Body and mind cannot be separated. They are a continuum in which experiences take place. One influencing the other. In this article I focus on psychological aspects of fear, but it is good to keep in mind that those aspects are always connected to our physical experiences, and vice versa.
Fearful feelings often appear when something triggers us. This trigger can be sensory input, a loud sound, unexpected touch, alarming smell or seeing something dangerous or scary. Fear can also be triggered by our mind generating scary thoughts, worries about undesirable future events, or the popping up of involuntary images.
What to fear is something we learn through our own past experiences, or through experiences or hear-say from other people. This means that one stimulus can have different effects on different people, depending on what we have learned. How we react to a particular stimulus, is a process which happens within us.
When I feel fearful, anxious or panicky, I notice it often originates from particular thoughts running through my mind. These thoughts can be linked to something that happens in my surroundings, but they can also seem to pop up out of nowhere.
Fearful thoughts lead to fearful sensations in my body, like muscular tension, superficial breathing, accelerated heart beat (read this article about physical aspects of fear). In turn, fearful sensations in my body stimulate the generation and continuation of fearful thoughts in my mind.
This feedback loop between mind and body can create a continuous state of fearfulness. In this state, it can feel impossible to stop the scary, racing thoughts in my mind.
There are ways to consciously influence this feedback loop. Want to know what I do in this situation? In this article I describe my approach.