways to deal with fear:

1. Identify the Source of Your Fear

It is important to identify the source of your fear so that you can deal with it effectively. Ask yourself what is causing your fear, when it started, and how it affects your daily life.

2. Take Small Steps

If you are dealing with a fear that has limited your experiences in life, take small steps towards overcoming it. For example, if you are scared of heights, start by going up a few steps on a ladder before moving to higher levels.

3. Seek Support

Seeking support from family, friends or a professional can be helpful in dealing with fear. Talking about your fear with someone else can help you gain a new perspective, and it can also provide emotional support.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help you to cope with fear by allowing you to focus on the present moment. By acknowledging your fear and accepting its presence, you can reduce its impact on your life.

5. Take Care of Your Physical Health

Fear can have a physical impact on your body, so taking care of your physical health is essential. Engage in regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep to promote your overall well-being.

The Most Common Fears

Below are some of the most common fears that people experience:

1. Fear of Death

Our fear of death is a natural human instinct, and it is driven by our desire to survive. The fear of death can be intensified by personal experiences, beliefs, and religious views.

2. Fear of Failure

The fear of failure can prevent us from pursuing our goals and reaching our full potential. It is often rooted in perfectionism and a fear of being judged.

3. Fear of Public Speaking

The fear of public speaking is the fear of speaking in front of an audience. This fear can be influenced by issues like social anxiety, lack of confidence, and fear of criticism.

4. Fear of Heights

The fear of heights is known as acrophobia and is a common fear. It can be triggered by factors like past experiences, lack of confidence and fear of falling.

5. Fear of Spiders

The fear of spiders is known as arachnophobia and is a natural fear that many people have. It can be triggered by the appearance and behavior of spiders, past experiences and cultural beliefs.

In Conclusion

Fear is a natural human emotion that can be triggered by different things. While it can limit our experiences in life, it is also essential to our well-being and survival. Understanding our fears and learning how to cope with them can help us to live a fulfilling life and reach our full potential.


  • What is the difference between fear and anxiety?

    Fear is a natural emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat, while anxiety is a feeling of unease or worry about future events or situations.

  • Can fear be overcome?

    Yes, fear can be overcome by identifying its source, taking small steps towards overcoming it and seeking support when necessary.

  • What is the root cause of fear?

    The root cause of fear can vary from person to person, but it is often triggered by personal experiences, beliefs, and environment.

  • Is fear a learned or innate emotion?

    Fear is both a learned and innate emotion. We are born with some natural fears, while others are acquired through personal experiences or observation.

  • Can fear be beneficial?

    Yes, fear can be beneficial as it can protect us from harm and motivate us to take action.


  • https://www.healthline.com/health/philophobia
  • https://www.verywellmind.com
  • https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/01/when-fear-takes-over-panic-disorder-sarah-wilson-anxiety

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