The part of the brain responsible for processing fear and storing the events we faced as emotional experiences is called the Amygdala. This is where fear is conceived , remembered and the brain uses the information to move the body to action. The amygdala has two sources of input to this response management control . The fastest response is subconsciously tells the body 10 times quicker than the other routes in the human body. Eventually the slower response reaches the amygdala a fifth of a second and processes the fear. At this moment we can either face the fear emotionally or rationally. At this event we are subconsciously reacting to this fear as the body is in high alert and the brain confirm this fear as a real threat. The body is now prepared for action for survival by running away, fighting or hiding by staying still. It reminds me of starting the engine and the car is ready to speed away. The problem with this amazing mechanism we have is the body response to fear is often not a life or death consequences.
Related to fear is anxiety or a perceived threat that pumps up the body for action. The brain is programmed by our past experiences so the information stored is the catalyst of subconscious action. For example as a child you that you were bullied and had very harsh parents. The brain remembers all conflicts as harmful and the natural response is to have fear with any threat of conflict. That is very simple illustration but helps understand why we have fear for survival. The brain remembers even if we don’t remember why we have a fear.. The best way to address deep seated fears is to speak to a trained therapist who will help you understand why your body reacts to fears.
A great book showing how fear responses have been programmed by our past is by Bessel Van der Kolk called “the body keeps the score”.