A New Understanding Of Fear

In this article, I will show you a model of fear that is completely different from the common understanding of it. Here’s the premise.

There’s only one fear in the human mind. One fear to rule them all. This one fear is hard-wired into every human and is solely responsible for all the other fear-like behaviours. What is this one fear?

It’s the fear of no-existence. Or we can break it up into two simpler components: i) the fear of bodily death and ii) the fear of ego death. But for our purposes, they are both the same thing, namely the fear of no-existence or simply, the fear of death.


How Fear Keeps Us Alive

If you did not have the fear of death then you would most likely be dead by now. Humans cannot survive without the fear of death. You would either be eaten by a wild animal, fall of a cliff, be captured by enemy tribes and killed, drown in the ocean, etc.

The fear of death prevents us from harming ourselves and more importantly, from deadly situations. But how does it work? How does a single fear prevent us from dying in an ever-changing external environment?

Actually it’s not fear itself that prevents death but rather it’s the collaborative effort between fear and the mind.

Fear is deeply rooted and does not have access to specific circumstances in the external world, all it knows is its prime directive to avoid death. The mind however, is aware of all circumstances at every moment because it’s in contact with the external world through the five senses of the physical body.

So this collaboration between fear and the mind is what keeps us alive. But how does it work?

The mind creates rules that obey the prime directive given by fear. These rules are basic understandings of the external world. They are also called beliefs. The mind (ego), creates many beliefs (rules) in order to carry out the prime directive.


What Is A Belief?

A belief is an environment-specific understanding of the external world.

The mind considers all beliefs to be true. For example, the mind creates a rule that prevents you from jumping off a cliff or to approach a wild animal. These beliefs are created in your mind and are rooted in fear so that the prime directive is obeyed.

There’s one other variable in this equation and it’s called “attachment”. Associated to each belief is an attachment. The attachment is a measure of strength associated to a belief. Every belief has one. The stronger the attachment to a belief the more that belief is to be accepted as true.

Together, a belief and the level of attachment are all you need to stay alive.


The Most Fundamental Beliefs

One of the first beliefs that the mind will create, and rooted in fear, is “avoid bodily harm because it will cause death” and the mind has a very strong attachment to this belief.

Remember that the definition of a belief is: an understanding of the world, rooted in fear, that the mind considers to be true according to the level of attachment.

Based on this strong belief, the mind will then create other beliefs in order to avoid bodily harm, e.g. “avoid falling because it will cause bodily harm”. In fact babies are born with this belief already pre-wired.

The mind will continue to build new beliefs, on top of old beliefs, as new external situations are encountered. For example, “avoid heights because falling will happen”.

And then even more beliefs on top of that, e.g. “avoid going up the Eiffel Tower because it is high”.

On a day-to-day basis, a person does not analyze their system of beliefs and instead may say, “I don’t want to go up the Eiffel Tower” or “I’m scared to go up the Eiffel Tower”.


The Tower Of Belief

Beliefs are supported by other beliefs. Just like the floors of a building or tower, each belief sits on top of another belief. I call this the Tower Of Belief. The foundation of each belief is always the same, fear.

belief (top-level): “I’m scared to go up the Eiffel Tower” (medium to strong attachment)
belief: avoid going up the Eiffel Tower because it is high (medium to strong attachment)
belief: avoid heights because falling will happen (strong attachment)
belief: avoid falling because bodily harm will happen (very strong attachment)
belief: avoid bodily harm because death will happen (extremely strong attachment)
fear: death

Can you see the tower?

The level of attachment is stronger near the bottom of the tower. This is not a random occurrence, as you get closer to the bottom-level beliefs, you get closer to the foundation that is the fear of death.


Let’s Examine Some Popular Towers Of Belief

“Fear of flying”
There’s no such thing as “fear of flying”, no one is afraid of the flight itself, instead it’s a belief.

belief (top-level): avoid flying because the plane will crash (strong attachment)
belief: avoid planes that crash because it will cause bodily harm and death (extremely strong attachment)
fear: death

“Fear of second-hand smoke”
There’s no such thing as “fear of second-hand smoke”, no one is scared of the actual second-hand smoke, instead it’s a belief.

belief (top-level): avoid second hand smoke because it’s not good for me (medium attachment)
belief: avoid things that are not good for me because it is dangerous (strong attachment)
belief: avoid danger because it will cause bodily harm (extremely strong attachment)
belief: avoid bodily harm because it will cause death (extremely strong attachment)
fear: death

“Fear of snakes”
There’s no such thing as “fear of snakes”, no one is afraid of the actual snake, instead it’s a belief.

belief (top-level): avoid snakes because they are different from what you understand (no feet, move by a different mechanism, have no limbs, etc.) (strong attachment)
belief: avoid things that I don’t understand because it’s an unknown (strong attachment)
belief: avoid unknowns because they are dangerous (very strong attachment)
belief: avoid danger because it will cause bodily harm (extremely strong attachment)
belief: avoid bodily harm because it will cause death (extremely strong attachment)
fear: death

“Fear of success” or “Self-Sabotage”
There’s no such thing as “fear of success”, no one is afraid of the actual success, instead it’s a belief.

belief (top-level): avoid being successful because it means to be isolated and placed on a podium by others (medium attachment)
belief: avoid being isolated and placed on a podium because people will know that I’m a fake and that I don’t deserve it (strong attachment)
belief: avoid being a fake because it will get me kicked out of the village (strong attachment)
belief: avoid being kicked out of the village because I will be isolated (very strong attachment)
belief: avoid isolation because from tribe because it’s dangerous (extremely strong attachment)
belief: avoid danger because it will cause harm and death (extremely strong attachment)
fear: death


Short Recap

Fear is deep-rooted and not directly accessible to the mind, so in order to keep the human body and mind alive it creates beliefs. Beliefs contain the necessary information in order to carry out the prime directive of not-dying in environment-specific situations.

Each person has thousands of beliefs. Together they form a person’s Belief System. The Belief System of each person is completely unique and creates that person’s Perception Of Reality.


What Can You Do About It?

Beliefs that lower your quality of life are called limiting beliefs. For example, being “scared to fly” prevents you from visiting beautiful locations and experiencing the world.

You cannot change your fear because there is only one and is absolutely required for survival. However, you can change your beliefs and/or the level of attachment to your belief.

Changing limiting beliefs that are not serving you will have a dramatic effect on your life. Although that’s beyond the topic of this article, with website is dedicated to changing your beliefs to improve the quality of your life.

There are multiple topics that I have not discussed in this article but will in future posts:

  • what emotions do we feel when we are “scared of something”? Hint: It’s more about anxiety than “fear”?
  • how are your beliefs created?
  • how to dismantle a tower of belief that is not serving you?



If you read this far, then you may be thinking “this is a matter of semantics” and if you are simply having a conversation with a friend, then yes, it is. But for those trying to help themselves or others, this distinction between fear and beliefs (part of the EGO Hacking Framework) is critical to making a difference.

What do you think? Do you agree with this model of fear? Let me know in the comments.

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About araz

PhD scientist turned hacker of the mind. EGO Hacking is the rational approach to understanding & hacking the mind in order to dramatically improve your quality of life. There's an additional, interesting side-effect, i.e. the natural emergence of spirituality.

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