The moment we realize we feel some measure of fear, we tend to do what we’ve been practicing for most of our life, what comes easy for us.
So, what comes naturally for you? Do you Overcome Fear NOW or LATER? This article was designed to help you make positive strides against fear and give you the freedom to address your fears to your advantage.
Let’s face it, in a time of a lingering global pandemic there can be heightened concern for :
- Job Security
- Uncertainty about other changes that can upend our ‘known platforms of living’.
Generally, when Fear strikes, we run to 1 of 2 camps, either to:
1. Flight or Fight Response – acts as a gas pedal to quickly move us out of trouble.
2. Rest or Digest/Relaxation Response – acts as brakes to slow us down.
The camp we run to most readily, on a consistent basis – our go to ‘haven’, will either harm or heal us. If you would like to TAKE CONTROL of your health, job security and other uncertainties, READ ON…
Our Inner Defense Mechanism – An Overview
Whenever anything stresses us, the brain communicates with the rest of the body through the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) to engage one of it’s subsystems to help us respond to the stress:
- Sympathetic Nervous System (Flight or Fight Response)
- Parasympathetic Nervous System (Relaxation Response)
The Autonomic Nervous System controls such involuntary body functions as breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and the dilation or constriction of key blood vessels and small airways in the lungs called bronchioles. (Harvard Health).
The Sympathetic Nervous System when engaged causes a chemical reaction that affects our physical body and emotions that is controlled by the Autonomic Nervous System. For example, breathing gets heavier, faster, the heart races, lungs open wide, a rush of energy floods the body in preparation to run or stand and fight off the stressor. Emotionally, we feel the FEAR as high energy coursing through our veins.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System kicks in when it is detected that the danger has been escaped or averted through the change in chemical levels in the body. It starts to relax the body’s function to aid its return to normal.
Generally both the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic work hand in hand. However, when there is a constant overload of Flight or Fight responses, the efficacy of the Relaxation Response is not as it should be. Therein lies the challenge!
It should come as no surprise, that it is therefore important for you to be aware of YOUR Stressors. Knowing what causes you to become afraid or to feel any other negative emotion is very important – preparation is 50% of finding a resolution!
The Stimulating Essence of Stress
To this day, the scientific community cannot agree on a single definition for stress. What makes that ‘okay’ is they strongly agree on the impact of continued stress on our system – Any prolonged dis-ease with stress of any kind, including Fear can create a disease!
The American Institute of Stress provides us with a definition below that allows us to better appreciate the essence of stress.
Stress Has An Upside – Who Knew?
On the one hand, when we feel we have little control and we have a desire to find a resolve, it can motivate us to go beyond the fear to discover creative ways to regain our power. In such instances, we tend to perceive the stress as an opportunity to improve our life. We feel good about the opportunity and our every action targets the transformation of our situation to yield a more positive outcome – really good.
Stress Can Do You Harm!
On the other hand when that same stressor is kept in a loop. for example of fear – i.e., we continue to feel the lack of control for extended periods, our emotions enter a bleak zone and our self-esteem quickly follows our emotions. In such an instance, we tend to perceive the stress as a threat. A threat we feel helpless to resolve, will invite more paralysis and we tend to become somewhat blinded to the opportunities that exist to improve our situation.. With drained emotions, a continuance in this vain will negatively impact our physiology – not good.
A Look At The Inside of Fear
R. M. Fisher of the In Search of Fearlessness Institute put forward a technical paper in tandem with the University of Calgary, postulating a definition of Fear as a Spectrum Approach. Listed below are elements of that Spectrum:
- not “natural” or part of our inherent Nature but created through cultural conditioning [i.e., culturally constructed] –
- are man-made and destructive and toxic toward all ‘Life’ and are different than the “natural” death and decay process40 –
Fisher, R. M. (2012). Introduction to Defining ‘Fear’: A Spectrum Approach (Technical Paper No.1, 2nd ed.). Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute
Based on the spectrum definition approach of FEAR and the definition for Stress, it’s an easy match right?!. Stress is like a Parent and FEAR is one of its children.
Would you agree that reducing stress in your day-to-day life is very important? Sure it is! It’s certain to be on everyone’s check-list. For significant fears to protect self or family we tend to overcome such Fears NOW. Those moments are few and far between though.
For what we might term ‘smaller’ fears, we tend to defer it for LATER. Deferring is a good temporary solution. It gives us time to position ourselves to do our best. Have you found yourself leaving ‘smaller’ fears in a perpetual loop or throwing it to the back of you? Either way, it will soon infiltrate more of our space:
Here’s how a deferral might sound:
- “I’ll finish that online course later”
- “I’ll start my own business when the time is right”
- “I don’t think I’m ready yet, maybe later…3 years later:-)”
- “I’ll talk to him another time, I’m afraid of how re reacts and I don’t want to deal with that stress now…for the 50th time:-)”
- “I’ll look for a job that I enjoy next year …for the 8th year:-)”
All of us have chosen to overcome fear Later at one or more points in our life, because there are times when we really need a minute to offer our best. An example might be, to have a non-threatening critical conversation with a loved one or friend.
Deferral is not the problem, endless deferring is.
Here’s how repeated deferring might show up:
- Heightened sensitivity to all changes (small, medium and large)
- Wishing for the good old days (which reduces and insults your current existence)
- More and pronounced panic attack over time
- Increased view as a ‘victim’
- Struggling to find your ‘voice’
Overcoming FEAR NOW
Our decision to engage a FEAR we feel in the moment fuels our Flight or Fight Response and we are able to act with haste (the quality of action is not in question here). Our ANS was designed for speed. As pointed out earlier though, with the increase of proverbial ‘tigers’ in our daily life we could spend a good portion of our day in Flight or Fight Response mode. That said, whenever the Relaxation Response mode is kicking in to help us ease on the speed and all that goes with it, we encounter another ‘tiger’ and we mash the gas pedal of Flight or Fight Response again. If you live with medium to high stress everyday, you see where this is going, right?!
Overcoming Fear LATER
When we choose to overcome Fear Later, we are making a deliberate attempt to temporarily tamper the Flight or Fight Response in favour of the Relaxation Response. Slowing things down helps us to understand it, to look at it more closely before we act.
Deferring to overcome Fear later is not intended to throw the situation behind you without acting on it. Too much of that and It will take on the nature of weeds and overrun you from behind, seeping into unsuspecting areas in your life. And you certainly don’t want that, right?
How To MASTER The Autonomic Nervous System
Dr. Benson at the Benson Henry Institute is renowned for his research into the efficacy of Mind Body Medicine as it relates to counteracting the harmful effects of stress on the body and mind. Dr. Benson’s research is sought after on national and international levels as it has been proven to extend from the laboratory to the clinic.
Like so many are discovering, if you want to control your overall response to a constantly changing world around you, you have to master your overall response to a Stress, FEAR included.
In the video below, Dr. Benson walks you through how to elicit the Relaxation Response using words that inspire. In the video, he will provide examples of words you can use. For my Top 10 Words of Inspiration, check here.
Enjoy this brief 5 minute meditation example by Dr. Henry Benson:
Tips to Support YOU in Overcoming FEAR NOW and LATER
- Start a daily meditation practice – work with what suits you best, you can build from there over time. Always better to do 1 minute each day than 1 5 minute session each week.
- Become aware of your choices to improve your body’s resilience – check out my simple 2 category of foods here.
- Begin to understand one ‘small’ fear tucked away in your deferral box over 1 – 2 weeks. Overcome it, celebrate and move on.
HOW I OVERCAME
I was looking for an opportunity to diversify my income. I always thought about an online business, but was afraid to venture further after a couple run-ins with scams.
Practicing meditating with inspiring words just as Dr. Benson shares helped me. I overcame that FEAR and quickly discovered a business community that offers encouragement, training and a free website to help me practice and understand how to build an online business successfully.
Yes, the more we increase our Relaxation Response, the more clarity we receive to see opportunities around us. I don’t know if this is for you but since I pretty much shared everything else, I thought it would be good for you to see the reality in my own story.