Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fear comes in many forms. All of us fear something or the other. Some of us are afraid of darkness, some fear the unknown, some are scared of heights, while some fear making mistakes – the list is pretty endless. Regardless of what the fear is, the way our body responds to that fear is strikingly similar – a chill in the spine, planted feet, tensed body, eyes wide open, a hollowness in the pit of the stomach, unconscious sweating!
But, how is it possible that one feels afraid of darkness, while another might feel absolutely normal in the same darkness? Or how is it that someone is afraid of heights while another enjoys extreme sports like bungee jumping or sky diving? The point for us to think about is: Where does this fear originate from? Does it come to us from such situations/outer environment or is it something sitting inside our body generating this fear for us?
Truly, if we think about it – the origin of all our fears is our own ‘Brain’, that over a period of time has been programmed to warn us about anything that is remotely unsafe. Under any such situation our brain takes control of our body and sends us this little reminder in the form of reactions. If we fear something or some situation, than how can we stay safe? Our brain gives us very simple solution here. It says ‘Just avoid the situation’. If you are scared of heights, stay away from all the high places, if you feel unsafe speaking in front of a crowd, immediately you get the message, “Stay put – don’t make a fool of yourself”!
Is there anything wrong in that?
To answer that question ponder this: A much quoted study on the anatomy of fear says that all humans are born with only 2 fears:
- Fear of falling
- Fear of sudden sounds
Where then, have the other fears come from?
It is quite revealing to know that all the other fears we have picked up – are from either our own or from others’ experiences. That means I might not be actually afraid of something, but because my mind wrongly perceives it as unsafe – its’ instructions to my body might make my body react in such a way as to tell me that, “Yes, I am scared of it”!! The fear cripples you – and restricts you at the same time!
But how exactly does one get over such fears? Let’s play out a situation…..
Just imagine you are on vacation with your best friends, all of whom are thrilled about trying out Bungee jumping! But there you are, sitting in the corner and already worrying about how to get out of the situation, because you say you are scared of heights! The next morning you see all of them excited & ready for the great adventure. At that point you hear two voices in your mind – there is one that says “You are missing something. Just go and try it out. You won’t DIE” while the second voice says “ARE YOU MAD? DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. YOU WILL BE KILLED”
Despite all the noise in your head you somehow decide to do it. And, you jump… You are free falling, you feel the strong wind on your face, and everything is happening quite fast in front of you. Your body bounces a couple of times on that rope…. And that’s it. Now you come down. You hear your friends cheering madly for you. There is a blood rush, there is an adrenalin rush and you feel like you are on top of the world!
The moment you stand on your feet – safe and sound, you tell yourself – “That was not so bad afterall!” And right after that, a new programming code goes back to your brain that says “I am no more afraid of heights.” Once you do it a couple of times more, your brain accepts it entirely and stops sending you fearful signals when you stand even higher than your limits. This is the moment when you feel, you have broken through your fears & limitations!
We run a workshop called The Alchemist Challenge, where we do just this. We help people break through the self-limiting beliefs that constrains them, that holds them back and makes them believe that they are powerless. We make people overcome their individual fears and live a powerful life where they believe they can reprogram their own minds – and hence their own lives!
What would happen if you could challenge your brain like this?
What would happen if you could erase all your fears?
What would you attempt to do if you knew You Couldn’t Fail?
Please share your thoughts with us.