Fear is a four-letter word that can sometimes cripples us, stops us on our tracks and makes us react in ways that could save our lives or can ruin our day for no valid reason.
I am going to share about fear in a general sense and will not discuss illnesses relating to fear such as chronic anxiety and PTSD. I will leave those to the medical professional to explain such fears.
When asked what is fear, most people would describe something, someone or situations that triggered that fear. Those are triggers and does not describe what fear is.
So what is fear? Fear is one of the many emotions that we feel and we call it fear.
Notice the sensations in our body what does it feels like when we experience fear? Your heart beats faster than its normal rate, your breathing gets shallow as you need to bring in more oxygen quickly, you become more alert, your muscles tightened, you sweat and you may take action accordingly.
Is fear good? Fear serves its purpose and when we understand its purpose, we will be at peace with this emotion and we will learn when to use fear in ways that would be resourceful for us.
- “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” –Dale Carnegie
So what is the purpose of fear? Fear helps us live. Without fear, we may want to cross the road without looking at the oncoming traffic, we may climb up mountains without any safety harness and we continue to endanger our lives when we are immune to fear. Fear keeps us alive. It is a survival mechanism that we must keep!
Most of us live life with unfounded, displaced fear. Sometimes in situations such as giving a speech in front of the audience would trigger the same bodily sensations when we experience fear or when we wanted to share our thoughts and opinions to a friend or family member, we face fear, or when we want to embark on our life goals we experience fear.
Now think about excitement, what’s the bodily sensations when you feel excited?
Yes, you are right! Excitement feels exactly like fear. Consider that in our day to day living, what we feel is along the lines of excitement and not necessarily fear. When we call it fear, we will feel fearful, when you describe it as excitement then it will give you a different perspective about any situation that has nothing to do with life and death.
One of the strategies in facing fears that are uncalled for is to identify any situation that is fearful for you. Choose one that would allow you to move forward in life. Don’t choose something like fear of creepy crawlies because you can easily avoid them and then they won’t bother you so much or if your place is infested, you can go call a pest buster.
Common fears that tend to cripple us are fear of judgement and fear of failure. Identify in great detail the situation and list down the worst-case scenarios, when you do that, you are preparing your brain to find and think of solutions for each worst-case scenario and figure out if you can do anything to prevent it or if you can do anything about it at all. Focus on what is within your control.
When you identify all the possible unfavourable outcomes, question them and ask so what can I do if this were to happen?
I’ve been doing this method at a subconscious level now, that each time when I embark on a new project I would think of all the worst-case scenarios and if I’m willing to do anything about it. This method leaves me prepared to face what might or may come in life and this includes the lost of loved ones because, in reality, afterlife, there is no other certainty than the certainty of death. It will allow me to embrace and accept them and this gives me inner peace.
Our brain loves certainty so when we think of all the possible scenarios, you are helping the brain to prepare you for those situations.
Remember, focus on what you can control and let go of what is beyond your control. If you choose to hold on to that fear, notice the consequences of holding on to it because most of the time, it will only impede you in your life and you won’t be able to live your life fully with those unwarranted fear such as fear of what others think and fear of ‘failure’.