The one thing that drives every one of us wild

girl with dark hair posing

Your cousin forces herself every day to wear tons of make-up and style her hair in next level shapes. On the same moment your sister is so nervous for her exams she’s not able to eat and sleep. Your classmate is furious about his ex-girlfriend breaking up with him. And your friend is convinced immigrants should not enter the country and defends heavily his point of view.

The simple everyday situations all have excellent motivations.

In this situation your cousin would say: ‘well, because my eyes are smaller than average, only mascara and eye shadow makes them look anything normal. I don’t want to look like a fool you know’.

Your sister: ‘ I really studied hard, but still….. I really got the feeling I don’t master the fifth chapter that well, it’s hard material and I’m not that good in it. I really don’t want to fail.’

‘No-one likes me, I don’t want to end up alone’, your classmate would think.   

And your friend would probably say: ‘ Listen, this country is already full and you have no idea who’s entering. For sure immigrants will cause a lot of troubles, but this country has already enough’.


Facing consequences


Simple everyday situations like these, with excellent motivations, can drive us wild as soon as the motivation becomes stronger.

Your cousin spending hours every morning on the hair and make-up and spending big parts of her salary on products, your sister having a mental breakdown, your classmate stalking his ex-girlfriend and your friend demonstrating against the immigration policy.

What is the motivation for those people to behave and think like this?

There are two answers to this question:

  1. Emotions
  2. Fear

Yes, the two answers are basically the same for those who are familiar with the basics of psychology. Fear is an emotion.

In practice, however, there’s a big difference and here is the reason why.


Generally speaking: emotions are the motor of our motivation.


Emotions define how we act and think, they drive you and me, your cousin, neighbour, friends, etc. etc. For everyone. People without emotions are pretty rare, not to say highly exceptional.


The mystery box


Emotions are like the mystery box of humankind. Research about the understanding of emotions is still going on. So up to this date, in the whole story about emotions, there’s only part of it that is known.


More important is that not only for scientist the function of emotions is still a mystery box, even among people themselves there’s little understanding about our own emotions.


Recognition and acknowledging of our own anger, fear, surprise or sadness is a hard job for many of us. For example, fear is likely to be interpreted as anger and sadness is easily translated as anger. See the situations at the beginning of this article.

In the recognition and acknowledgement of emotions, there’s one factor that makes the material even more complicated: the judgement of society. I’m talking about Western societies here in special, as the judgement of emotions is highly culturally dependent.

To make the point clear: there’s a huge pressure in Western societies of being happy nowadays. Actually, being happy is the biggest lifetime achiever, as presumed. Popular gurus might even say that you are totally responsible for your own happiness. Happiness is something that you can create in any circumstances and at any moment, as they say. Truth is, that in these over-the-top fairy tales, all other emotions are painfully ignored.

The gurus of the happy life do not realise that life isn’t a happiness ride: you need those other emotions too.


Another example; the basic emotion of fear is in Western societies perceived as weak. People who have fear of any kind of animal are perceived as childish. So are the ones who are crying and avoiding because they feel fear. Negative emotions like fear and sadness are hardly accepted.


Fear is perceived as something you have to overcome, especially men.


What is painfully overlooked, is the fact that fear is one of the basic emotions. Fear is one of the feelings shaping the behaviour and thoughts that move people. Meaning that fear is something everyone has, including your friends, family and classmates.


Going strong


Life isn’t possible without emotions and people without emotions are pretty rare, having fear as an emotion is what makes humans human. In no way it is possible to avoid fear.

Well what is the difference between the answers 1) emotions and 2) fear? The first answer is totally accepted as being the core of why people behave the way they do. Although the working mechanism is still a mystery box even among ourselves.

The second answer is mostly ignored or overruled as part of the way people behave the way they do.


The fact that fear is one of the basic emotions is still fought and little recognized.  


So what could drive every one of us wild? The answers are emotions and in special fear. Fear is the emotion that is little recognised and accepted. Still, fear is a motivator. The stronger it is, the wilder it becomes. If you like it or not, it’s one of the prime movers of human behaviour and thoughts.

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