A Note On Fear

Who here has felt fear before?

Fear that you said or did the wrong thing. Fear that your friend, boss, loved-one is mad at you. Fear that you won’t find your life-path, life-mate, life-purpose. Fear that you will not be liked. Fear that you will never feel okay.

It was only until recently that I truly came to understand my fear. And not just that much of my thoughts or actions were rooted in fear, but that I was truly afraid to not be afraid - ironic isn’t it?

I found myself uncomfortable with the idea of not worrying. What was I missing if I didn’t worry? What would catch me off guard if I didn’t analyze possible worst-case-scenarios? What terrible thing would happen when I chose to not go down the rabbit hole of what-ifs?

I am not a brain scientist, but through my understanding of our primitive desire to defend ourselves and our instinctual fight or flight response to react to our environment, I have come to realize my constant worrying is my biological attempt to create safety for myself. And, so comes the feeling that if I let my guard down and don’t choose to worry - well that is like throwing myself to the wolves.

I am more uncomfortable of letting go of worry, than worry itself.

Have you ever spent hours agonizing over something you or someone else said or did? Or have you found yourself in a state of panic about something that either doesn’t have an answer or can’t be resolved in the moment - well, that is fear. While it feels almost necessary in the moment to dwell in your thoughts, in reality it serves no purpose. But back to our biological wiring - it appears to us that the fear we have is what will create our safety.

We have become so used to being afraid, that we almost don’t know how to live without it.

And why is this a problem? Well, it takes a huge toll on our health. Our stress response plays a tremendous role on many of our different body systems - and before we know it we see our constant worry manifest in the form of health conditions (digestion, hormones, heart, weight). Not only this, but all of our fear means our prefrontal cortex (rational, thinking brain) gets put on the back-burner and under-utilized. We become more reactive individuals with less patience, rationalization, and attention.

So while I don’t have all the answers, I can tell you the impact that awareness brings to managing and challenging fear. Getting into that place of discomfort with being okay with the unknown, or being okay with the thing you said or did wrong, or the lack of clarity and not letting fear overtake you in the process.

So although us humans are pretty darn smart - it seems we’ve got some brain re-training work to do. Hopefully next time you are in a state of fear, perhaps give yourself the opportunity to become more aware of the fear and challenge yourself to let it go.

Here’s to a little less fear and a little more love - unless there is a scary movie on, then I’m hiding under the bedsheets!

Andrea Zimmering