Real or Exaggerated — You Decide

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Fear is real. It’s that feeling you have when something just doesn’t sit well with you. It’s what raises your internal antennae to stop everything and pay attention. At first, the intentions of fear are good. When it senses that you’re about to come into contact with what it perceives as dangerous or threatening, it moves into action. Simply defined, fear is “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.

What scientists call “primitive fear” is a necessary process in the lives of human beings. It’s intended to help us survive the dangerous situations we’re faced with. It’s also an instinct that every animal possesses, allowing them to quickly respond to any threat from an oncoming predator and use the built-in defense mechanisms to protect themselves.  But what happens when there is no danger in the situation we are facing? What happens when we are faced with a situation that may look or even feel threatening, but in actuality it’s just a change we are about to make in our lives?  Then we have stepped in the path of unrealistic or “exaggerated fear.”

Dr. Ivan Kos, To Dare: It is Easier to Succeed than to Fail, says that fear comes in four kinds: physiological fear, real fear, exaggerated fear and imaginary fear. He says that physiological fear is a reflexive reaction to a threat.  It is a positive fear that requires no thinking, just an automatic response to the suddenly perceived threat.  Therefore it works to benefit us.  Real fear is also beneficial to us.  It allows us to use rational thought to think before we take action.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with exaggerated fear.

Exaggerated fear tends to work against us. Dr. Kos says that “exaggerated fear amplifies the dangerousness of an event, creating conflict, discomfort and distrust, and constructing a distorted judgment and an overreaction” to a given situation.  Exaggerated fear does not like change and even worse, is averse to risk-taking. When you step out of your comfort zone exaggerated fear gets into action.

Many of us made great resolutions at the beginning of 2012 but only six weeks have passed and we have already discarded those good intentions.  If you have made the decision that this is the year you do something different then know that exaggerated fear is going to get in your way. Yet, there is still hope.

One of the easiest ways to be unsuccessful is to not do anything.

If taking control of your life, and your destiny, is what you want to accomplish then I urge you to persevere. The next time you’re confronted with an emotional encounter allow the rational fear system to do its job. Stand your ground, prepare for action and ask yourself is this real or exaggerated fear.  Make the decision to gather all the facts every time something new triggers a fear reaction. The process to freedom from fear may seem difficult but everything of great value is worth fighting for.


To pick up a copy of  To Dare: It is Easier to Succeed than to Fail by Ivan Kos, Ph.D.  go to


One thought on “Real or Exaggerated — You Decide

    Born This Way Tour Australia said:
    March 25, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    An amazing article, thanks for the writing.

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