Fear is not something any of us want to talk about much – but it can stop us from doing the things that matter most to us. What is your relationship with fear? What if you could flip it on its head and use your fear as a valuable emotional guidepost? What if you could use it as a tool to show you what is most important to you in your life?
In this week’s episode of Your Freedom Unlimited, I want to share with you how to flip the switch on fear. Why is that? Because I believe anything any of us really want is on the other side of our fear. Whether it’s a new business, job, new relationship or losing weight … whatever we’re afraid of, whatever is bringing up the most fear for us is actually the thing we are most keen to achieve. But somehow, the fear stands in our way from achieving our highest goals and dreams.
So why am I talking about this? Because I’ve experienced high functioning anxiety and I know the effects of it on my life. So you could say I’ve got a fairly good relationship with fear. Over the last 10 years I’ve gone from not looking at it all, to looking at it very closely as made the changes I needed to make to turn my relationship with fear and anxiety around.
Also as a mental health advocate I believe the more we talk about these things the easier it becomes for everyone. As I talk to others I hear how anxiety and fear has affected them. I also know it becomes much easier for others to talk about their experiences when we start talking about it!
It’s the 50th Episode of Your Freedom Unlimited
The other reason I wanted to talk about dealing with fear today is because this is the 50th episode of Your Freedom Unlimited!! It’s time for a celebration.
We have made a major milestone today celebrating the 50th episode of this podcast after launching it on my birthday in 2020.
This podcast is all about helping you find the freedom and peace within yourself to do what matters most. It is about fully stepping into your power, your self-worth and your voice.
And this podcast represents exactly that. me really dealing with my fears and finding my voice to bring this podcast to you. You see I had thought about doing this podcast for many many years BUT I had been stuck by my fear. So I felt this was the perfect episode to unpack what fear is all about and what we can do to move beyond it – because as I said earlier everything we do want is on the other side of our fear.
My view is that we can change our relationship with fear. When we learn to deal with our fear successfully we can really change our lives. In fact I believe those who are most successful are those that have learnt to deal with their fears.
So this episode is part one of a two part series on fear. This week we’re going to be talking about what fear is and I’m going to give you 6 good reasons – many of them backed by science – to change your relationship with fear and next week I’ll share how you can change your relationship with fear.
Firstly let’s look at what fear is!
So What Is Fear?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, fear is “the bad feeling that you have when you are in danger, when something bad might happen, or when a particular thing frightens you”
Yes it’s a bad feeling alright and for some of us it can be paralysing!
Six Reasons To Change Your Relationship with Fear
Today I want to share with you six reasons to change your relationship with fear or dealing with imposter syndrome or self doubt.
Before I do this I also want to acknowledge all people who are listening who may be experiencing anxiety. I’m not wanting to discount your experience. What I’m wanting to share with you are some alternative ways of thinking about fear, and what has worked for me as someone who has experienced quite high functioning anxiety. I also want to be very clear that you should continue to work with your medical professional and continue with whatever medication you are taking. Today I just want to share with you another perspective that may assist you.
1. Fear is Designed to Keep Us Safe
We just need to realise that fear is not the dark ogre in the corner we cannot look at. We need to realise fear is an emotion that’s designed to keep us safe. It’s been programmed into our brains from our very primal beginnings. When we were on the savannah, we needed to be careful that the sabre-toothed tiger, or the woolly mammoth, wasn’t going to come and eat us, or our family. So it’s fairly logical that we would experience fear in our lives as it is so programmed into our brain.
Even today the oldest part of our brain, the amygdala and hypothalamus will activate when we are in a fearful situation. Missing a deadline or meeting a new person to collaborate on a project may not be the same as the tiger but our brain interprets it as the same.
When we look at the neuroscience of the brain and how the brain operates it clearly has a negativity bias. There are two aspects I want to cover here.
Firstly our brain does something called Value Tagging. In Value Tagging the brain gives every piece of information logical and emotional tags. We’re more likely to assign more value to things we care about or value. And research shows strong emotional experiences can skew our value-tagging to keep us safe
This value tagging system, along with something called Selective Attention, means that we are continually noting things that could endanger us. So this is a very in-built system that is still alive and well today and designed to keep us safe.
If you want to know more about Selective Attention visit YouTube to look at Daniel Simmons Monkey Business Illusion video. Click here to watch it.
2. Our Brain Wants Us To Stay In Our Comfort Zone … it’s easier
Another key thing from the perspective of neuroscience is that our brain is designed to help us use as little energy in our body as possible. Why is this relevant in a discussion about fear?
So what this means is is that we are more likely to stay inside our comfort zone because it reduces the energy we would expend compared to doing something outside our comfort zone.
When we want to step out of our comfort zone – whether it is to create a new project, start a new business, start a new relationship, get fit or start a new job – this is something that is energetically pushing us out of our comfort zone and demanding a lot more energy than we would use if we were just going about our normal pattern of life.
So if you’re sometimes wondering why you’re not wanting to change your habits, even though you’ve got a clear intention to do it is because your body is wanting to conserve energy.
3. We Can Retrain Our Response to Fear
In James Nestor’s book Breath he shares the work of Dr Justin Feinsten on carbon dioxide therapy for patients with panic and anxiety disorders. He explains the actual value of carbon dioxide to the body and how carbon dioxide therapy can actually help us retrain our receptors in our brain to reduce the impacts of anxiety and depression.
This therapy involves giving the subject a dose of carbon dioxide which induces fear because the subject perceives they cannot breathe. By being exposed to the therapy it actually shows the subject how they can cope and, after a few sessions will rewire the brain’s chemoreceptors.
So, what we’re saying here is that fear is very much part of our physiology and it is something we can do something about.
4. Fear and Excitement Are Similar
There is very little physiological difference between fear and excitement. This means when we choose to change the story we tell ourselves about something we can have a completely different experience of it!
For example, if we think about an intruder in our house we’d be extremely fearful but if we were going to a haunted house in an amusement park we might see that as fun and exciting. So can you see how fear and excitement are just different sides of the same coin. They use the same neural pathways so we just need to choose how to interpret what is going on around us.
Another good example of this is public speaking. Approximately 78% of the population do not like public speaking, but other people really love it. They are having the same experience but a completely different interpretation of it. Those who love it will generally say they experience some form of nerves, but they take it in their stride and see the butterflies as a performance preparation.
5. Dealing With Our Fear is a Chance to Grow
Another thing I’ve found about dealing with my fear is that it’s been a great chance for me to grow and expand as a person. If you know me at all you know that I love that opportunity to expand and grow. If you’re listening to this podcast I think you do too.
So what I found is that when I turned around and started to really look at my fear and started to examine it for what it is it’s given me huge insights into who I am, my limiting beliefs about myself, what’s blocking me, and what I can do to change.
It’s been super powerful on my growth journey. If I had not turned around and faced my fear, if I stayed playing small and did not address my fears then I would not be where I am today. Managing my fear really has been one of my biggest strategies to play much bigger and have a much more fulfilling life.
6. The Thing We Most Want Is Often On the Other Side of our Fear
As I said earlier anything that any of us really want is on the other side of our fear. Those things that are most important to us – a new project, starting a business or a new job getting fit, a new relationship – are often the things that we want most but we can often struggle with achieving.
Even if we feel it’s what we really want, the fear can stand in our way from achieving our highest goals and dreams. So for me this is another very compelling reason to change my relationship with fear.
Over To You
As ever on this podcast it’s now over to you. I’d love you to take on board these reasons for changing your relationship with fear. Take another listen and let me know in the comments to the blog if any of these resonate with you!
Then join me on next week’s episode where we’ll talk about the practical things you can do to really start overcoming your fears. I’ll share with you my experiences and what it was like for me to overcome my fears about starting this podcast. This has been such a valuable experience for me in not playing small and getting out of my comfort zones and expanding my horizons.
Until we speak again take great care lots of love Jen xoxo