The Science Behind Fear – Is Your Life Dictated By It?

Fear is a natural emotion. We benefit from it as much as it limits us. The science behind fear is, to say the least, profound and complex. Fear will never desist to exist in our lives and therefore the only path we can take is to embrace it. And learn how fear helps and limits us and ultimately how to conquer it. We must understand the science behind fear so that we can begin to take action on the critical role it plays in our lives.

Most of us go through our entire lives completely limited by fear. For most of us, a vast part of our lives is dictated by fear. We fail to take on opportunities and experience growth because we do not understand fear. We do not embrace it nor do we learn how to grow from it. Once fear is not a limitation and we become less dependent on its negative impact, then you will start to recognize an endless horizon of opportunities.

What Is Fear?

Fear is an emotion that starts with a stressful stimulus in the brain and ends with a chemical reaction in the body. In layman terms, fear is a reaction to something that our brain recognizes as a risk to our well-being. It is an induced feeling when danger is perceived.


Generally speaking, fear is not a human emotion but rather an emotion that is old as Earth itself. It affects all living beings. Fear dictates when there is a perceived threat to an organism’s integrity or existence. And therefore it is both a natural and useful emotion. Having said that, fear at its core function is not necessarily a bad thing, but quite the contrary in some instances.

What Happens To Our Brain?

Fear is triggered in our brains, more specifically in the Amygdala region. It causes a chemical chain reaction in our bodies to help us activate motor functions that initiate fight or flight. Other parts of the brain are triggered as well as additional processes occur during this time, which will be described shortly.

Brain 6So let’s take a short deep dive. The Thalamus helps our brain decide where to send incoming sensory data, then the Sensory Cortex decodes that data. Next the Hippocampus stores and retrieves such data to determine the reality and context of the incoming data. This process happens in the Amygdala region for fear specific emotions where those precise memories are stored and where those emotions are decoded. Lastly, a threat is determined based on those memories. The Hypothalamus then activates the fight or flight response in our bodies.

How Fear Helps & Limits Us

Fear at its core function helps us. It exists to preserve our integrity and existence. It is that simple and there is not much to it.

On the other hand, fear can significantly limit us. It can take possibilities from us, and effectively hindering our Fear 3ability to learn, experience and grow. When fear stops you from flying on an airplane, it directly robs you from the opportunity of seeing your family, friend or that place you’ve dreamt of visiting. When fear to fail stops you from building that business or project you are passionate about, you are effectively robbing yourself from taking action on your dreams. I can give you a thousand of these examples but you see the pattern here. When fear takes precedence over your desires and dreams, it takes away so much away from you without realizing it.

Is Your Life Dictated By Fear?

This is a question that will be unique and tailored to you. It is a question that may not be answered right away. Nor should it be a question to be asked and move on but one that has to be constantly revisited. The way I measure how much fear dictates my life is to be fully aware of how many things my present self would have been grateful to my past self for. What this means is how many times did fear take away from me possibilities where I could have learned something amazing, grow and be a much better version of my present self.

We are constantly in an auto-pilot mode without even realizing it. The reason I am bringing this to the table is that often, we dismiss those things we are afraid of in the pursuit of conformity and consistency. We rarely push our boundaries to explore deeper within us. We much rather have a life where risk, pain, and failure are less of a reality and we embrace the comfort and safety of day to day cemented routines.

How Do We Conquer Fear?

We face and embrace it. Period. I know it sounds abridged but the truth is that it is not. Conquering fear is a practice as well as a process and a journey. We must first find bliss in the emotion of fear, we must understand the illusion fear creates in our brain, and embrace fear as a part of you. Allan Watts once said “Do not to be afraid of fear. Do not resist fear. When you allow yourself to be afraid then you truly begin to master fear.”

It is only when you allow yourself to be afraid and master your fears you inevitably learn how to grow from it. And you become more aware of the possibilities at the other end of the illusion of fear.




The Higher Path Project

About The Author

28 thoughts on “The Science Behind Fear – Is Your Life Dictated By It?

  1. All my life, I’ve always struggled with one fear or the other. I was afraid of my shadow, then I became afraid of the dark, then I became afraid of sleeping alone and now I’m still afraid of failure.

    I totally agree with your views on fear. I think it is natural and we have to learn to embrace our fears. My fear of failure makes me put in a lot more effort and in the end I always succeed.

    I do have one fear I never think I’ll be able to embrace though, this is my fear of insects.

    Thanks for sharing this, absolute pleasant read!

    1. Hi Louis,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and own experience.

      It is okay to be afraid of insects as long as you allow yourself to be afraid. Embrace it as part of you. 

      Do not ever doubt what you are capable of, do the above and you might be in for a surprise.


      The Higher Path Project

  2. For long I have allow fear to control me and how I feel, until 2 months ago when I took a decision to let it go, I set myself free of fear and it felt great. Many of my friends actually noticed and asked about what changed, few were surprised and one of them actually told me he was expecting me to pull it off. 

    1. Hello,

      That is amazing. Thank you for sharing that for others to see.

      Remember that letting go (as described in “The Surrender Experiment” in my “Books” section), embracing your fears and allowing yourself to be afraid is a practice that you need to constantly revisit. You have taken an action on a higher path, it is completely up to you to keep walking on that path.


      The Higher Path Project

  3. Yes fear has denied us many opportunities in life, controlled our actions and reactions to pleasant or unpleasant situations. Fear of failure, fear of being rejected, fear of shame etc. I agree with you that the only way to conquer fear is to embrace it. Your article is really helpful. I hope everyone still living in fear can embrace it and see not it as a limitation. Thanks 

  4. Hi Jim, your topic of discuss is quite interesting and often calls for inner searching of the mind. Most times, fear comes as a result of uncertainty. Fear has so many negative effects, it makes one to be anxious of stepping out to embrace opportunity, we may wonder what people around us will think of us if we venture out and fail. Fear makes one to lose self confidence. Like you rightly said, it often limits one from learning and growing. Thanks for your great article.

    1. Hi Gracen,

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Make sure you are constantly revisiting how fear is limiting you. It is a constant journey and fears will never desist to exist. 


      The Higher Path Project

  5. Wow so many things happen in our brain that we are not aware of. I never know that fear has some brain functions in it.  This is eye opening. But from my experience the only way I deal with fear is to go ahead and do what o fear.  I fear dark I get into darkness and you find out that it is illusion 

    1. Hi Paschal,

      Absolutely, I based all my content on my own beliefs, science, books, and ideas I’ve come across in my life. I’ve learned to provide data and facts to your opinions as it adds to its authenticity and credibility.

      I am glad you are able to take something from my content.


      The Higher Path Project

  6. Is my life dictated by it?? Even though I have never really thought about the science behind fear prior to coming across this article, I can say that I have grown to learn that if I let fear rule me, then I miss out on several adventurers and even opportunities. My son is so fearful right now. He is afraid of minor things,just like I was and I haven’t yet figured out how to deal with it and get him to overcome it and not let it rule him anymore. 

    Fear can either rule us or we rule it and I am still growing when it comes to fear and letting my life be dictated by it. I also believe that it takes continuous work in progress to achieve that peak, so I try not to beat myself up when I also slip. Thanks for sharing and reminding me, that it’s all in my head and that I can do it. 

    1. Hi Vapz,

      Thank you for sharing your own experience and thoughts on the matter. One factor that contributes to fear to rule and dictate our lives is our refusal to accept it and embrace it. We don’t allow ourselves to feel it and therefore we dismiss it. It is a journey and a practice so please be patient with your son. Start with small actions and steps, we often have high expectations and set up our selves for failure. 

      Taking small steps set our selves up for success and there is more likelihood of continuing on a path to self-improvement.


      The Higher Path Project

  7. Thanks for helping me know that there is a healthy amount of fear that actually serves a good purpose. The type of fear that I would typically want to avoid is the morbid fear that paralyzes one and limits our abilities. I currently have an issue with self-belief. For some of us batting with anxiety disorder, fear is a major part of our life every single day. I often get nervous when trying out something new or doing things before a large audience. I am gradually learning to handle this by taking advantage of opportunities for public speaking. I still get the occasional palpitations, but I’m better now compared to years ago. I am learning to face my fears headlong as your articles suggest. I believe I’ll overcome my all my fears pretty soon.

    1. Hi,

      Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience with fear. I highly respect the steps you have taken and are taking to embrace fear and learn how to grow from it.

      Always be fully aware of what your future self will be grateful for your present self!

      I wish you the best in your journey to a higher path.


      The Higher Path Project

  8. Hi! Thank you very much for this very useful post. I agree with you. Fear preserves our lives when a threat is before us. But it also hinders our progress if it constantly controls our life. 

    I know it’s difficult to conquer our fears. But I like the way you have concluded your post describing it as a journey. It puts things into perspective. And it encourages us to give that first step to conquer our fears.

    1. Hi Henry,

      And thank you for sharing your views on the matter. That first step is often the hardest step in that journey. Once you take it, let yourself be embraced by it.


      The Higher Path Project

  9. Fear as we see it is one major factor of limitation, so many time fear has made me personally loose so many opportunities that makes me wish I could turn back the hands of times but with the help of this wonderful article i got to really understand that fear comes from within and can be conquered by embracing it instead of running away from it. 

    1. Hi Seun,

      All you have is the now. Submerge yourself in it and start with that first step.


      The Higher Path Project

  10. Hello Jim,

    I have read your article on the science behind fear and i am inspired from that, you have encouraged me to do not to be afraid of fear. your article is very inspirational and helpful. your article will encourage lots of other people also. i am going to share your article with my friends.

    1. Hi,

      Thank you so much for your kind and honest comment. I am extremely honored you find my article inspiring, motivating, and helpful.

      I wish you the best in the higher path journey you are about to take.

      Also, thank you so much for your support in sharing my article with your friends.


      The Higher Path Project

  11. I absolutely love this insightful article because it is full of great and inspiring information. This is fascinating and intriguing to meYou did an excellent job of providing education and resources; The article was well written and easy to understand. I have learnt that fear is evil and the best thing is to curb your lofe from the spirit of fear. The bible says we have not been given the spirit of fear but that of the son.

    1. Hi,

      And thank you so much for your kind comment and sharing your thoughts on the matter.

      I wouldn’t necessarily call fear “evil” as I believe that is a strong and subjective word but it can definitively have a negative impact on our lives.

      I wish you an amazing 2019.


      The Higher Path Project

  12. Thank you for showing me the science behind my fear.

    I am literally afraid of flying, which was the result of a mission trip to a small Vanuatu Island, in my early twenties. The plane was a 20-seater aircraft and the pilot decided to have a little fun with us and turn the plane on its side – the boys loved it, but I was freaked out and felt sick to my stomach. 

    After that every flight I took, I would feel that same sick feeling. I blamed it on that pilot and still do. I have not been to my homeland in over 20 years, and it saddens me that I am unable to take my children, because of my fear of flying.

    I always give an excuse to avoid going anywhere other than New Zealand for our family holidays.

    It was good to read not only the science behind fear, but I felt the human touch you had added, through your motivating words, to  be able to face our fears in the face, in order to heal it. 

    My children have never been overseas, with me and I want to get over this fear (which no-one knows of either). You have given me the motivation, are there any other reading resources that you can suggest, that I can read for further information, and to help me push my boundaries?

    I am trying to prepare myself for a family holiday planned for 2020, for my eldest daughter’s 21st. It would be nice to finally enjoy a flight without any trepidation.

    1. Hi Ilaisaane,

      Absolutely love your honest, caring and thorough perspective and experience on the matter.

      There are so many things I would love to share with you but I strongly believe the best advice I can give you is this: Always be aware of what your future self will be immensely grateful to your present self for

      The amazing opportunities at the other end of fear await for you!

      Feel free to reach out to me at any time with any questions, comments, suggestions, etc at


      The Higher Path Project

  13. science is used in our daily life. I think that is no reasons to fear the science. we take science support everyday in our life. without science we can not have a moment. If we have a little courage, science can be overcome has become so easy in our life because there is science today. now i am going to save your sites in my bookmark section for the future reading your articles.

    thank you for sharing this.

    1. Hi, 

      Thank you for your comment. More importantly, thank you for bookmarking my site. I release a new article every week.


      The Higher Path Project

  14. I agree with your words “conquering fear is a practice as well as a process and a journey”. When I was in boyhood, my curiosity gives me the courage to overcome fear at various stages of my life. Sometimes, fear was so much that I was not able to do what I wanted to do.A few years ago, I was hurt very badly by one of my dear ones and I became depressed so much that the depression turns into fear and it damages my health. At first, I use to run away many times and it didn’t work. Later, I decided to face it by involving where I really don’t want to be. In short, I have both experiences. I am trying various ways to overcome from my last event and I feel fortunate to find this article timely. It is of great help. Thank you for sharing and wish you a pleasant life.

    1. Hi,

      I am very flattered and honored of your bravery and honesty to share these experiences with everyone. I can definitely tell you have the awareness and courage to face and embrace your fears.

      Keep on that path and there lies a more fulfilled and abundant life at the other end. Stay strong and focus. Remember, what are those things that your future self will be grateful to your present self for.

      Feel free to reach out to me at any time for advice or helpful resources at


      The Higher Path Project

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *