There are not many people who really enjoy the emotional state of fear, but I do believe that there are many people who have learnt to harness it and use it as a force for good. People across history and time have achieved amazing things in spite of being totally shit-scared in the process! And huge kudos to them, there is nothing more admirable then raw courage!!
Thinking back to some of the early explorers on the planet, they must have been really focused on the outcome rather than all the things that could have possibly gone wrong. When you are on a boat and you think the world is flat but you are courageous enough to risk sailing right of the edge, well, yep, you have definitely got a handle on how you allow fear to show up in your world!
In contrast, there are also many people who are so paralysed by fear that they live locked in their homes, locked in their lives solely focused on minimising and reducing situations where fear may show up. This is a tough gig because if what you focus on expands (and it does), and you add to that what quantum physics says about placing your attention on something specific, then those people are up the creek without a paddle!
Their fear only has one possibility – it’s going to expand and therefore create even more of what they are desperately trying to avoid.
The thing about fear is that we can’t get away from it. It’s hardwired into our brain and is a part of our genetic makeup. If it wasn’t we would all be dead by now so it really is something to be grateful for!
The part of our brain that deals with fear is called the reptilian brain. It is the oldest part of our brain (as in millions of years old) and its primary job is to keep us alive. It takes care of many of our unconscious activities too, like breathing and processing food.
So if we can’t avoid fear altogether (and yet we seem more scared than ever) how do we move forward?
We develop strategies….
A strategy is a plan of action designed to move us towards our outcome. Strategies help us act in the face of uncertainty. They also keep us on track as we move towards a goal, whether it be a big one or a small one. Having some simple strategies up our sleeve can really help us take action in spite of fear or worry.
Plus, when we utilise our strategies and they are successful, we create references that we can do it: we now have evidence of our ability to act in the face of strong emotions so we feel more courageous about acting next time. Now, we are starting to condition ourselves.
Conditioning is defined as bringing something into the desired state for use. Like you would condition your muscles if you are a runner, you can condition your mind to act in spite of fear or worry.
This process is all VERY simple, though not necessarily easy. The physiological response we have to fear can really knock us for a six, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes more shallow, our palms get sweaty so remaining focused does take a little more energy. That’s why having some strategies to move through this feeling as well as manage it with elegance are so important.
I will share my top five fear-managing-strategies with you next week. In the meantime, start to notice how and when fear is showing up in your life because, like everything, it all starts with self-awareness.