Fear of not being enough
Fear of not being loved
Fear of loneliness
Fear of death and destruction
Fear of old age
Fear of pain
Fear of failure
Fear of rejection
Fear of the unknown/disappointment
Fear of loss of freedom
Fear of being criticized/ridiculed
Fear of something bad happening
What is fear really? Have you wondered why for one person touching a snake is terrifying while another chooses it as a pet? Why one person sees relationships as a way to intimacy and real connection while another one as loss of freedom?
What does this mean? Well basically it means that we create fear in our heads, by giving meaning, making associations and predictions of what will happen.
We are on autopilot giving sense to events not based on objective reality, but on subjective reality. When we have a bad or traumatic experience, it gets stored in the amygdala and whenever we are faced with some stimulus resembling the dangerous past situation we will send chemicals as fearful messages from one neuron to another across a synapse. It is an automatic response based on our need for survival and protection and the more we think fearful thoughts, the more we reinforce fear based circuits called neural pathways that will generate more fear based automatic responses.
In the dictionary fear is defined as something along the lines of “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat”.
That something or someone can be a random negative thought, a snake, your boss telling you that you need to come into their office, a noise coming from your kitchen at night etc.
Our brain is an amazing complex organism with over 100 billion neurons, constantly communicating with each other. “Neurons that fire together wire together”, so the more you keep thinking fearful thoughts the more you are reinforcing that neural pathway and will automatically generate even more fearful thoughts and forming fearful beliefs about life.
Once you have a belief, you will unconsciously select information from the external reality through your sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell to prove that belief. Do you know people that always manage to see the worst of a situation or the best of it, no matter what the situation is? That’s because our biggest need is for consistency or certainty of what our reality is, and when we have a belief we try our best to prove it right, even when believing it hurts us. For ex: if you have a fear of rejection, you will look extra carefully for clues of rejection in other people’s behavior and assign that meaning even when it is not there. Your purpose behind it is one of protection from hurt, but you have to understand that through the belief that people reject you or don’t like you, you are hurting yourself much more. By having this belief and acting accordingly you are cutting short the chances of interacting freely with more people, being happy and having an awesome social life.
Fear always starts with a frightening stimulus and ends up with a fight or flight response which manifests as racing heart, sweating, nausea, fast breathing, tightening or energizing of the muscles.
Information we perceive through the 5 senses is transmitted to certain parts of the brain involved with the limbic system, which is the center of emotion. In the production of fear, the most used parts of the brain are:
1) Thalamus-where sensory data is received through the 5 senses and the decision is made as to where it should be sent
2) Sensory cortex-where the data received is being interpreted
3) Hippocampus-gives context to the stimuli received and stores and retrieves at will conscious memories
4) Amygdala- gives meaning to emotions. It works on the avoid pain and gain pleasure principles and scans and stores incoming events deciding for the present and the future what is dangerous and what brings pleasure
5) Hypothalamus- activates the fight or flight response
Fear is uniquely created by each of us in our brain, it is an unconscious process and it has 2 ways or roads for manifestation. These 2 roads are happening simultaneously in the brain and the more we are afraid of a certain activity or thing the more often the automatic low road approach will be taken.
Ex: we will take here the example of getting ready to deliver a speech at a public speaking event
1) the low road is concerned with a “no risk” or “just in case” approach because the focus is on what might go wrong. So, as you enter the stage and look at your audience, seeing their stern look, you take in all that info and your brain sends it to the thalamus. The thalamus doesn’t know for sure if you will do bad or you will do well, but since you fear very much doing bad and not be liked it decides to send this information to the amygdala for meaning. The amygdala preoccupied with protection decides to send a signal to the hypothalamus and initiate the fight or flight response in order to protect you.
2) The high road takes more time; it is more deliberate and focuses on taking into account several scenarios of the present situation. As you enter the stage and look at the audience, your brain scans the audience and sends the information to the thalamus. The thalamus sends this information to the sensory cortex, which scans it and decides that there is more than 1 possible outcome. The sensory cortex then sends it to the hippocampus for context to be established. The hippocampus will start asking questions based on your habitual approach in life. The hippocampus will also scan memories of a similar event and make associations predicting the outcome of this present situation. These questions could be: If I stay relaxed and do my best, would they like me? How can I engage them and make it fun and interesting? They are here to listen to me and I remember that awesome speech I had last year that made people applaud for a long time? What joke could I say to break the ice, and put everyone in a more receptive place?
By focusing on all this information, the hippocampus will decide the stern looks most likely mean interest for new information from the audience, will send a message to the amygdala that there is no danger and the amygdala in turn will tell the hypothalamus to turn off the fight or flight response.
These 2 roads are happening simultaneously in the brain, but the high road takes a little bit longer and so, even when we realize we are being paranoid, it takes us a moment or two of panic before we can come to that conclusion.
Based on our beliefs, past experiences and upbringing we will experience these 12 fears in different ways. Moreover, based on our 2 primary needs as well as 3 primary ways of taking in information through the senses will create a unique way of feeling fearful of certain things, people or situations. Real fear is healthy, if you would not have it you would cross the street not looking for cars, or put your hand in fire, or jump from a building. But emotional fear is a defense mechanism giving the illusion of protection. Most people live with it and have no idea they are prisoners of their own mind and in their own life.
Once you understand what are you focusing on in your mind to become fearful, you will be able to face the fear and replace it with the emotion you want to feel.
In order to eradicate your fears we need to create a conditioned response that is contrary to the conditioned fear response you have been practicing. The great new is that your subconscious can be programmed to elicit relaxed and objective mindsets regarding life situations. The same way you have been reinforcing fearful neural pathways and trained yourself to automatically respond with fear to life events, you can now replace that with NLP techniques used and proven to work for others. Successful, courageous or whatever trait you see in someone is nothing more but a natural inclination or practiced belief of how life works. The difference lies in a set of patterns of thoughts, which create beliefs; those beliefs create resourceful emotional states and that is the fuel that elicits the necessary behavior in us. If you want to be successful but you fear taking risks or have a pessimistic attitude in life, it will be pretty hard for you to achieve your goals. On the other hand if you like change, are flexible and make the best of the situation you will find a way every time no matter what obstacle stands in your way.
My coaching approach focuses on identifying what you would like to experience instead of the fear you have, and on conditioning your subconscious to elicit that behavior automatically with SI, NLP and EQ techniques. We will have fun and interesting mental and behavioral exercises to apply in order to make new empowering neural pathways in your brain. That will help you, when exposed to your fear, focus your mind differently and access resourceful emotional states, which will generate wanted behaviors instead of automatic detrimental ones that hurt the quality of your life.
Also by doing experientially what you are fearful off, by gradually exposing you to the fearful stimuli, will make you understand that nothing wrong can happen if you face the fearful stimuli, and therefore create a new fear extinction conditioned memory.
So for ex if you are a man that fears rejection, one behavioral exercise would be going in a public place every day and ask women out for coffee until you get rejected 3 times. It might very well happen that some women might say yes to you, while others will say no. In any case after you have been rejected 3 times and you see that you are still alive, you can go home and do the exercise the next day in a different assigned location. By assigning you specific locations and targets, and working on your approach we will move your confidence gradually up until you get to the point where you can go to any place, pick the woman that seems the most interesting to you and go talk to her in a charming nonchalant manner.
Ladies, hopefully you already know this, but just in case, this is not a strategy for you. A strategy for you in the dating world might be learning how to give subtle signals to a man you are attracted to in a public place. The more good looking you are and the less eye contact you make with the man you like will seriously damage your opportunities for finding love. We think that men are like beasts, not afraid of approaching us, but in reality they are very afraid of rejection. The better looking a guy is the more identity he has tied into it, and so if you don’t make eye contact with him, he will stay aside, watch how you reject 90% of the guys in that place. He will watch and think, “why should I even bother so she can reject me as well, no she’s not even looking this way, I’m better off choosing an easier target”. Some guys have been rejected so many times that they don’t care and will be much more inclined to come and try to talk to you and you will end up wasting your chance of actually talking to someone you find attractive and possibly with a good personality as well. So, next time you see a good looking guy you would like to talk to, make eye contact, smile and when he comes over break the ice by saying “Hi, I’m …”. You will take a heavy weight of his shoulders because all he is thinking while approaching you is ” what am I going to say to her?; what if she is just playing games so she can reject me as well?”; am I going to look ridiculous?”
Let me help you understand how you create your fears in your mind, and then let’s destroy them.
Be fearless ;))