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Why do i feel afraid for no reason

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

How we recall memories

Its quite understood how can certain situations such as performing in public or attending an interview be scary. But why do you sometimes feel afraid for no reason?

Why do you sometimes experience intense fear even though you didn't encounter anything scary?

Yesterday while i was walking in the street i came across the premises of a large petrochemicals company. As soon as i saw the building i recalled the fact that they have an aggressive guard dog. The reason i remembered that dog is that few years ago it scared me and four of my friends to the extent that we ran away. (see also How i got over dog phobia)

This wasn't the only thing that came to my mind but i also remembered the names of the people i know who work at that company, their comments about it and the people who wanted to work at it.

Its clear that as soon as we pass through a place that we visited before all the memories related to it and the events that happened there get loaded in our minds.

Why do i feel afraid for no reason

Because i was thinking about nothing while walking in the street and because the memory was too clear i remembered it right away and became conscious of it. Now things aren't usually that direct in life but they take more complex forms.

For example i could pass by a place that looks like the place where i first met that aggressive dog while talking to a friend then feel afraid.

Now two more distracting factors have been added. The first is that the place looks like the one where the incident had happened but its not the same place.

And the second factor is that i was talking to my friend and so my conscious mind's resources weren't 100% free. In such a case i might get a feeling that i am afraid without actually becoming aware of the reason.

Now what if four distracting factors were present?
What if other emotions were already clouding your judgment?
What if you were too focused thinking about a work problem then came across that place?

Most probably you won't be able to figure out the reason that scared you at all and you will become cluless.

What if your perception of life wasn't correct

All of the previous examples were based on the assumption that you actually perceive reality correctly but what if a bad past experience affected the way you perceive things? (see How your past affects your present)

Here is a simple example, some of the victims of child abuse start to believe that the world is unsafe and as a result they see many neutral things as a threat. In fact fear can take a completely different form that the conscious mind can't understand.

A man who fears the future or the unknown can end up fearing darkness or ghosts without knowing that his mind considers darkness and ghosts one of the forms of the unknown. (see also The connection between fear of darkness and loss of control)

In other words you might be afraid for no reason because an old psychological wound has affected the way you see things and made you believe that the world is unsafe.

When you don't want to know why you are afraid

Sam was too much concerned about his future to the extent that he couldn't sleep some days. Because he couldn't bear the anxiety and stress anymore his mind decided to help him by distracting him from the main cause of his fear.

Sam's mind slowly forced him to become focused on other things in life until it managed to withdraw the problem from his conscious mind. (see also How to avoid distractions in life)

But because the problem was never solved Sam always used to experience fear of the unknown without knowing why. Had he searched in his mind he would have discovered that he was worried about work and that he didn't really want to face that problem. (see also Are you afraid to get motivated)

2knowmyself is not a complicated medical website nor a boring online encyclopedia but rather a place where you will find simple, to the point and effective information that is backed by psychology and presented in a simple way that you can understand and apply. If you think that this is some kind of marketing hype then see what other visitors say about 2knowmyself.

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