Live An Extraordinary Life

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Fear But Were Afraid To Ask

Posted on: June 17, 2011

Photo courtesy of Jano Kray

Hi and Welcome back!

We have been talking about what it takes to create an extraordinary life and in my last blog I touched on fear and how it is an unlikely companion in this process.

Fear often gets a bad wrap. The truth is that fear is one of the most beneficial emotions we have. 

1.  It keeps us alive by triggering the limbic system of the brain and letting us know when we are in physical, emotional or spiritual danger

2. It tells us when we are on the verge of something great (because that is usually scarier than hell)

3. It helps us stay humble and compassionate by bringing us face to face with our own vulnerability

But often fear operates at an unconscious level and gets out of control and this is what prevents us from taking the action we need to fulfill our potential and create the extraordinary life that is available to us.

So, lets break it down a bit.  If you rewind any experience in your life to understand a particular outcome you will find that for most of us it generally goes like this:

We have beliefs and values that form how we think about the world which in turn drives our emotions, which result in our actions which then create our experience of life

When we are experiencing fear unconsciously, which neuroscientists tell us we do at an astonishing rate, most often we are experiencing False Evidence Appearing Real. We figure this out only when we take the time to examine  step by step what thought generated the fear, and what belief and value drove the thought.

This is when we realize that often we don’t even believe the belief that generated the thought that created the fear that stopped us in our tracks and left us feeling dissatisfied by our inability to take the action that would fulfill our dream. 

OK, so what do we do with all of this? Become conscious of it and be the master of your own domain! In the next week try this:

1. Get in touch with the physical feeling you get when you feel afraid, apprehensive, or anxious.  NAME the feeling and location of the feeling in your body. For example, your heart may race, your head may ache, your gut may tighten. Get very familiar with how it feels so you can recognize it quickly.

2. Notice what is going on that caused the fear. What is the situation, topic, person, language etc…

3. Ask yourself what thoughts you are having about that situation, topic, person, language.

4. Figure out what beliefs those thoughts are anchored in and ask if they are still valid for you. This is where you understand if fear is helping you do any of  the good stuff in #1-3 at the beginning of the blog, or if it is False Evidence Appearing Real or an unconscious, maybe even habitual response.

5. Consciously decide what action you will take. The moment you take control of yourself, meaning your thoughts and your actions, you will feel a reduction in fear.

Please remember these things:

  • The only one we can control is ourself and the only action we control is our own.
  • We will never be in control of our life if we don’t take control.
  • Last, the goal here is to increase responsiveness (conscious, mindful thought and action) and decrease reactivity (unconscious, triggered thoughts and actions).

1 Response to "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Fear But Were Afraid To Ask"

I like the straight forward approach to dealing with something that for most of us, is a challenge. Thank you Sheila! This will be helpful.

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