I am often asked how to overcome fear. Fear is probably the strongest, most intense of all behavioral triggers. We conjure up fears and react to them. Fears govern behavior in relationships, in career choices, in trading and investment, and in the way people express their views and feelings.
There are four responses to fear:
1. Flight – fear reflex to run away
2. Fight – defense mechanism
3. Fright (Freeze) – fear reflex to stay frozen
4. Frame – Manage the fear reflex in context and make a calculated appraisal of options.
The first three have served humans since the beginning of time. They are wired into the reptilian brain and instinct. All creatures large and small have intrinsic knowledge to run away when faced by a stronger slower opponent. If immediate danger is posed, some of us will fight our way to safety. In other situations, both humans and animals are known to freeze either as a defense mechanism so as not to be seen, or out of inability to mobilize to the next action. These reactions can be very useful in situations of physical danger. However, many of the fears we face as urban dwellers are quite different, where ancient hard-wired reptilian responses are not suitable or helpful.
The fourth response of framing your options and evaluating these inside a larger context involves later evolution of brain function and a different stratum of consciousness. Engaging higher brain function and levels of consciousness is at the center of personal growth and development. You started to practice overriding reactive circuitries at the age of four or five. Managing fear more effectively by framing options, evaluating pros and cons and making choices can be learned and practiced.
This fourth response is based in recognizing that you have a fundamental choice; that you can choose between:
1. Using fears to make you succeed
2. Allowing fears to hold you back
Here are 21 fears that govern people’s behavior, participation and response:
1. Fear of losing a position
2. Fear of losing social standing
3. Fear of losing income
4. Fear of losing another person’s positive view of you
5. Fear of losing your own positive self image
6. Fear of losing love
7. Fear of losing security
8. Fear of failure
9. Fear of criticism
10. Fear of rejection
11. Fear of humiliation
12. Fear of embarrassment
13. Fear of being left out
14. Fear of change and it’s consequences
15. Fear of being wrong
16. Fear of being caught out
17. Fear of being alone
18. Fear of pain
19. Fear of finding emptiness inside
20. Fear of death
21. Fear of fear
Then there are also:
22. Fear of taking full responsibility and having no excuses
23. Fear of success
24. Fear of realizing your true power
What can you do in the face of fear to bypass the flight/ fight/ fright reflex and frame a different response?
1. Ask: “what is the worst thing that can happen?” By framing it clearly in written or spoken words that are outside of you, it is no longer invisible or unspoken. The unspoken and the invisible often have a greater gripping power than the things that are seen and said.
2. Frame the fear in context; ask:
A. What is the best case scenario?
B. What are the probabilities of the worst and the best case?
C. What are likely scenarios in the middle?
D. What options do you have?
E. What are the possible risks and rewards in each option?
3. Find the greater fear that can keep you succeeding:
A. Fear of not realizing your potential
B. Fear of not living fully
C. Fear of forgetting what matters most
D. Fear of getting separated from your calling and purpose
E. Fear of not rising to your opportunities.
4. Make a wise decision. Take action.
© Aviv Shahar