Fear can be a fantastic tool to remold and transform through at any time in your life, but you can have healthy fear or unhealthy fear.
It can be an opportunity to rebuild yourself like a superhero.
People from all walks of life and every corner of the world experience healthy fear and unhealthy fear.
Healthy fear gets you out of the path of a speeding car and makes you check in with the doctor about a strange lump in your body.
Unhealthy fear is F.E.A.R, false evidence that appears real. Still, it is mostly a fabrication of the reptilian brain (lower brain) and the ego that wants to keep you imprisoned in your mind, unwilling to be fully alive because it’s too risky to venture out.
Overcome this unhealthy fear, and you will wake up to inner security that will put external threats from a new perspective.
Creating fear begins with a scary stimulus or imagine thought and ends with the fight-or-flight response.
The process of creating fear takes place in the brain and is entirely unconscious.
If we couldn’t be afraid, we wouldn’t survive for long.
For humans, there are other factors involved in fear beyond instinct. Human beings have the sometimes unfortunate gift of anticipation, and we anticipate terrible things that might happen — something we have heard about, read about, or seen on TV. Most of us have never experienced a plane crash, but that doesn’t stop us from sitting on a plane with white-knuckle grips on the armrests.
Anticipating a fearful stimulus can provoke the same response as actually experiencing it.
The fear response’s circuitry may have been honed by evolution, but there is another side to fear: conditioning. Conditioning is why some people fear dogs as if they were fire-breathing monsters, while others consider them part of the family.
Experiencing fear now and then is a normal part of life. But living with chronic anxiety can be both physically and emotionally debilitating. Living with an impaired immune response and high blood pressure causes illness, and refusing to participate in daily activities because you might be afraid of heights or social interaction doesn’t make for a very fulfilling life.
Most people know the acronym F.E.A.R = “False evidence appearing real.” Time to change the frame, as you will see in the following story.
There is a parable about a man who wakes up in the middle of the night to find a poisonous snake coiled next to his leg at the foot of his bed. He lies awake all night, frozen in terror, praying that the snake won’t bite him. As dawn breaks and light begins to shine on his bed, he finally realizes that it’s not a snake at all. It’s a belt he forgot to put away when he went to bed.
Once he knows the truth, the snake disappears, the memory of the night is reframed, the fear is gone, and he is filled with relief.
Until he had seen the light, so to speak, his imagination got the better of him, and he imagined his demise at the hands of the snake. When you shine a light on the memories and call them what they are, you can make unconscious emotions conscious and reframe false evidence.
As long as you frame life against an expectation of security, you will never feel safe. When you prepare your life and memories against a backdrop of freedom and personal responsibility, you will be at peace. To live is to risk. To love is to attempt. To risk is to surrender. To surrender is to find peace of mind.
So let change the frame to a new acronym for F.E.A.R = “Feeling excited and ready.”
Fear extinction involves creating a conditioned response that counters the conditioned unhealthy fear response.
Here are some simple, practical ways to create a healthy response.
1. Play mind games with yourself. If you’re afraid of speaking in front of groups, it’s because you think the audience will judge you. Try imagining the audience members naked — being the only clothed person in the room puts you in the position of judgment.
2. Learn about the thing you fear. Uncertainty is a huge component of fear: Developing an understanding of what you’re afraid of goes a long way toward erasing that fear.
3. Train. If there’s something you’re afraid to try because it seems scary or difficult, start small and work in steps. Slowly building familiarity with a frightening subject makes it more manageable.
It is my sincere hope that this short article will allow you to view F.E.A.R. in a different light without confusing you with more scientific data, findings, and mind jargon.
So while it is simple to understand, it is your choice to conquer unhealthy fears and make your life more productive.
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To your success
Your Coach Lionel Sanabria