Breaking down fear, for what it is

I have been reading and thinking a lot about stepping out of comfort zones lately – you know – the spaces that fear keeps you in to avoid emotional and physical vulnerability. I am learning that we can’t really blame fear for this, either. After all, fear is just trying to do its job – to protect us from harm.

It makes sense if you think about it. Fear is a survival strategy that has protected our race as we have evolved. Back when survival was the main concern in life, fear would keep us from getting too close to danger.  (Now go ahead, think cave men and women around the fire sewing hides together for clothing and cleaning their latest kill… if the Flintstones come to mind, that’s cool too 😉 ). Fear would also drive us to go out and hunt for our families because if we didn’t, we would all die from starvation.

We have many kinds of fears, but we can usually categorize them into either physical, or emotional. Emotional fear was important to survival because we did not want to get rejected, or lose those nurturing relationships that protected us and gave us strength in groups. Rebelling against the pack meant you were left on your own to fend for yourself – literally.

Ok, now let’s fast-forward thousands of years and take a look at Jenn, who is sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop on Broadway in Vancouver, BC. She’s settled at the high-top table by the window, casually scrolling through some job descriptions on her mac book. She sees one that requires three more years of experience than she has. Jenn’s thoughts: “Oh, no definitely not that one, I am not sure I could do steps five and six.” Then she sees a writer position posted, but immediately glazes over it because she’s never had that job title before, even though writing interests her. Her eyes drift upwards out the window and they fall upon a good looking guy. Jen has been single for a while, and she would love to meet that guy out there, but there is no way she would risk the possibility of embarrassing herself by going up to him, in case he wasn’t interested.

There is a common theme during Jenn’s experience in the coffee shop. Every time she decides not to do something, it’s because of her fear. This is when fear sucks, today. It keeps us small, and gives us the easy way out so we don’t rock the boat or put ourselves into nerve wracking situations.

Imagine though, if Jenn applied to the job that required more years of experience than she had. Two things could have happened during the interview: She could have impressed the heck out of the employer by being who she was and pulling on the strong skills she did have, or, maybe the interview doesn’t go that well, and they thought that indeed she was unqualified. So what? A little disappointment is the worst that could have happened.

But, that feeling of fear is so intense. It says “no! don’t do it!” But really today, we would not be seriously harmed if we failed at an interview or got rejected by a boy.

If you want to go for what you REALLY want, and take risks to live truly to your own heart, then sure, you might get criticized by someone else, you might put yourself into situations that you feel are out of your league. You might get embarrassed or fail sometimes. But today, this isn’t a matter of life or death. It’s just a matter of getting past the fear that keeps us small. I also believe that once we do something we were afraid of and succeed, we re-train our minds and the fear disappears because whatever it was protecting us from didn’t in fact, attack us in the night and end our lives.

Thank you all for reading this week, I hope that seeing fear in this perspective will help you recognize it for what it is, and appreciate it, but refuse to let it stop you from going after what you want. F.E.A.R. is just a feeling, and it is always FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL.

XOXO until next time,

Your fellow HSP, Chelsie

 

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