Fear can be perceived as a form of protection from danger – the fight, flight or freeze modes are useful if/when you are in physical danger. Primal fear is one of the most basic human instincts and it is used to help indicate any real danger or threat and we act on this instinct if/when necessary. This form of fear is the foundation our brains have been conditioned to maintain for thousands of years.
This basic fear is not supposed to linger around for long, as it should end as soon as you feel safe from whatever you deemed to be dangerous. Primal fear is also a conditioning behaviour in animals as they use fight or flight mode against a threat of another animal or human. However as soon as the threatened animal is safe from any form of harm, they go back to their original state of calm and peace and continue doing what they were previously doing before the threat showed up. This unfortunately is not what happens to humans. We have let fear rule our every moment, every moment of our lives! And why? Because we have something called a conscious mind, which is something animals do not have.
The role of the conscious mind is to think, feel and analyse your environment, encounters and experiences. Therefore, often giving meaning to people, places and experiences that creates an unhealthy attachment if not properly processed. This is where the fear resides – in the attachment to past events that caused heartache, pain, depression and anxiety. So the question then becomes, how do we overcome fear?
Well let’s first look at the acronym of fear - there are many out there, but my personal favourite is: False, Experiences, Appearing, Real. We have this incredible ability to create false stories to validate the fear we feel within relative to past trauma/pain we’ve encountered. This is the most disempowering space to be in and in order to start overcoming fear, you can start with doing these simple and profound steps:
1. Acknowledge your fear and Thank it!
As I mentioned earlier, fear can be perceived as a form of protection from “danger” so the first step is to just notice your fear coming up. When you have become aware of your fear then you must thank it for “trying” to protect you. It doesn’t know any better than how it’s been conditioned and what the brain has been told to perceive based on past experiences. So acknowledge it and thank it.
2. Scale of 1-10 measurement
The good old “on a scale of 1 to 10 and 10 being absolute danger” – measure your fear based on this scale. This allows for your logical mind to kick in and thus take control of your mindset. The more times you practice using your logical mind to decipher whether you’re in real danger or not, the more you train your brain to come from a place of logic instead of fear.
The use of your breath to control fear is extremely underrated! Focus on your breath by making yourself aware to consciously inhale and exhale as many times as you need to bring yourself to the present moment of the here and now. Anxiety and consciously breathing cannot coexist in the moment of here and now. Therefore, the key to overcoming fear is absolute PRESENCE!
All three of the above steps work profoundly together as well as siloed, depending on the severity of the fear you are experiencing. And remember with each step it must be practiced often/daily in order to retrain thousands of years of conditioning! Our brains believe what we tell it repeatedly, so start telling it empowering stories that will help you to overcome your fears!