One great way to overcome fear is to push through it
We've all felt fear and it surrounds us daily, from news about the pandemic to worries about kids and careers. One way to overcome fear is to meet it head on.
One thing I've learned from having more than a nodding relationship with fear is that one great way to overcome fear is to push through it.
We've all felt fear, from the time we were tiny and lost sight of our mother in the supermarket to looking at our own kids and knowing now we really do have something to lose.
It's been the theme of countless books and movies, from Stephen King's vampires and killer clowns to boys about to go over the top in Gallipoli, psychological thrillers and one of my favourites, The Usual Suspects.
Remember what Verbal Kint, aka Keyser Söze, said? "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
I seen a stack of people post about fear, that fear is not real or acronyms that dispel fear as a myth or a thing that is made up in our mind. False Evidence Appearing Real. Feel the fear and so on.
Thing is, fear is real. It is as real as anything in this life. When it affects us and shapes our lives it is undeniable.
Back to movies for a minute. Neo in The Matrix said, “So if you die in the Matrix you die in the real world?” and Morpheus replied, “Yes, your mind makes it real.”
Fear can be debilitating, crushing and crippling. It can cause people to act in a way that completely goes against their beliefs and core values.
People do crazy things when affected by fear. Think about how Hilter used fear to convince 50 million soldiers to follow his unimaginable acts and take on the rest of the world.
The most infamous dictators used fear to control the people in their country. The media has used perceived fear to sway elections in favour of certain leaders. In nature, animals and birds that have no real powers use elaborate dances and colours to scare off other animals that threaten them.
Fear is control.
Fear for good measure has its place in our life, but the constant bombardment from all the external influences in our lives can be debilitating and have lasting effects on our mindset, health and wellbeing.
Our heightened fear response is due to external influences for which there is very little escape. Politicians, newsreaders and social media all use persuasive and powerful language designed to stimulate a certain response in us.
This relentless drama can leave us on edge and distract us from what matters in our lives. All of this reducing our ability to deal with the fear of chasing our dreams or creating the life we want.
Constant exposure to fear produces cortisol which prepares us for battle but stops our food digesting, our fingernails and hair growing. This is a good thing if you are going into battle, not so much on a daily basis.
Fear responses are a part of the Limbic Brain. It is the part of the brain that triggers the flight or fight or freeze response.
As Dr Earl Grey wrote in 2010's Unify Your Mind: Connecting the Feelers, Thinkers, and Doers of Your Brain, the amygdala is a filter. The amygdala scans for any threat or danger. This part of the brain does not register concepts of time, nor does it apply logic.
We have to limit our exposure to outside influences by protecting what goes into our mind, the same way we don’t put poison in our body, don’t put it in your mind.
When things in my life were not going well I realised I was reacting to everything that was going on around me, I got caught up in the drama and the distractions. It was all-consuming.
The more awareness I had the more I found how the noise was moving me further away from my ideal life.
“An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.”
— Robin S. Sharma
The news cycle keeps rolling, the world is changing fast and times are unprecedented, there will always be heightened fear, know that it’s real and it is everywhere.
Here's how to not let it dominate you:
Go on a mental diet.
Be careful what you allow into your mind.
Take time to think logically through things without reacting.
Stay focused on your dreams.
And just in case you want to know the rest of the The Usual Suspects' quote is, it's definitely food for thought. What do you make of it?
“Nobody ever believed he was real. Nobody ever knew him or saw anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Söze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”