Fear: and why we don't need it anymore

Without fear the human race would not have got very far. At the dawning of our species there were many things to fear. It kept us alive, a healthy understanding of the dangers in life. The brain is hardwired to fight or flee in moments of great danger, adrenalin flooding the system to help us escape.

So, fast forward a few thousand years where thankfully we are no longer stalked by wild animals (at least not in West Oxfordshire). Yet a real ‘fear hangover’ from these ancient times remains. Statistically we are safer than ever. Yet we retain so many irrational fears…

Whilst a subject this complex requires a great deal of understanding here are some important and simple points which can help make a difference to people's lives.

People are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by the views they take of those things

Research confirms that over 80% of the things we fear turn out to be neutral or even positive experiences. Imagine how much time is wasted on rumination. Simple but effective ways of understanding negative thinking and self-talk is a good way to banish fear. By learning to observe your own thoughts and whether they are helpful and realistic is the first step. We can then challenge and ultimately replace these unhelpful thoughts with ones based on the evidence, not just our (often misguided or plain wrong) perceptions – after all, what we think is what we feel

Be honest with yourself. What is it you truly fear?

The easiest person to deceive is ourselves. Find out what it is that you fear and accept it without criticism or embarrassment. Identifying your real fears is the only way to beat them, however strange or downright silly they are. We are judging all the time, usually based on what we think other people will think of us (how crazy is that!). No one is perfect…

No one is perfect. Trying to be will cause way more damage than good. Procrastination will only make things worse.

The fear of failure can often become our default behaviour without us even realising. Living in this social media and digital age failure has never been so public. We find ways to procrastinate instead of meeting the challenge head on. Aim for excellence not perfection and stop being so damn hard on yourself! (I like to reference Sir James Dyson at this point. When he invented his first Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner, which hit stores in 1993, he spent 15 years creating 5,126 versions that failed before he made one that worked. He’s now a billionaire and calls himself a Professor of Failure).

And finally…

Getting out of your comfort zone takes guts. It’s something that goes against all our natural instincts. There are no sabre tooth tigers ready to ambush you any more. The only ambushes are those we've created ourselves.

And if you need any further convincing just think back to the last time you came out the other side of your comfort zone.

Pretty good feeling wasn’t it..?

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