Using Fear to Your Advantage
Question of the Week
This weeks question is from Quora
Fear, is something we have all experienced in one form or another sometime in our life. I remember when I was a little kid I was in the kitchen at night and grabbing some snacks I wasn’t supposed to have and suddenly a large column candle we had on in there for smell goods and emergency lighting if the electricity went out suddenly fell off of its holder. Blam! The sense of fear that a ghost was about to start throwing me was the only thought I remember. That and the fact that I did an incredible Jesse Owens impression.
Another instance of me being in the full grip of fear was when I was at my great grandparent’s house. This incredible storm was booming. You could walk around the house without the lights on because the lighting was flashing almost continuously. The windows would shake when there were close strikes. It was a truly awe-inspiring event. So much so that I took an umbrella (because it was raining) and went out to watch it. As I was out in the middle of my great grandfather’s garden looking all around me as the clouds lit up and flashed and the Thunder was felt in your chest.
Suddenly I started feeling oddly light. The hair on the nape of my neck was getting all tingly. All I thought was this is weird and then maybe 20 feet or so in front of me, my the world turned white. It also got very warm, very fast. The noise was deafening. After that the umbrella was dropped and from my lips came a battle cry for the cowards. UUUUUUUuuuuuuuurgh!!! I proceeded to return to the house as quickly as possible.
Now these are two instances are an example of three things, Surprise, Stupidity, and Fear. Now the surprise of a candle falling and thinking it was a ghost could be garnered as ignorance. While obviously me standing out in an open field with a lightning rod in my hand during a thunderstorm is clearly stupidity. Both are also examples of unbridled fear.
What is Fear?
Fear is your mind’s reaction to the unknown. It is thanks to the lizard part of your brain, the amygdala, is the emotional birthplace. Well all you emotions come from the amygdala, but when fear comes into play, your lizard part of your brain actually can take control of your body. It will take full control and you run on autopilot. That is what happens when you enter the fight, flight, or freeze instincts.
Your amygdala is designed to keep you safe and comfortable. Now short of being struck by lighting or seeing a bus coming at you. These days the use of fear to run from a bear is very seldom. Yet it is still there. Most people avoid feeling fear because it is rather unpleasant and so we avoid fear as much as we avoid the bear.
I want to propose that fear can be a tool and a very handy tool to keep you not only safe but to help you become more successful.
Fear as A Tool
Now I see fear as a tool. Like every tool you can use it the right way and the wrong way. Both ways are powerful but using it the wrong way is very destructive.
Wrong Uses of Fear
Using fear as a tool to manipulate people is the common way most people use fear incorrectly. They threaten people with their jobs if it is a boss with no confidence in their leading style or of exposing a shameful event if it is by someone who is blackmailing someone else.
Fear can for a short time influence a person to do your bidding. Because fear can over rid free will it is a common tool for tyrants and dictators alike. Yet eventually people get tired of living in fear and they will fight back.
Using fear like this erodes people away it makes them less than they can be and doesn’t serve anybody even the person who is trying to control others.
How to use fear to your advantage
Now you can also use fear to your advantage and it can be used to accelerate your path to your goals and other success. Masting Kipp said it best.
Unless you’re in mortal danger, fear is a compass showing you where to go. - Mastin Kipp
As I said earlier, we avoid fear. Our amygdala wants us to stay comfortable in what is familiar. Yet when you are starting a new business or anything that is out of the ordinary we are faced with the biggest barriers around. Those barriers are fear. Yeah they may be mindsets too but often those mindsets are based in fear.
This is why when you will hear people say if your goal doesn’t scare you it isn’t the right goal. If you use fear as a compass you will soon know that you re heading in the right direction.
You can also change ho you look at fear.
Fear is excitement without the breath - Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt Therapy
The key is to breathe and make them deep breaths make your feeling scared into the feeling of exhilaration. All you need to do is breath, also you live longer if you breathe deep Daniel-san.