FEAR or False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear is an emotion we would all do well to overcome

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Humans are hard-wired for negativity but we don’t live a dangerous life on the Serengeti anymore. It’s very unlikely we’ll be eaten on our way to work, so we have to learn to override that unrealistic exaggeration of danger that we think lurks around every corner. We also allow fear to control us. Remember the feedback loop. It’s a never ending cycle. We are controlled by fear, and we allow fear to control us. For the most part fear is just false evidence appearing real. When we can learn to realistically gauge what little danger actually does exist in our lives, we will find the courage we need to take chances and begin living the life of our dreams.

In my work as a Coach, fear is always at the core of any issue. Fear of failure, fear of being alone, fear of success, and fear of losing are just a few of the things people are afraid of experiencing. Other than the emotion of shame, I can’t think of a more disabling demon to conquer than fear.

In most cases, FEAR is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real. 300 years ago, Thomas Jefferson so aptly wrote: 

“There are indeed gloomy & hypochondriac minds, inhabitants of diseased bodies, disgusted with the present, & despairing of the future; always counting that the worst will happen, because it may happen. To these I say…How much pain has cost us the evils which have never happened!”
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, Apr. 8, 1816

We could argue that much has happened since Thomas Jefferson penned those words. In spite of the evil, we have survived and thrived while facing 2 World Wars, multiple financial crises, plagues and famines, natural and manmade disasters. In those few instances in any 1 individual life where the worst does happen…courage, tenacity and ingenuity are also prevalent.

Fear is a wasted emotion and takes from your full enjoyment of this life. Trust that you are able to cope, no matter what experiences you may encounter. I know this for a fact. Why…because you are human, so that means you are resilient. After all, the human race has proven our resiliency time and again!

(Below is an excerpt from a blog post you may like to read for more on stress and  resiliency.)

We live in perpetual crisis today.  Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, pumps non-stop as we engage the  fight or flight response multiple times each and every day. A physical mechanism designed to save us from serious danger and ensure our survival now pumps in response to a life which has become dangerously complex. We live a life untrue to who we are at our core and we die a little every day.  Just like ‘death from a thousand cuts’, we don’t see we are bleeding to death.

Human beings are incredibly resilient.  Just think back to stories of survival during the Holocaust for confirmation….

I want to give you an exercise to work through so you can strengthen your resiliency muscle.

The only way to face fear is to face it head on. The good news…

you can overcome what scares you in your imagination where it’s safer.

Your body and your mind don’t know if the experience is real, so take it as far as you can in your imagination without overly stressing yourself. This is a process. When you become comfortable answering the questions below the first time, you can look at them again and venture a little further down the imagination ‘well’ until you reach the bottom. You’ll know when you’ve arrived because what you were afraid of won’t scare you anymore!

Sit with the following questions. Take them one at a time and let them percolate.

  • What is the one thing, which may happen, that you worry about the most?
  • How realistic is it that this will happen?
  • If it should happen, will you still be breathing?
  • Do you have supportive people who will help you cope with this situation, in the unlikely event it does occur?
  • Will you eventually be Okay, if this event should occur?

 Getting a handle on needless fear is important for 2 reasons:

  • Our full enjoyment of life depends on it. Getting a handle on our fear increases the probability we will embrace this life, take chances and live at our full potential.
  • Our health depends on it. Fear produces cortisol (stress hormone). When we live overly fearful and anxious lives, these hormones stay at an elevated level and increase heart rate, respiration and glucose levels. This can lead to serious health issues.

Everyone has to deal with fear, that’s a given. It’s how we deal with fear when it arises that determines our level of happiness. When we can learn to realistically gauge what little danger actually does exist in our lives, we will find the courage we need to take chances and begin living the life of our dreams.

I know this is both a scary and exciting time to be alive on this planet.  Let me help you live in to your best life.

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