Understanding fear is critical in coping with it. We humans suck at what we do not understand and invent whole mythologies to explain it. Think of how primitives explained thunder to know how we treat fear when we do not understand it.
To comprehend 5 basic fears , first we must have a quick insight into the three tiered human ecosystem that they affect.
At the center of our ecology are we ourselves.
In the next concentric circle are our friends and loved ones. They are our first degree connect.
In the next concentric circle, is world at large ( or our 2nd to 6th order connects if the “small world hypothesis” (SWH)is accepted. SWH posits, that everyone in human race is connected to everyone else by maximum of a sixth order connect or six degrees of separation.This means two strangers anywhere on planet can be linked together with six connections in between them)
So in this social ecology where we live, first three of our top fears are related to self and then one each, to our 1st order connects and our 2nd to 6th order connects.
Now that we have contextualized them here then is the list of Big 5 fears.
Related to self
1) Fear of annihilation ( Death/ mortality….)
2) Fear of mutilation (Physical harm / amputation …..)
3) Fear of entrapment ( loss of control/ powerlessness…..physical as well as psychological)
Related to our friends and lovers
4) Fear of loss of connect ( rejection/ separation/parting …..)
Related to small world out there
5) Fear of loss of self ( shame/ being found out as phony….)
All other fears are derived and can be traced back to these five fundamental fears.
Fear of failing is a hybrid of 4) & 5)
Fear for safety of children is mix of 1) & 4)
Fear of public speaking is largely a form of fear 5)
Now fear is common in animal kingdom as well, with less social specie still experiencing the first four of them. Fear exists as it gives us an evolutionary advantage of increasing our safety.
However with the resident negative bias humans have, they have invented a meta fear or fear of fear. This is when the mind constructs fear from its painful memories of earlier fearful encounters and makes you take fight or flight posture. More often than not it is this ghost fear we encounter in our day to day working.
We cannot rid ourselves of our fears as they are hard-wired but by cataloging and naming them we can widen our awareness of them. Their enhanced consciousness is the only antidote that we have against them.
More aware we are of our fears and their incidence, less intensely we tend to feel them.