What is fear? If asked to define it, how would you explain it?
What fear is and how it manifests in our bodies has fascinated me for quite some time. I’ve definitely felt fear, but have found it very difficult to put those feeling into words.
Grant Cordone defines fear as – “False, Events, Appearing, Real”. False, because most of what we are afraid of actually never happens. If you look up a dictionary meaning you’ll see something like; ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm’.
The fear we feel today tends to be very different to that experienced by our ancestors, when fear was a signal that their lives were in real danger. When the ‘fight or flight mode’ had real meaning. You either fought the threat to your home, family or food, or you ran. It was that simple.
Today, fear is usually caused by very different factors, most of which are not external threats to our safety. We fear the unknown, the unfamiliar, rejection, judgement, failure and believe it or not we even fear success. When we let go of what’s familiar, we fear the unknown. If we step out of our comfort zone, we fear we won’t be good enough. When we put ourselves out there, we fear judgement by others. If we achieve success we tend to play it down for fear of showing off.
The unknown and the potential associated vulnerability, manifests the same feeling of fear in our bodies as if we were under attack from the enemy.
If we take the concept that fear is false and that most of what we fear will never happen, then really is there anything to be scared of? If there is nothing to be scared of, it must be our thinking about what might happen that is actually causing the fear, rather than the thing itself. So if we change our thinking, could we even turn the negative fear into positive excitement?
This may seem like a strange concept, but the fact is, a certain amount of fear is healthy and necessary in order to succeed. The absence of fear usually means that we are only doing what we’re comfortable and familiar with. I’m not saying you need to frighten yourself to the point of despair, but you are looking to push yourself beyond what you perceive to be your capabilities, or at least further than you’ve gone before.
What if your capabilities are limitless? What if you could achieve as much success as you want in your life as long as you’re willing to push through fear when it shows up? Feel the fear and do it anyway!
Gay Hendricks explains fear as – “excitement without the breath”. The body experiences excitement in a very similar way to fear. What do you experience when you feel fear or anxiety in your body? It’s usually a fast heartbeat, jelly legs or jittery arms. The muscles are starved of oxygen. Taking a few deeps breath before that difficult phone call or meeting allows air to circulate the body and in turn calms the mind. Don’t resist the feeling, feel it in your body and allow it to release. Resistance to any emotion is what causes stress.
Feeling the fear fully in your body, accepting it as necessary and even welcoming it, is how true growth happens. We need fear as a reason to move forward, rather than an excuse not to act.
What action do you need to take but you’re held back by the fear of the unknown?
Ask yourself what’s the alternative if you do nothing? How will you feel in a week, a month or a year? The answers to these questions can often be scarier than taking the action itself? Nothing changes, things stay the same and you never realise your true potential.
Don’t give fear the time it needs to thrive, take that action. Do it right now!