We all fear something. Whether it’s a fear of public speaking, spiders or heights, something deep within us stops us from realising our true potential. Today, I’d like to address this feeling of fear.
Fear has been defined as “an emotional response induced by a perceived threat, causing a change in brain and organ function, as well as behaviour”. It is programmed into the nervous system and works like an instinct.
Fear can have both positive and negative effects on us. These feelings and mixed emotions can either be brief episodes, or pose long-term threats. While feeling fear is natural and often helpful, it can also hold you back from achieving your dreams and reaching higher goals in life.
Since our body is highly sensitive to the possibility of threat, there are multiple pathways that bring that fear information to the brain. Here are some of the reasons we get scared:
- The unknown
- Lack of trust
- Uncertainty associated with distance from normality
When you are scared of something, the reaction is automatic and at times, uncontrollable. Your body alerts you to potential danger and continues to act on it by increasing your heart rate and breathing, i.e. the fight or flight response. This is hardwired into your DNA and can often occur without your knowledge.
The key to overcoming any type of fear – whether underlying or learned, is to reprogram your inappropriate flight or fight response. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Write down your feelings: Every time something negative frightens you, write down a positive thought in a journal/log. As you look back at your life in writing with both these thoughts side by side, the positive advice will help motivate you to pursue your goals and feel proud of the fears you’ve conquered.
- Achieve small goals: The key to winning the battle against fear is to achieve smaller goals whilst keeping the bigger picture in mind. These will motivate you to take the next step in the journey towards a healthier life.
- Meditation: Calm your mind and strengthen yourself through guided meditation. This helps lower anxiety and improves energy levels to help overcome your fears.
- Be Vulnerable: Often times the mere upkeep of a persona that is powerful and confident is enough pressure to instigate the feeling of fear. This is because it requires suppressing our true feelings which end up exasperating the fear body into overdrive. In moments when you feel afraid, it's OK to say so.
- Seek guidance: With the right company, you can improve your life in this regard. Speak to a coach or mentor who is professionally trained at providing you tools to help manage fear and doubt and pave the way to a better coping solution.
Fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s a good sign if you feel fear – it means your mind is alert to everything happening around you. The key is moderation – trying not to let your anxieties get the better of you.
Remember, you’re always one decision away from a totally different life – it doesn’t have to be one with riddled with panic. F-E-A-R has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours to make!