Fear - it has 677,000,000 (that's 677 million) results when typed into Google (interestingly "faith" reaps only 567,000,000 results). Why is fear such a reoccupation of our experience in life? What is it and why is it there? These are big questions and we don't pretend to know the actual answers but we do have an opinion which is what we'll share in this post...so, hang on tight as we are going on a bit of a ride with this one.
Fear - a well discussed and debated word in the circles of self development, self improvement, and overall personal change. We all encounter it to varying degrees at various points in our life. There are already the go-to definitions of fear - False Evidence Appearing Real - which is a realistic and accurate determination but here at Thinking Mechanics we like to lift the cover off things a little more and really dig down to understand the anatomy of those things that affect our lives.
Fear is an odd thing. In some cases it is what is needed for a given situation - the whole "fight or flight" mechanism we all have when encountering a situation that may require us to fight or fly away. In other situations fear gets in the way. If we had the ability to just get rid of it it would actually aid us to progress in our lives. So, why then, does fear assist in this capacity?
We have heard it said that "fear is your friend" which points towards fear actually being a guide in life and that what ever you fear is probably the place or direction you need to take. There is fundamental truth to this. What this still does not answer is what is fear? The moniker of "fear is your friend" paints fear as a "thing". We talk about fear as if it is alive. Anyone asked to draw what they see fear as would have no issue creating what they interpret fear to be. In many cases this would probably be an image of some dark looking figure looking menacing and scary.
This is where the illusion starts with fear - it's not a thing. For many of us fear keeps us pinned in the past. It hinders or stops us becoming what we can be in the future. Let us explain.
At Thinking Mechanics, we see FEaR [deliberate small and big letters] not as a "thing" but as a ingredient in our lives that consists of three key components;
What we perceive as FEaR is in fact feelings, emotions and reactions we have experienced from previous events or circumstances in our lives that are being applied to a current or future event in our life. The way that we live, how we behave and the habits we operate in everyday are the result of past decisions, experiences and thoughts. In other words - we use the past to construct how we walk around in the present. What we experience as FEaR is past feelings, emotions and reactions we automatically assign to present events that are similar to events we have already experienced. From this perspective - what we call FEaR is in fact a bunch of past experiences coming to life again as feelings, emotions and reactions. Essentially - we manufacture FEaR. We experience it as an automatic part of our life but is in fact completely within our control to manage. Lets illustrate with an example.
You walk into a crowded room and immediately feel anxious. You can't see anyone you know and everyone seems to be engaged with and talking to someone...apart from you. Anxiety turns into fear as you experience a range of emotions as you replay various scenarios in your head about the probably of you having to go up to people and strike up some conversation. It all gets too much and you react by deciding to turn around and go out the way you came in. Now, this may be a bit extreme but you get the picture. FEaR got the better of you. Or did it? Was it really FEaR or was it a set of feelings, emotions and reactions experienced in the past all coming together into the present moment that produce a response that we experience as FEaR.
Imagine instead the same scenario but this time when you step into the room, the anxiety creeps up but this time you stop, scan the room and say to yourself - "I am going to have a great time meeting some fresh new people tonight, let's do this". Your past emotions, feelings and reactions to a similar event now have no space to operate - and so fear dissolves.
It is when we allow past Feelings, Emotions and Reactions (F.E.a.R) to come into our present moment and govern how we presently behave is what we all experience as, or at least what we call, FEaR. We don't need to act this way. How we feel, the emotions we experience and ultimately how we act and react to experiences in life are all within our control. It doesn't matter if we have felt or reacting to something or someone in the same way 1000 times - we don't have act the same way the next time we encounter it.
FEaR is not a thing. It is what we conjure from our past which we apply to the present. Instead - we can choose not to do this. Learning from our past is important but that is not the same as being what we have been in the past.
At Thinking Mechanics we have gone as far as eliminating the word FEaR from our vocabulary. Instead of saying "we don't fear' we say 'we will not allow our past emotions, feelings and reactions to dictate how we will act and behave in the present moment." From that perspective FEaR completely evaporates and becomes non-existent. Now, this is not to say we will not ever experience fear...we will. Understanding how we manufacture FEaR provides enough awareness to deal with it in the future.
Fear has it's place - especially if you are genuinely in personal danger...it helps. It is the fear that confronts us when we want to step outside of our normal routine that we are talking about here. Stepping out to achieve our dreams, doing things we have never done before and daring to believe we can change will push us to confront what we call FEaR but is in fact the past being applied to a present or future event.
Creating personal change in your life means confronting FEaR and making a decision to do the following;
Not reacting or acting in the way you did before - you are in complete control how you respond, act, and feel in any situation in your life. Don't allow how you have been in the past to dictate how you will be in the future. You can change and the fundamental part of this is deciding how you respond, think and feel to situations and people you encounter.
By no means do we want to belittle what we all encounter in our life. FEaR is a genuine part of our lives however we have learnt that the very first and fundamental part of desiring any amount of change in our life is first becoming aware of those areas that have some influence in achieving this.
So, what are the areas in your life where FEaR has an influence? What situation would benefit the most if you altered your feelings, emotions, and reactions to it?
So now, managing FEaR, can help us all get a major step forward in achieving our ultimate goals.
Until next time - take care and healthy thinking