WHERE DOES FEAR COME FROM AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME IT?
Fear is a primal instinct. Early on, humans developed fear to protect ourselves from the unknown. Fear was necessary for survival. We feared things that may put us at harm leading to flight or fight type responses.
Today fear is more diverse. It is said that on average people fear public speaking more than they do death. Doesn’t this seem a little ridiculous? We fear standing in front of people for 3-4 minutes more than we do losing our lives.
Where does this fear come from and how do we overcome it?
There are 3 categories of Fear:
- Primal – fight or flight type fear for survival. From this instinct comes fears such as falling, loud noises, etc. Any exterior stimulus that may cause harm or injury to us. We don’t want to get hurt so we fear these things.
- Social Separation – This is where the fear of public speaking comes from. This is the fear of how others perceive us. The fear of being segregated from others because of our relationships, our social status, or our ability to contribute to groups. We fear that if we cannot fit in, we will be alone.
- Ego– This is an internal fear. Fear of failing at a goal. Being shameful for what you have done. These fears stem from standards we set for ourselves and how we view our own lives. This is controlled by your core values and how you live up to those values, or those self-destructive things you do like we discussed in the Bad Mood Button post.
We are born with primal fear. Social fear is developed at an early age. We are social beings. We want to be included, have friends, and develop relationships. Ego fear has just recently in the last few decades really come to the surface. Social media has really assisted with the exponential evolution of this fear.
We see how happy others are, how great their lives are and the things that they get to do. We compare ourselves to those images. We realize we want to do those things, have those experiences, and live that similar life. So we belittle ourselves. We say that we are in capable or not deserving.
This is where your personal limitation stems from. Limitations do not come from primal fear or even social separation fear. You are limited by our own beliefs.
This weekend I ran one of the hardest races I have ever participated in. The Leadville Heavy Half Marathon in Leadville Colorado. It is a 15.5 mile race that starts at 10,200 feet in elevation. You run 7.75 miles to Mosquito pass at an elevation of 13,182 feet. Then turn around and run back.
Lots of barriers to overcome and lots of things to fear:
- 15.5 miles isn’t for the faint of heart even at sea level.
- 10,200 feet of elevation will make a lot of people sick.
- 13,182 feet of elevation is so high, trees don’t grow because there isn’t enough oxygen.
- 3,000 feet of uphill running. Thats well over half a mile straight up.
- 3,000 feet of downhill running. If you fall you’re going for a tumble.
- Waste deep snow in June in some parts of the course.
- Snow melt makes some of the roads tiny creeks.
- Lose rocks from runoff are extremely dangerous
Just to name a few.
Running up to the pass the elite runners where coming back down. And they were flying. If you have ever ran down a hill you know how dangerous it can be. You get up so much speed you can’t get your feet under you quick enough, it’s easy to fall flat on your face. Now ad rocks that shift, snow, mud, and hundreds of people to navigate.
I have never seen anyone run with such reckless abandonment. It made me nervous.
In that moment I had a realization of fear. In a race like this there are two directions of fear. I feared running up to quickly because I didn’t want to exhaust myself. I was scared that if I expended to much energy I would never make it to the finish line.
The other is fear of coming down. Many people walked because they feared the fall, or twisting of an ankle. The lack of control frightened them. (I sprinted down I love that lack of control).
Both are valid fears – both are limiting. The individuals that placed highly in the race this last weekend were those that harnessed that fear and went after it with everything they had. They didn’t fear going up to fast and being tired or losing control and falling on the way down – a couple were mighty bloody at the finish. But they won.
Everyone fears differently. But we all suffer the same results because of our fears. We limit our results and our capabilities. We are scared to dare greatly. We are scared that socially we will be separated because we are seen differently. We fear that if we fail we will be hard on ourselves and fall into a state of anxiety or even depression. But are these fears real?
My thought with fear, as any emotion is – if you feel it and is causes a reaction in your gut and your feelings, its real.
So the next question is – is it justified? Here is how you approach fear and keep it from limiting your results and your life.
- The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Fear is not a problem but you must recognize when it hits. You have to be honest with yourself and admit you are fearful.
- Identify the source of that fear. What causes it? Is there a specific stimulus that you are reacting to? You can usually tell this over a period of time by keeping a journal. I right about my fears and emotions all the time. If you go back and read your past entries over the last few months you will see a pattern.
- What type of fear is it? Primal? Social Separation? Ego? Identify what type of fear it is.
- What control do you have over it?
- If it is primal – What can you do to stay safe and to protect yourself?
- If its Social Separation – Will it really cause you to be segregated or alone. And if people judge you, do you need those people in your life?
- If it is Ego – Your actions and thoughts are not aligning with your values. What do you hold as important? You can change your habits, behaviors and actions to align with your values and end this fear.
- Fix it or embrace it. Fear is a natural instinct and it is okay to have. The last thing you want to do is be hard on yourself for feeling fear. This then becomes a deeper level of Ego Fear. You are human; you have emotions, embrace them. If you can fix the situation to remove the fear then fix it. If you cannot fix the situation then you must find a way to live with it, embrace it, and eventually let it go.
The great thing about fears that are tied to your ego or social separation is you have complete control over them. We can put ourselves in a place to eliminate social fear by surrounding ourselves with people that do not judge us, speak down to us, bully us, and treat us with disrespect. Only associate and spend your time with those that build you up, support your beliefs and help you live the life you want to live.
You can eliminate ego fear by being kind to yourself. Find truly what matters to you. What values to you hold, how do you want to be remembered when you are gone. If you are unsure how to do this, I can walk you through it by finding you High Emotional Value Goals.
Spend time with yourself and understand what makes you happy or upset. Do more of what makes you happy and less of what makes you upset.
Your fears are limiting. Though they are justified, it doesn’t mean you have to live by them. You can control them! Those that win; those that accomplish greatly are those that understand fear, recognize it, and dare to push through it.