Fear – Not part of our DNA

Have you ever noticed a brand-new baby will startle and often cry at the sound of a loud noise? Have you noticed. Or, when carrying a brand-new baby and you switch the baby’s position, such as from your chest to its crib in a downward motion, they startle and begin to cry? For years I always thought babies startled at loud noises due to very clean ears. Therefore, the noise hurt their ears. babyI now know differently! Babies react to loud noises due to fear. Babies react to sudden movements due to the fear of falling. Every fear we possess, other than the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises, we learn along the way. [1] Experts have a hard time agreeing on which emotions we posses at birth and which ones we learn or develop later in life. Almost all agree the capacity to love and receive love is with us from the very beginning. Everything else is learned behaviors.

I like the way Dr. Seth Pollak expresses his viewpoint, “it is likely that what humans enter the world with is a general ability to learn. We have an amazing ability to be able to pick up on various things that are happening in the environment and remember them and group them together. As a result of these very, very powerful abilities to learn, what we’re able to do is master lots of different complex behaviors…” [2]

We are born with an innate sense at the very beginning of life; called instinct. What is not instinct is learned. In order for one to survive, one must learn. We must quickly learn about the environment which surrounds us. A baby, through the brain’s capacity to learn, quickly develops trust, sadness, anger, joy, etc. A baby learns quickly which actions bring certain responses from the world around him. The baby learns when he cries he gets attention. If the humans around him don’t respond when he cries he learns screaming gets the desired reaction, and so on. If a baby is ignored and not cared for it soon learns its environment is harsh and unyielding. Recognizing it is unable to care for itself; it will give up and become a failure to thrive baby. The baby will die unless intervention takes place. The brain is a powerful, powerful machine. It would not surprise me one iota if at birth our brain is functioning at maximum learning capacity. Unless man interferes nothing will distort, hinder or sidetrack the learning process.

I shared in a previous blog, “I learned how to adapt to my fear. Oh, it still controlled me. It still had great impact on my decisions. It still affected my relationships. But I adapted in such a way no one knew. Here’s the kicker; no one knew…. not even me”! Because fear was so ingrained in me at a very young age it became as much a part of me as my skin. Fear became a part of every fiber of my being, I didn’t recognize it as an emotion, reaction or a response; it simply became who I was.fearless tweety

Now for the good news! If fear of loud noises and fear of falling are the only 2 fears we possess at the time of birth, we can unlearn those unhealthy fears we have been gathering along the way. Unhealthy fears need no longer control our thoughts and actions. Fear once learned will always be with us and is a good thing. God gave us fear as a protective mechanism. Healthy fear warns us of danger, tells us to take cover when a tornado is heading our way, or when lightning bolts are flashing all around. Healthy fear tells us driving at speeds over 120 mph may not be good for our survival. The danger lies when the healthy fear of protection becomes unhealthy, potentially paralyzing fear. Unhealthy fear keeps us from moving forward. Unhealthy fear keeps us from experiencing life to the fullness for which we were intended and keeps us from doing/tasting things we might enjoy. Unhealthy fear keeps us from enjoying relationships and from trusting God.

God did not intend for us to lead a life of fear. He intended for us to lead a life of trust, confidence, and of strength. We can re-learn our responses to unhealthy fear. I am counting on it!

Until next time,


For the Spirit which God has given us is not a spirit of cowardice, but one of power and of love and of sound judgement. 2nd Timothy 1:7


Author: Sandra

I became a writer in my later years. I love blogging and sharing life with others. I speak to women's groups about the Christian life.

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