Changing The Way We Look at Fear – An Empowering Perspective

The perspective that will actually benefit our lives is to see fear as our great protector. All this time we’ve seen fear as an enemy, as something to be rescued from. Fear is not our enemy and we don’t need to be rescued from it. Fear is actually tying to rescue us from potential danger. Without this loving protector, I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.

I’m sure you’ve heard many people in life (especially in the self-help world) say that fear is bad and that it’s not acceptable to experience. But having this perspective around it just breeds more suffering. We will always experience fear, without it we wouldn’t be able to keep safe.

See how it feels to always want to escape from fear. When we internally try to bury fear by fighting against it or wanting to feel different, we just pour more fuel onto the fire.

This may seem counter-intuitive but the most successful approach in my opinion is to embrace the fear, go with it. Give up the fight with fear and make it your friend, not your enemy. When we internally surrender and drop our judgements and resistance towards it, we see fear for what it truly is – An emotional alarm system designed to keep us safe from threat.

It’s only what we create through our thoughts that keeps the fear alive when it doesn’t need to be. Fear like all emotions is fleeting. It’s suppose to pass. Otherwise emotions would be called e-standstills. They are energy in motion. We see something funny on the TV and we experience happiness. when the funny program is over, this happiness passes by and we go back to balance. We something sad and we emotionally respond with sadness, maybe our eyes begin to water. Once there is no reason to be sad, it passes and we go back to balance.

Fear works in the same way. Something threatening pops up, we respond with fear. We experience all the physical sensations (which are not harmful) that prepare us for fight or flight. When the threat has gone, the fear passes, the sensations wear off and we go back into emotional balance.

It’s the stories we tell ourselves which keeps the feeling of fear alive in us. Even when there is no reason to experience it. You see emotions are only supposed to be experienced when our senses detect something in our environment as either sad, funny, joyful, fearful etc. Emotions are generally transitory. They come, they go. However, we can keep them in place when we overthink and tell ourselves stories.  This is how feelings come about.

Feelings are about due to our perception of an emotion.

Emotions and feelings are two different things

Below is an excerpt I found to be really useful. It points out the difference between emotions and feelings. While we usually think that the two are the same things, they’re actually not.

This is taken from:

“Emotions play out in the theatre of the body. Feelings play out in the theatre of the mind.
Emotions are lower level responses occurring in the subcortical regions of the brain, the amygdala, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortices, creating biochemical reactions in your body altering your physical state. They originally helped our species survive by producing quick reactions to threat, reward, and everything in between in their environments. Emotional reactions are coded in our genes and while they do vary slightly individually and depending on circumstances, are generally universally similar across all humans and even other species. For example, you smile and your dog wags its tail.

The amygdala plays a role in emotional arousal and regulate the release of neurotransmitters essential for memory consolidation which is why emotional memories can be so much stronger and longer-lasting. Emotions precede feelings, are physical, and instinctual. Because they are physical, they can be objectively measured by blood flow, brain activity, facial micro-expressions, and body language.

Feelings originate in the neocortical regions of the brain, are mental associations and reactions to emotions, and are subjective being influenced by personal experience, beliefs, and memories. A feeling is a mental portrayal of what is going on in your body when you have an emotion and is the byproduct of your brain perceiving and assigning meaning to the emotion.  Feelings are the next thing that happens after having an emotion, involve cognitive input, usually subconscious, and cannot be measured precisely.”

This means we can interpret fear differently. This is great news for us. This means we can interpret fear differently from how we normally see it. We can create an empowering perspective which is actually the truth. How awesome is that. So when we assign a different meaning to fear, we can stop fuelling the feelings of fear and thus transcend it. We go on from fearful to fearfulness.

We don’t have to fight against it anymore. We don’t have to try and suppress it either. All we really need to do is change the way we perceive fear which in turn will mean we’ll feel differently about it. We will give it a new meaning which will actually allow us to suffer far less instead of seeing it as harmful or something that is hostile and out to get us. This is such a disempowering perception to have.

Of course we will still experience the normal and natural emotion of fear when something threatening shows up in the external world. The alarm systems will still activate. We will still experience a racing heart, sweats, dizziness, muscle tension etc etc. Remember this isn’t dangerous, it’s just an alarm system. All we can do is ride this emotional response like the waves and wait until the external danger has been removed.

But we don’t have to create a perception around fear that creates psychological suffering. It’s the  negative stories we tell ourselves about fear which creates the unnecessary suffering. Learn to see it as a protection mechanism against threat because that’s what it truly is.

Lawrence Gregory

Hi I'm Lawrence. I write about what has helped me heal/recover from high anxiety and panic attacks. Everything I share here comes from personal experience and what I've learnt from others. I write with honesty and with readers in mind, so you'll never see me share something I haven't had any experience with myself.

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