This week is all about Fear! Capital F Fear. We’ll be talking about what we’re afraid of, how that impacts us, and how fear can be so sneaky that sometimes we don’t even notice it. We’ll also talk about how to be compassionate to yourself when you realize you’ve been trapped by fear. But in order to talk so much about fear, I wanted to start by talking about where fear comes from.
So basically, the long story short is that we used to have good reasons to be afraid. Fires, sabre tooth tigers, and all sorts of other things were able to kill us pretty easily. That feeling of “fear” is just a chemical response in our body. It works to make our brain more alert and ready to make quick decisions. It makes us able to breathe faster. It brings more blood into our muscles so we can run faster. Fear is basically perfect for helping us make a quick getaway.
Unfortunately, we still feel fear all the time at dumb things that have no chance of killing us. A great example of this is people who were afraid to go swimming in swimming pools after Jaws came out – there is literally no way a giant shark could me lurking in a pool, but. People were still afraid to swim.
Fear sits in our brain in a place that is all primal. The logical part of brain is able to keep it in check somewhat, but sometimes we can experience that fear for no good reason at all.
And to complicate the matter even worse, the main chemicals in our brain that contribute to those fear based body changes are the same ones that get released when we’re happy or excited.
And that can be a problem.
Oftentimes, when we’re thinking about taking a new and exciting risk in our lives, whether personally or professionally, we get those same nervous/excited feelings. But if we’re not careful, since those feelings come from the same chemicals that we equate with fear, we can interpret all of that to mean maybe it’s too risky and we shouldn’t do it. Instead of realizing those are excited feelings! Excited and nervous are good!
Take those risks!