Mind Alchemy Day 20 – Overcoming Fear

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Mind Alchemy Day 20

overcoming fear

I'd like to start this module with a quote from a great lady in history called Eleanor Roosevelt, you've probably heard of her. The quote goes some something like:

"you gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face' you can say to yourself   I overcame this horror I can take the next thing that comes along."

What Eleanor Roosevelt is really saying there is; the more you look fear in the face, the more you face up to your fears, the easier it becomes in the future to face up to any challenges you have in life.

I think that is a great quote to kick us off with in Overcoming Fear. It will be quite a long post so grab a cup of coffee or a cup of tea and sit down and relax and hopefully you will gain a lot from this post.

Definition of fear

So we'll start off by giving a definition of fear.

Fear is a feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by your perception of something that may or may not happen in the future.

Did you notice two key phrases there "˜your perception' and "˜in the future'.

Your perception of fear is going to be totally different from my perception of fear, for example if you're frightened of dogs and you are walking up the street one day you see a dog lunging towards you ,you are going to be fearful because you are naturally afraid of dogs and you are going to perceive that as a fearful situation.

Whereas me, who absolutely loves dogs, and I see a dog running towards me I see it as it being playful and so I'm going to clap, and pet the dog and talk to it.

Two totally different perceptions on exactly the same event.

Another example might be that you don't like, or you are afraid, of going to social gatherings, you don't like social gatherings you don't like the whole talking to strangers, having to make small talk, shaking hands. You just don't like the whole scene at all but you realise that as part of your job, or your business, you have to socialise, so overcoming that fear would be a great thing.

So, your perception of that is a fearful event, it's something to be fearful of, and what happens usually is your fear of this event, and leading up to it you've, and you try and think of ways to get out.   You think of all the bad things that can happen with this event; you might make a complete idiot of yourself, you might embarrass yourself somehow, you might stutter when you're speaking to people, you might have sweaty palms, you might have lots of different things that could arise in this event and you blow this out of all proportion in your mind.

So as it comes along and gets closer and closer you become more and more nervous, and you are desperately looking for excuses to get out of it, and somewhere in the back of your mind you know you really have to go for some reason or another.

When you get there you actually enjoy yourself, it's when you come back you say to your partner, or if your wife or husbands been there, you say it was actually a good night you actually enjoyed yourself, and you don't know why you worried,  you do this time and time again.

So what's actually happening there is the thought of the event is more fearful than the actual event itself, if that make sense.

It's all about your thoughts and your perceptions of the event. For something like a social gathering for me that might be a wonderful opportunity to network with people, to get some more business contacts, to help people if I can, or for them to help me in my business as well, and it might be a way to gather lots of new faces in my team or I could join somebody else's team in a social way, if you see what I mean. So my perception might be totally different from your perception, because as we have discussed in previous days your reality is not my reality.

Fear may become part of your identity

What tends to happen, in life, is that we make our fears a part of our identity?

How many times have you spoken to somebody, and said you're going on holiday this year and you say you're flying abroad, and the person you're speaking to says I'm afraid of flying, I can't go to such and such because I'm afraid of flying, and they make that part of their identity.

When you make a fear a part of your identity it's difficult to let go of that fear, because you have made it a part of you.   Now people who know you say "˜oh Bob can't go on holiday because he's afraid of flying', Bob can't go there because he's afraid of flying, can't go to Canada, or American, Australia, can't go to the UK because he's afraid of flying. Everybody knows its part of your identity and to a certain degree, and unconsciously, you have to keep that identity up because you have created it, you've made it, and it's difficult to let go of that part of your identity. So fear can become part of your identity if you let it, so it's time to let go of some of your fears and drop them from your identity and this is what we are going to be looking at today.

How to drop fear from becoming a part of your identity

Now another question I'd like to ask you, which is, again, a potential insight into what fear is and it could change the way you view fear.     The question is

"˜Where does fear reside'?

Now we're not talking about where it stays, we're talking about where it is on a timeline, the past the present or the future?

If  you are 30 or 40 years old you've got a present and a past of about 40 years, and if you're thinking about the future maybe you're thinking about 40 years in advance so you have an 80 year time span 40 present and past, 40 year present and future so does the fear exists in the past?, think about that for a second.

If you've thought about it fear doesn't exist in the past because you can't fear something that's already happened, it's already happened.

What you might fear is the consequences of certain actions from your past, but you cannot fear the event itself because it's already happened so it's done and dusted, out the way, can't happen again.

Does fear exist in the present? No, because if you think about it again, if you are experiencing fear in the present it really means that that fear is not happening to you at that particular moment in time.

That might be hard to grasp initially, but if you think about it, just say for example at this present moment you're being mauled by a lion you are not fearful in that particular situation what you are trying to do is, you're trying to look for ways out, your adrenaline is going, your muscles are pumped, your bloods getting pumped round your body really quick, your pupils are dilated and your trying to take in as much as possible and you're looking for ways to get out this situation. You aren't fearful in that situation what you are is you are pumped up and you are looking for ways to get out – You are in the moment.

So does fear exist in your future? Yes, that's exactly where it resides.   You build your future in your mind before you can make it real, exactly what you do with fear. If you think about all your fears and all your worries, you don't fear the past, you don't fear the present, and you fear something that may or may not happen in the future. So the more you think about something the more it's on your mind, the more it's on your mind the more you are going to see different things happening that confirms that fear within your mind.

So for example if you think the world is a really bad place, its full of guns and violence, just really bad people in it, now if you think that that is your reality, your reality is going to find things to support that theory. So for example if you the watch news all the time, that's going to support your theory that the world is a bad place. If you watch and listen to the news on the radio, if you listen to people speaking about certain events or if you hear about this murder or that… ,did you hear about the violence or this or that happened to this poor woman again that reconfirms your reality.

So your reality is being built up over time because you've stated something in your mind "˜the world is a bad place' and your mind automatically goes to look for evidence to support that theory.

This is what happens with everything, this is what happens with all your fears, your mind looks for ways to support the theory to confirm your fears.

Fear is not necessarily a bad thing, what is a bad thing is; if you are fearful all the time. If you are fearful of lots of different events that might happen in the future, if you are fearful of flying, of strangers, of speaking publicly, fearful of this or that and we all know people who are fearful of everything and put everything down as well because they are frightened of the future, what might happen or what possibly could happen.

If you think about it these people that say "˜oh I'm afraid of flying, or you shouldn't do that because you might die in a plane crash', now with that kind of flawed logic that, people like that wouldn't get up in the morning or get out of bed, or in fact they wouldn't even go to bed at night because they heard about somebody dying in their sleep because the sheets covered their face and they suffocated and they died in their   sleep, so why would you go to bed if that's what could happen.

The same thing with if you are going outside the door and had to cross the road, why would you cross the road because you heard that lots of people get killed by crossing roads and car accidents. Why would you drive a car, because there are hundreds and thousands of people who have been killed in car accidents so that kind of logic is not good for you if you are hanging onto that fear.

So if you think about it logically fear is not a good thing in your life, you know that, but you've got to take a step back and look at it from a logical perspective as well.

Fear can help us

As I said fear is not a bad thing, we need some kind of fear in our lives, because what fear does it kick starts responses in our bodies. When we are frightened of something or something happens, say for example going across the road and we see a bus coming towards us. We have to jump out of the way of the bus. There are certain things that happen in our bodies that kick starts that jumping out the way; it allows us to do it quicker.

The first thing that happens is our eyes, the pupils dilate, to take in as much light as possible, the blood pumps to all the major muscles in your muscle groups in your body; your arms, your legs. The blood stops pumping to the stomach because the stomach isn't really needed in this particular time, so it stops pumping blood to the stomach and starts pumping more blood to the muscles in your arms and legs so you can jump out of the way. The none essential items like your immune system and your digestive system shut down totally because they are not needed at that particular moment in time. Your body knows this and does it automatically and it's called the autonomic nervous system. Straight away it allows you for all these hormones to be produced, over 30 to produce, adrenaline etc all pumps throughout your body within the space of millisecond and it allows you to jump out of the way of this bus and allows you to save yourself.

So fear, as I said, is not necessarily a bad thing but in today's day and age we really don't need fear as much as we did back in cave man/woman days.

So it's time to reverse this, it's time to take a step back and look at fear for what it is. Understand it, and just say "˜yes it's useful in some situations' but then try and control it in most situations. I would say 10% of fear is needed the other 90% you don't really need fear in our life's at all, in fact it's actually holding us back in life.

So if you are fearful of a lot of things, its holding you back big time in your life and you need to drop it as soon as possible.

Where does fear come from?

So where does fear come from? Well we are taught fear when we are younger, we are taught fear from a very early age and some psychologists, neuro psychologists and neuro-scientists think it comes from a part of the brain called the Reptilian brain.

So when we cross the road we are taught to be fearful of the road. "˜Don't cross or you might get knocked down' or because there might be cars coming or you have to look both ways or you could get killed and you are taught to fear roads which is kind of a good thing as well, but that grows up with you, and when you are growing up or when you are grown up and you are taught to fear roads.

Another thing, like don't talk to strangers.   We are taught as young children, but that fear grows up with us. Yes its good, and we have to tell our kids not to talk to strangers but we have to do it in a balanced way we have to tell them why they shouldn't be talking to strangers so they are not frightened of every single stranger they meet because a lot of the time that fear continues into adulthood and that fear still continues just now with a lot of adults because they are frightened to talk to strangers and they don't like being in strangers companies, and that really stems from their childhood. That's where fear comes from, so really it comes from when we were younger and we've been taught it and from the reptilian part of our brain. It's useful to know how we develop fears in our lives, so now what we will do is we will go on to look at how we get rid of our fears and give some strategies for looking at our fear and how to banish our fears.

Fear is a choice

This might sound a bit controversial, but any type of fear is a choice we have.   Yes we may have a physical reaction to snakes, if we are afraid of them, but there is a choice to stay afraid of them.   If we faced up to our fear on numerous occasions we would realise there is not much to be frightened of with most of our fears, so when you say you are afraid of something you are really saying I have not faced up to my fears yet.

Today's exercise

Today I want to give you one exercise to help you overcome fear, not necessarily phobias and the like but fear of future events or situations.

Download todays exercise sheet to get you started in becoming unconsciously grateful.


Tomorrow we will having another catch up day, to give us some time to catch up or chill out 🙂  Until tomorrow my fellow Mind Alchemists"¦"¦..

Action follows a thought"¦

This course is about taking action, and to become pro active in changing your life.   Take time to do this exercise and really think about it throughout the day.   You don't need to wait until tomorrow to take steps to improve your "˜Wheel of Life', but with the support and encouragement from all the members we can help each other and support each other, but ultimately "˜you have to bring something to the table!'

Your thoughts

As always it's good to talk about your experiences and share it with the rest of the members of the course, so let us know how this exercise went for you and if you gained any insights or had any revelations about yourself or your life.

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.