Managing Fear

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 15-10-2015

We all get fearful from time to time, but what is fear? In this day and age is there anything we really need to fear? After all, we’re hardly likely to get eaten by a sabre toothed tiger or trampled by a herd of woolly mammoths.

The fear that our ancestors faced due to being in constant life threating situations was very different to the fear we feel now. However, those same feelings haven't yet evolved out of us, we still have them whether we are actually in danger or whether we are just imagining the worst that could happen in a given situation.

When, when I talk about fear in the context of this post, I’m not talking about the fear you may feel when you’re walking home late at night when you’re on your own – that’s REAL fear and you have every right to feel that way... that fear is what keeps us safe (like our prehistoric ancestors). What I’m talking about is imagined fear, the scenarios we run through in our minds that drive us to distraction, pain and worry. Those feelings of fear, we DO have control over as they are just thoughts. After all, they haven’t happened yet, they are just things that we vividly imagine might happen, which then elicits the associated feeling so that the scenario ‘feels’ very real (remember our minds can’t tell the difference between something that’s real and something that’s vividly imagined).

Here’s an example to illustrate what I mean. A couple of months ago, I recognised that I had started to become fearful that something I had been working really hard on may not work out which would affect me financially. I noticed that I was becoming more and more fearful and stressed as I ran scenarios of what would happen if it didn’t work out. The more I let my brain run with the ideas, I had myself bankrupt and out on the streets with no where to go within a matter of months. I started to have sleepless nights (something I haven’t suffered from for a very long time) I had let my fear take away my reasoning, my control and my confidence.

Then one day, completely out of the blue I got up and thought, “I’m tired of feeling like this. I’m not doing it anymore” and I stopped. Just like that. I stopped and although from time to time I do get a little negative niggle (after you’ve thought a particular negative thought – or any thought for that matter - for a while, you created quite a strong neural pathway in the brain which means it can manifest itself again quickly and easily when you least expect it) but I just ignore it and get up and do or think of something more positive immediately before it gets the chance to grab a hold.

The issue I was fearful about is still not yet resolved, but I’m not fearful about the outcome and because of that, I can think and plan with more clarity and more effectiveness now that I’m no longer running those unhelpful images which trigger negative emotions.

You may think that it’s not possible to do that ie to just stop worrying. You may even think, “Well, it’s alright for you, but I can’t do that” Well, you can, everyone can. Like I’ve said in other posts, all thoughts are just that, thoughts, which you create.  Thoughts affect your emotions and feelings, however, as you have created them, you can change them. You just have to recognise that you’re having those fearful, negative thoughts and change them to something more positive.

Create a Plan

One way to help deal with real issues that could potential end negatively is to think about them logically as soon as you acknowledge that there may be a problem. Work it through, looking at all the possibilities and come up with a solution even for the worst case scenario. Having a plan and facing the issue head on will give you control back and help you manage the issue effectively (if there really is one and it’s not just something you’ve created in your throws of negativity!).

Visualise the Perfect Outcome

Another helpful tool in managing fear is taking whatever you are worrying about and visualising a perfect outcome, the outcome you really want. Again, the mind can’t figure out the difference between something vividly imagined and something that is real, so by focussing on a positive outcome, that’s much more likely to be the outcome you receive. It will also help you to feel more positive and resourceful.

There are some statistics that I once saw that showed that 90% of what we fear never happens. OK, the negative people reading this will say, “Well 10% could go wrong”, yes, 10% could go wrong, but if you’re worrying and fearful about the 90% that won’t go wrong, you’re not focussing on the important stuff!

It would be remise of me not to point out here that sometime a little ‘controlled’ fear can be good for us. Footballers, actors, public speakers all say that they have a little bit of fear before they make a performance, but it’s a good fear. It’s usually caused a shot of adrenalin, that helps them focus and give an excellent performance. That adrenaline shot comes from our ancestors ‘fight or flight’ syndrome, a shot of adrenalin that give them the strength to either run or fight whatever what coming at them (it’s something that again hasn’t yet disappeared through evolution).

I cover public speaking in another post so I won’t say too much about it here, but the main way to stop those feelings becoming overwhelming is to visualise a positive out come and keep practising. The more you run the pictures of your performance going smoothly and ending well, I'll pretty much guarantee that they will.

In summary, being fearful is rarely useful unless you do find yourself in physical danger. It comes from thoughts of what could happen which is usually not based in reality - I like this little statement (which is actually the strap line for my book: Thoughts Become Things):

"Change your thoughts, change the world"

If you have a problem that you are fearful or worrying about, why not contact us for a free, no obligation consultation on how we can help you.

JO's FIRST BOOK: Thoughts Become Things

Visit the website for Jo Banks' first book, Thoughts Become Things now available in paperback and Kindle formats.