We are only born with two instinctive fears: loud noises and falling. Every other fear is learned externally; by witnessing someone else’s fear or from our own life experiences.
That said, I’m not sure a day goes by when fear does not enter my thinking in some form or other, and it’s not usually a loud noise or a potential fall. Equally, I’m not sure a day goes by when someone doesn’t tell me on social media that I need to let go of my fears, or that fear isn’t real, or that fear is holding me back etc, etc.
The thing is, we are programmed to feel and react to fear. It’s called the Flight, Fight or Freeze response; it’s part of our survival DNA. Whilst I appreciate that I’m not likely to be eaten by a sabre tooth tiger from my home in the UK, there are other consequences and outcomes of my actions or inaction.
When faced with these many outcomes, fear is my body’s instinctive way of ensuring my survival. My first response should be, “Thank you. Thank you for being that inbuilt survival response that keeps me safe.”
I could go into my belief system now and give you my thoughts on
… Well, thought.
… Or source energy and where we come from.
… Or the nature of freedom.
But that’s probably for a real discussion over a cuppa if you decide you’d like to get to know me better!
Instead what I thought I might do is share with you two practical coping strategies that work well for me.
The first is simple to say but the practice probably takes a lifetime to experience, do let me know how you get on with it!
Simply let your thoughts pass. They are just that: Thought. They have no substance until you give them form.
Unless faced with that Sabre Tooth Tiger, and the thought of “RUN!”, you probably don’t need to take action! So be still, and let it pass
The second is a bit more practical, I use it when I’ve engaged with the thoughts as opposed to letting them pass. Have you noticed when you engage that they get bigger and bigger, taking on the mantle of a tiger?!.
When I feel anxiety rising or witness my thoughts escalating I say to myself:
“So! What’s the worst that can happen?”
But it doesn’t end there, I then ask myself again:
“Ok so if that happens, the answer to your original question, what is the worst that can happen?”
And it doesn’t end there! I ask that question, again and again, going deeper and deeper into “What’s the worst that can happen?” with every answer I give myself.
Eventually, I get down to an answer that has no “What’s the worst that can happen” because I’m looking at the worst that can happen. And usually, it’s not that difficult to deal with. The consequences are neither life-threatening nor too big to handle, and that calms me.
From that place of calm, we can all access our inner self and take action from a different place. A place of calm without fear. A place of wisdom, so I don’t make a knee jerk response. Or perhaps I choose inaction, a powerful choice I often miss when I’m in the grips of a fear response.
There are loads of acronyms around FEAR, here are a few of my favourites:
False | Evidence | Appearing | Real – or “It’s just a thought.”
Forget | Everything | And | Run – or “Sabre Tooth Tiger, AAAHHHHH!”
Face | Everything | And | Rise – or “What’s the worst that can happen?”
Just one final thing to add. Our fears are not always fear of the negative, sometimes we are afraid of the positive too. Have you noticed that?
If I witness that happening, I ask myself “What’s the best that could happen” and so on. Eventually, you’ll find a place of calm in potential positive too, and that’s a pleasant light to bathe in.
Next time you feel fear start to rise, why not try one of these strategies. If you choose the second, it might help you to use a journal; there is a unique energy in writing that brings additional clarity. Whatever you choose to do, I’d love to know how you get on.
We are beautifully complex creatures, designed to explore and experience life (and business). Making any one of those elements inherently bad or unnecessary limits our experience and dampens our bodies natural rhythm. So, embrace your Fight Flight and Freeze mechanism and explore how you can use it to enhance your experience.
Download my ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ Thought Chart.