Fear is such a harsh word in my opinion. I don’t like anything that brings out fear in me personally. I don’t like scary movies, or haunted houses, or being in situations that make me feel uncomfortable. I understand that there are many people who love the scary but remember that all people have some kind of fear. We are all afraid of something, whether we like to admit it or not. Today we’re going to dive a little deeper into what fear does to you.
Are there things in your life that cause your heart to beat faster, cause your palms to sweat, or cause your voice to skip? How about things that make you want to rush off into some kind of battle? These are very common feelings for so many things from having a difficult conversation with someone to having to make a life or death decision.
When we are presented with something that sparks a bit of fear we will do one of three things. We will stay and fight, we will turn and run, or we will freeze.
Is It Always Life or Death?
Imagine you’re walking on a trail in the mountains and close to you behind some bushes you hear some rustling and then all of a sudden a bear comes out of the woods. Is this a life or death situation? What do you do?
- Do you stand your ground and try to fight the bear off?
- Do you turn around and run away as fast as you can?
- Do you stand there, frozen in time, unable to do or say anything?
Now, imagine you’re at work and your boss wants you to do a presentation to the team on the project you were supposed to work on. You haven’t done much with the project and you feel completely unprepared to do this presentation. Is this a life or death situation? What do you do?
- Do you tell your boss you’re not prepared and need a little more time?
- Do you make up some excuse that you’re sick and can’t do it today?
- Do you mumble some unpronounceable words under your breath as your boss walks away?
We may respond differently depending on the situation we’re faced with but generally speaking we have one primary response to fear. It’s either fight, flight, or freeze.
How Do You Respond To Fear?
Take some time to make a list of the things that bring about a feeling a fear inside you. This may take you a day or a week to come up with a starting list. Then, as you’re thinking of each one, think about how you would honestly respond in such a situation. This will help you determine your primary fear response.
This fear response is supposed to be there. It’s your brain’s way of keeping you alive. But you don’t have to let it dictate your life in situations that are not life or death.
Sure, the bear situation could potentially be life or death. But I seriously doubt not being prepared for a presentation at work is a life or death situation. Yet it brought on feelings of fear.
Understanding how you primarily respond to situations that bring about feelings of fear is the beginning step to learning what you can to manage those feelings.
What Can You Do
Now that you understand how you primarily respond to fearful situations it doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck in that pattern. You can manage it and even break free from the ties that bind you down. Here are some simple suggestions to try when you’re faced with your next fearful situation (that is not a life threatening situation):
- Yes, simply take in one deep breath in through your nose and breathe it out through your mouth.
- Take three seconds to respond.
- Taking time to respond will help your brain sort out the details of if this situation is going to cause you harm or not.
- Ask for a moment.
- This is especially important if your primary response is along the lines of fight. Ask to take a moment, or allow yourself to take a moment, walk away from the situation, take in a few deep breaths, and really think about your response. Just remember that you must return to the situation and respond, it can not be left on the table not addressed.
Although fear is a response we face each day, it is not a response that should hold us back from achieving our dreams. There are many people who don’t chase after their dreams because of fears. If fear has held you back, don’t let it continue to do so. Reach out and start getting some coaching that will launch you on your path to break yourself free from the fears you have.
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