Updated: Jul 3, 2021
We have arrived! To the final component of the 3F formula – being FEARLESS!
When we talk about reaching our goals, being fearless might not be the first thing we think about. Instead, it might be something we associate with jumping out of a plane or so…
Most of us would probably consider that having a good plan, taking action, seeking guidance, would be the most important but being fearless is actually crucial if we want to reach our goals.
Back in the day, whenever I had a bigger challenge in front of me and somehow held back, I never realised just how much that had to do with fear and I never really understood where my insecurities and doubts were coming from.
Well, it turns out that fear is like gum on your shoe, really annoying and it sticks around ha ha
Have you ever noticed how good we are at talking ourselves out of a situation, out of going to the gym, or making that uncomfortable phone call?
That is all to do with fear and our surprisingly primitive brain. Now, I’m pretty sure that, this statement doesn’t sit quite right with you. However, despite all the technological advances and progress we have made, behaviourally we are still stuck in the stone age.
Nigel Nicholson explains it quite well on Harvard Business Review:
“Evolutionary psychologists assert there are three reasons why the agricultural and environmental changes have not stimulated further human evolution. First, as far back as 50,000 years ago, humans had become so scattered across the planet that beneficial new genetic mental mutations could not possibly spread. Second, there has been no consistent new environmental pressure on people that requires further evolution. In other words, no eruptions of volcanoes or glaciers plowing south have so changed the weather or the food supply that people’s brain circuitry has been forced to evolve. Third, 10,000 years is insufficient time for significant genetic modifications to become established across the population. Thus, evolutionary psychologists argue that although the world has changed, human beings have not.”
If your eyebrow is still raised at this point, please feel free to conduct some more research. I will admit, I also found it a bit hard to swallow at first. It does explain a lot though.
The reality is that we still act like tribal people and fear is with us from the moment we wake up.
I’m sure that a lot of us are convinced that we are in charge and we make all our decisions, but fact is that we all have internal dialogues going on and we all need to learn how to make our brain work for us instead of against us. Once we do that, we become unstoppable.
So what are we afraid of?
1. Fear of loss
Just take a moment and think about it right now. Say you want to start your own business, finally move to the French Riviera or buy that Alfa Romeo you’ve been dreaming about since you were 12 but it’s all so scary.
It certainly doesn’t come easy to leave a secure job, or the environment you grew up in, to leave your friends and family behind. Even just making the decision to trade your good old reliable German car in for a temperamental Italian seems like a massive gamble, and make no mistake your brain will try to talk you out of it. We start focusing on what we are losing, the security, the safety, the reliability.
Now I’m not trying to say that we are all terrified and hopeless but for the most of us, it is challenging to make such decisions. Our brain doesn’t respond well to loss at all. It will always try to steer us away from anything that can cause us pain and it will direct us towards pleasure instead.
Let’s face it, the future is uncertain, we can never know for sure what might happen and that brings me to my second point.
2. The fear of change and the unknown
Our brains number one job is to keep us alive! Now, we’ve already established that our brain is still quite primitive in certain ways. When we were living in tribes and didn’t have the safety and security of modern society, survival was a numbers game. We needed each other to survive, and we needed to stick to what we knew. If we ventured outside our living area, a ravenous predator could kill us, heck even a new type of berry we haven’t tried before could end our life on the spot.
Unsurprisingly our brain learned to cherish the familiar, the tried and true. Any time we want to try something new, the alarm bells go off like crazy. Obviously, some people listen more to these warning screeches, others less. Just think of your brain, as your overprotective mom that newer leaves your side. Ever!
Now that we know this though, we can just, thank it and rank it! Whenever we are making plans, deciding to do something and the niggling thoughts start surfacing, thank your mind for the input and immediately rank it. Is this a helpful though? Is this thought based in fear? Is this though empowering? If it turns out to be on the lower end of the scale, get rid of it. Do not allow it to run your life, do not entertain it!
We only want empowering thoughts that will support us.
It’s also very important to focus on what we are going to gain. Replace the fearful thoughts with the most amazing outcome you can imagine! And go big, or go back to bed.
In all honesty though, how many times have we all painted this really terrible image before and event, imagined the worst possible outcome and despite all our ‘efforts ‘ nothing bad ever happened.
The third type of fear I want to address is:
3. The fear of rejection
This is a big one, and it wears a hundred different disguises.
Fear of public speaking, fear of finding love, fear of starting your own business or even writing a book. The list goes on. It truly comes in many forms and has all to do with our survival instinct.
As I mentioned earlier, back in the day, survival was absolutely a numbers game and nothing worse could happen to us than to be shunned from society. It was a sure death sentence. Nowadays, as adults, we can easily survive on our own and lead a life in isolation. Whether we would want to or not, that’s a different story :)
An interesting thing to note however, is that babies still cannot survive without touch. Babies who are not held, nuzzled, and hugged enough can stop growing, and if the situation lasts long enough, they can even die. So it’s understandable that we seek out approval from people around us and that we fear rejection. It is still a very real and crippling fear. Even those of us who seem to pull away from society and give the impression that they want to be left alone, only do so because they feel misunderstood and like they don’t belong. They feel very alone with their problems and can’t even begin to imagine that someone else would feel the way they do. If only they would find the courage to open up, they would soon discover that they are not alone with their fears and hindering reasoning.
So how do we deal with fear?
The absolute first step is to understand, which we now do. The second step is to catch ourselves, better yet our brains, when it tries to inject that crippling dose of fear. Once we are aware of what is happening, it becomes much easier to actually do something about it.
Pro Tip: fear feeds on time, so we have to deprive it, starve it of what it loves the most.
The wonderful Mel Robbins suggests her 5 second rule to remedy just that.
Imagine you’re in a situation that is completely out of your comfort zone or it’s really daunting, and you notice your body starting to react. Your palms get sweaty, your stomach feels tight, maybe you get agitated, etc. Something really important to note is that there is an incredibly thin line between fear and excitement. The only real difference between fear and excitement is the words you use & the story you tell yourself.
Two people standing in line to go on a monster rollercoaster can display the exact same ‘symptoms’ but have a complete opposite narrative. Being jittery, felling tingling in your fingers, having sweaty palms can describe either state, it really just comes down to what you tell yourself.
When ever you feel fear creeping up, you have to become aware and immediately start the countdown form 5 to 1.
With that, you switch the gears in your mind, you awaken your prefrontal cortex and ensure you are now in charge of your thoughts. You interrupt the fear.
Now it’s time to focus on a positive outcome, a positive image and tell yourself the right thigs.
Just imagine you’re on the rollercoaster, screeching down at an insane speed and you start screaming, I love it! It will only take seconds to trick your mind and to change the initial fear into excitement. It’s that easy. You just need to make sure you are in charge, and you stay in chare!
The 5 second rule is truly wonderful and please feel free to read more about it, however at this point I feel like I need to address something more.
When I first read about the 5 second rule and Mel’s method, I was very excited but in some cases it didn’t quite help. I used to be afraid of flying and I tried using this method, but I kept jumping back to the negative thoughts. Obviously, that confused me even more and I was a complete mess.
In my situation it wasn’t so much a fear of flying but a fear of not having control and that’s a different issue altogether. I love airports, I love to travel, I’m fascinated by airplanes, I understand the physics behind it but feeling out of control was crippling for me.
The point I’m making is that sometimes you have to dive a bit deeper to find the true cause of an issue and never be discouraged to do so. We are we complex creatures and in my next post I will write about how we can get to know and understand ourselves better.
Tune in next week for another exciting read and stay curios ;)