What is fear, really?
This instinct has served us well throughout the ages. For example, when we lived in the forest and a bear walked into our camp. God hard wired our brains with this amazing life-saving capacity.
The first thing to understand is that triggering is happening below our brains in our nervous system (sub-cortical response) It is stored emotion and memory that is in our bodies.
Which is why we feel such a somatic response. Chest heaviness, heart palpitations, mind racing, shallow breathing, panicky feelings. Here’s a down to earth explanation…
Our pupils dilate permitting us to take in more details than usual. This response cannot be ordered on command. As you read this story you can’t decide to dilate your pupils by force of will. But when your brain receives information that threatens your safety it immediately begins pumping neurochemicals into your blood stream that do this, before even asking your permission.
Dilated pupils mean more information flooding into your brain. Like a video camera snapping more pictures per second creating a slow-motion effect in real time. The end result? More information calculated faster to make a decision in record time. The world doesn’t slow down so that you can think, but your brain’s information receptors ‘speed up’ so that less time has passed while you’re processing.
Also some people recount that they were able to perform feats of super-human strength. Lifting heavy wagons off of trapped legs, things they could no longer perform after the effects of the adrenaline rush had worn off.
Information is the antidote
Let’s adapt the original scenario. Imagine that while you’re reading this post a bear walks into the clearing, into the room you’re in. Your heart starts racing, your pupils dilate, adrenaline pumps, you’re ready to perform superhuman feats to save your kin. Then while your adrenaline is rushing fully, you learn more information. The bear is really your friend dressed in a very life like costume, playing a joke on you. With one piece of information your brain pumps new neurochemicals that instantly trigger your body’s decent out of the adrenaline induced zone. In an instant you could no longer perform those superhuman feats that you were looking forward to, and in the following minutes your heart rate will return slowly to normal.
All it took to return from fear, was new information. New information that you are safe. New information that this source of fear is here for your good not for your harm.
These strategies that once worked to keep us safe, no longer serve us unless we are actually in an emergency situation. Feeling anxiety is mostly about feeling out of control. Our brains and bodies are fighting to feel safe again. Learning practical concrete action steps to take to keep you safe is the information you need to trigger the safety neurochemicals as an antidote on the fire of panic burning inside.
We have to engage our nervous system in order to regulate ourselves so we can create this feeling of safety. Here are some practical Action Plans to work toward that goal.
Mitigate your risk
Risk management begins by evaluating the subject of fear. Is it good for you or bad for you? Are there positives that out weight the risks? What protective measures could you take to reduce the risk level?
Meditate in the morning
Consume content that fills your mind with affirmations that speak truth and calm. Begin handwriting Psalms. Let your pen flow and express your own responses to them.
Accept the new normal
If this were to last six months, what would you do differently to thrive? Begin doing that today.
The fight or flight sequence that your body has initiated uses more energy than normal mode. Now you know why your brain doesn’t process that quickly every moment of the day. You will need to sleep and eat foods to recharge your adrenals. It is normal that non nappers suddenly need naps when going through major life transitions.
Keep a schedule
Sleep at the same time. Wake at the same time. Write the day’s date each day. Journal. Eat at mealtimes. Eat vitamin-rich foods.
Have something worth looking forward to
Know your purpose in life and begin taking steps toward that goal today. No matter what your circumstances becoming the person who will accomplish your life’s purpose always starts with what you are doing today to work toward that goal.
Make the world a better place, innovate to solve the world’s problems, and bring hope to the soul. By using your unique giftedness and giving back to the world the new meaning you find may just be a pathway to the person God created you to be.
Looking for advice tailored to your project?
Begin living a version of your ideal life within your current circumstances. If you need help elaborating a risk management plan, poles of productivity, or concrete action steps toward your life’s purpose, find a coach. It’s worth it.
Work methodically through your action plan
Confidence comes one step at a time as you work toward your goal. Track what you can track, check things off the list. Celebrate the wins.
Surround yourself with cheerleaders
When the hard days come you’ll need to be surrounded by people who will cheer you on, not tear you down. Turn off the noise, and tune in to messages that breathe life and hope.mwangi gatheca