Fear – What is fear really? Why is it there in the first place? Where does it come from? Why do we have it?
Fear is something that is good for us (not what I expected to find, but it is!). It is our nervous system asking us, “Hey, are you prepared for what’s about to happen?”
When did this occur? Truth is, it has always been this way. If you go back to caveman days, let us say we are a caveman and we want to go wander around outside of the cave, we are about to go out and suddenly we think of our spear – do we need it or not? We are not going to be wandering around for that long, its just a short trip, do we really need it? This round we decided to leave the spear and wandered out to our favorite tree.
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As we begin to relax at our favorite tree the big bush next to us suddenly shakes. In that moment the “fight or flight” response kicks in and the reptilian part of our brain takes over. This means our heart beats faster, sugar is released in our body so that we can move quickly, our adrenaline spikes, we become little bit tense, our pupils dilate so we can take in as much information as possible and move on it very rapidly.
Why does this happen? Because if something with large teeth is in the bush and about to pounce on us, we need to get out there fast. This is a simple system built into our body to check and see if we are prepared for what is about to happen. If we are not, it says, “Run!!!!” If we are prepared it says, “Fight it!”
Reverse the scenario: we are heading out of the cave, we look and see our spear and say, “I am going to take it just in case.” We cruise over, have it in our hand, doing our thing, trying to relax. The big bush shakes. Now what happens, our heart beat starts racing, we get sweaty palms, we get butterflies in our stomach. Why? Because we are excited! Hopefully, it is dinner!
What is the difference? It is not the biological response. People assume that if we have our spear with us, we will be calm and peaceful the whole time. That is not true. I’ve heard it said that the difference between fear and excitement is what we are anticipating in the future. Looking at an event that is about to happen and thinking about what could go WRONG with this event causes FEAR. Looking at the same event thinking about what could go RIGHT with this event causes EXCITEMENT.
This is something that we have to train ourselves to do. Our brain doesn’t automatically make this stuff up, it doesn’t automatically go to what’s right or what’s wrong. According to research, we have 60,000 thoughts a day. 95% of those thoughts are usually the same day to day. 80% of those thoughts are negative, according to scientific research, in the way people think.
That means if your brain is searching for what could go wrong, you have to purposely challenge yourself to focus on what could go right. All that means is catching yourself in the moment when your brain goes “what could go wrong?” and stopping take a breathe first, count to 5, clear your mind and then ask: What could go right in this situation? and choosing to focus on that instead! That is a simple little shift, that WORKS!
The other thing you could do is think about an event that might give you anxiety or fear and just ask yourself: What key things have to happen for me to feel 100% totally prepared for what’s about to happen? If you are able to do those things, the fear should subside and you should be totally confident because you have done the homework.