I believe that fear is the true illness we experience in small or big doses in our everyday life and in our society. Fear is more dangerous than we think because it can take out the worst of us. In a political time when fear is used by populist leaders to gain power, it’s important to pause for a second and think about how we deal with fear and what we can do to fight it when its dark shadow shows up in front of us.

There are 5 common ways fear manifests into our lives:

1. Fear of judgment

We experience it on a professional level when our boss has to evaluate our work, and on a personal level when we are dating and falling in love. The invisible shield we can use to protect us from hurt coming from judgment is our true self. If we stay true to who we are, we can take judgment as a lesson and try to do better next time.

2. Fear of the unknown

The majority of people live well in the comfort zone and find security in everyday habits. When they face something new, fear takes over. Fear closes doors and the best way to fight it is opening our heart to the idea that the unknown can change our life for the better. When I moved to London, I had no plans and I was afraid of not being able to build a professional life there. The unknown had other plans for me—I met the love of my life in London.

3. Fear of the other

Populist leaders take advantage of this type of fear to attract voters and the consequence is the spread of racism. The potential for enrichment hidden behind the ghost of fear is precious—when we meet different people and cultures we have the opportunity to LEARN something new about the world and about ourselves.

4. Fear of putting ourselves out there

Creative people face this fear all the time. When people tell me they admire my courage of putting my writing out, I tell them that if there is a deep desire burning inside their gut they should always listen. I believe that sooner or later everybody finds the courage to do what they really feel—if they don’t probably they don’t feel it enough and life can go on.

5. Fear of loneliness

Companionship is one of the basic ingredients for a happy life, but it’s not enough to find a healthy balance. Some people love staying busy and I suspect they also do it because they are scared of spending time with themselves, getting bored—or maybe exploring the abyss of the human mind. It’s VERY important to find time for yourself because if you don’t do it you’ll never know your true self. In that magical time when you start to appreciate time with yourself, loneliness becomes aloneness.

Remember that your thoughts are what you are and what you get in life. If your mind is filled with fears, those fears will manifest sooner or later. Fight your negative thoughts with self-awareness, openness and follow your gut!

Originally published at medium.com