Fear is a strong adversary for most people because it makes us confront our biggest demons. Some examples include: performance issues, bad relationships, fear of animals, drowning, death, or the unknown. Fear keeps us on our toes, our head on a swivel, and forces us to do things that are other wise uncomfortable. In contrast, it is a heavy burden. Our fears can have catastrophic consequences in our lives if we let it. It can play mind games, it can paint false imagines in our minds, it can be controlling, it can ruin the best of relationships, and it can drive you insane if you let it. Some people call it a mind-killer.
Fear is defined as: “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid”
The psychology dictionary goes on to say there is no real external reason to be fearful because everything is in anticipation of a future menace we may or may not face.
Fear is very real though because it occurs when the brain releases high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, activating the sympathetic nervous system, other wise known as the, “fight or flight” system in our body. Unfortunately, fear can lead to psychological trauma if not controlled. There is a lot more to this involving a multi step process with different parts of the brain, but it will not be covered in this post.
How can we overcome fears? Research has concluded there are four steps a person can take to confront fears.
- There must be some form of goal setting. This helps provide structure to chaos. From the fear of public speaking, to the fear of a fire fight, goal setting provides understanding for what is about to take place. What do you want to accomplish and why?
- Utilize visualization or what some people call a mental rehearsal. This makes those fears more realistic, so it is not the first time you have seen or dealt with the problem. Professional athletes use these techniques to perform better because they can actually see themselves performing to the highest level possible before game time.
- Be positive because it will help override the fear, and self talk provides focus. When your thoughts are positive, your mind is positive. The people around you feel that positivity, and they want to be apart of it. While fear has the potential to prevent you from accomplishing your dreams, positivity helps accomplish them. It provides a form of motivation.
- Slow down your breathing, especially during exhalation because this is when we have arousal control. Even when things are going to pieces all around you, take a step back, breathe, and get back into the fight. When you breathe heavily you create low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. In other words, you have too much oxygen. This creates problems such as dizziness, confusion, and less than optimal focus. All of these relate back to our ability to see things clearly.
In conclusion, think about the first time you tried something new, and you weren’t sure what to expect. The fear of the unknown in life or in combat can cause you to make poor decisions because it is the first time you have had to deal with the situation. The military has a saying, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast, fast is deadly.” In our rush to confront things due to fear and anxiety, we make poor decisions. Some of these can lead to hurting others, hurting ourselves by not taking the time to think about things, or running through a variety of possible scenarios to help us be better prepared if something should take place. Slow down, take your time, practice these control and overcoming fear techniques; it might just save you and those around you some unneeded pain.