Are you scared? If so, what of?
When i work with Coaching and Cognitive Hypnotherapy clients, fear is a word that comes up again and again. It's a thought-provoking word in that we have applied it to so many different situations and yet we never lose context. Fear of threat - terrorism for example, fear of failure, fear of humiliation, fear of challenge, fear of change, fear of the future. We can place the word fear in front of almost anything and make it a ‘thing’ to fear. My ex-husband has a fear of clowns – in other words, a phobia, the word phobia is derived from the word fear.
Fear is a basic emotion, along with anger, that in my opinion, gets a bad reputation. I see fear not as something to be frightened of per say, but as something to explore something that can teach me. I should caveat this by saying I don’t run towards cliff edges or stand in situations where my fear response is clearly sending me a message to move!
We have three brains in reality and fear is part of our flight, fright, freeze response, which surfaces in the very old part of our brain, the brain that we share with snakes and lizards; this brain does all our automated things, things like hunger, protection and temperature control. These are unconscious activities. We then have an emotional brain and a thinking brain (put incredibly simply). This fear response evolved to protect our cave men and women ancestors who faced real danger in survival. They stepped out of their caves, saw a tiger and instantly had to make a decision: fight, flight or freeze (I’ll refer to this as FFF from now on). It couldn’t be something they stopped and thought about or they would be eaten. Because of this need to survive, the brain has developed a system of hierarchy whereby the old brain assesses danger first, then we can get all emotional over it and then we can think about it.
Where’s the problem?
The problem is that this unconscious fear response has, in today’s society, attached to the wrong things. No one has updated the old brain that tigers aren’t a problem now – unless you fall into the enclosure at London Zoo – and that giving a presentation (a common issue for coaching clients), going for promotion or… clowns, aren’t the modern day equivalent. This means that although we like to think of ourselves as adult rational emotionally balanced humans, when faced with something the old brain puts in the ‘things that might kill me’ box, we go straight to the FFF response. These things are different for each of us, however there are some similarities that the population as a whole tends not to like. For example, that presentation in front of your boss or a fear of small spaces – my personal wobble and inherited from my mother. Inherited fears – another blog!
So how do we combat this if it’s unconscious?
Luckily, knowing this, is your key to stopping it. You can move the reaction from unconscious to conscious and when it’s conscious, we can then change it. I give coaching clients tools to be able to use before the FFF response will hit – so when it’s half an hour before your presentation and you feel your anxiety beginning to rise or you have to put yourself into a small space like a lift, you have something to fall back on: you choose your experience. I also work with hypnotherapy clients to lower the old brain’s response to this event, help it change its opinion and not see this new event as something to put in its ‘things that might kill me response’ and therefore head off the FFF response. it sounds simple doesn't it?! That's where I come in as your coach and cognitive hypnotherapist.
To combat fear, we also need to look at other motivations for doing the thing you don’t want to do. I had to have a brain scan to check for a tumour and it just so happened that the appointment was while my daughter needed an emergency operation. Because mine was also urgent they didn’t want me to miss it. The staff arranged for me to drop her in theatre, run to the brain imaging dept and then run back to theatre to be back in time for her to wake. My focus was not on myself but on her, however when they had packed my head tight into a metal head holder and then attempted to put a metal mask over my face and click it in place, I can tell you my FFF response went off in a big way! I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But then… I calmed, I used all my coaching and hypnotherapy tools to lower my responses, I moved to my conscious brain which used this motivation and I used visualisations. I have limited time, my daughter needs me – that motivation outweighed all the other stuff and although terrified, I shut my eyes, took some deep breaths and let them do it and didn’t open my eyes until it was off again. This is where working with coaching clients around what truly motivates them is key.
To repeat my title, ‘are you scared and if so, what of? When you feel fearful, is it a truly worrying situation? Is it life and death? Is it taking over your life and making you generally anxious? Is it just something you would rather not feel? If so, there’s lots you can do to prevent it. In my coaching and cognitive hypnotherapy business in Cambridge, I work with many anxious people who have previously seen anxiety as something they have to tolerate and cope with.
We can change it.
Don’t let your fear stop you being who you want to be.
Get in touch for a conversation about how we can move you from surviving to thriving.