How Fear Works Inside Us And The Simple Formula To Overcome It

2013 it’s here and, who doesn’t have some type of resolution, goal, or dream?

As an entrepreneur and a mother, I’m starting the year with some electrifying, AND terrifying plans. When I think of some of the things I want to achieve in life and what I need to do to reach them, I can easily freeze in panic.

It goes something like this:

My dreams =)

hmm…

What if…? (ouch!)

FREEZE!

Maybe is not a good idea after all… I won’t have the time to do it… Maybe I’m not ready for this…

Back to burying dreams.

Between the “hmm and the what if” are all your fears.

All the failures from the past, the time someone said you were not good enough, the time your father left, the time your teacher said “you have no talent” and all kinds of memories from your childhood reminding you on how you got hurt.

We don’t understand how all this works, but it happens and, it keeps us from moving forward towards those goals and puts our dreams on hold.

Most athletes study their opponents as part of their preparation to defeat their opponents. Awareness gives you control over a situation.

Do you know how fear works?

Understanding how fear works

There are two types of human reactions to fear.

Biochemical Reaction

Let’s take a look at the biochemical reaction first. Your body responds to fear by sweating, fast heart rate, fast breathing, and high adrenaline levels running through your brain. This is to prepare you for the flight or fight response.

Think about what happens to you when you hear a very loud noise. Your body prepares you for the worse, it goes into survival mode, your choice is to either face the threat or run as fast as you can.

On a physical level, fear is the same for all of us.

Emotional Reaction

Emotionally it depends on each person.

We can perceive fear as negative or positive. We can see the opportunity to make a difference or stay very quiet and don’t move. The trick here is that our brain cannot distinguish between a real threat or just the memory of a painful event.

I’ll share with you something I usually do with my clients when I sense the “maybe it’s not a good idea after all” effect arising in the conversation.

It starts with noticing the inner conversation that surfaces when you are about to commit to something important. Just noticing. Then we start conditioning the mind and body for a new way of assessing the situation. Through some deep questioning, we are able to redefine the feeling of fear, and we create an opportunity to move forward despite the physical feeling. This is possible because emotionally we start perceiving the situation differently.

Remember that emotionally, we have the choice of perceiving it as a positive or negative thing.

It’s empowering to know we can actually do something about the fear that holds us back. The fear that pulls like a hook on an elastic that wants to set free.

You can actually become aware of your cycle. The moment you freeze, understanding that it is natural. Have that deep conversation with yourself about the emotional side of your fear. That gives you the ticket to move forward.

The invitation here, as you follow your dreams for 2013, it’s not to get rid of your fears, that will not happen. It’s that cliche phrase we often use, “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Only now you know theres is more substance to the saying.

The formula to deal with fear

Here are the steps to help you assess fear differently:

  1. Notice the fear
  2. Acknowledge it in an emotional level (positive or negative)
  3. Reassess the way you feel by asking yourself what’s the story behind your fear (you might need a coach or therapist to help you get there, definitely worth it!)
  4. Now that you have separated the story from the fear, you have the power to move forward
I’d like to end with one of my favorite quotes about fear. This quote has helped me through my own personal transformation about all the scary wolves that had control over my life.
I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened – Mark Twain

How about you?

Are you aware of how fear arises in your life? How do you deal with it? Share your own experiences in the comments.

Photo by: Spencer Finnley