Let’s get things straight, having fear is not something we should be ashamed of. It's a completely natural coping mechanism residing in our reptilian brain and in many ways, it’s what enabled us to be here today.
In simple words, we experience fear when we believe the future will bring us more pain than pleasure. What’s interesting about fear is we only experience it when we think about the future, BUT the future doesn’t exist until we take the time to imagine it!
So simple yet so hard to remember as a concept! Definitely one of the key aspects to keep in mind on how to improve mental health.
Our fears tend to arise from stored imbalanced perceptions, which inevitably impact the way we make decisions. For example, I could say “I am not going to take risks anymore because of what happened recently, I felt so ashamed, I just can’t bear to experience it again”.
But how do you know for certain that taking a similar action will bring the same results? While it’s important to learn from our mistakes (pain can be a great teacher at times), it’s key to acknowledge our brain experiences pain twice as strongly as pleasure, leading us often to avoid risk and seek safety.
We experience different kinds of fears in our life whether it’s the fear of being rejected or of not being recognized enough, but my “favourite” fear of all, fear of the unknown for how things will turn out.
Haven't we all experienced a bit of this fear? It's one that really holds us back as it impacts the way we live our daily lives, making us unable to appreciate the present moment and all that life has to offer us.
Instead, when we learn to trust and welcome the unknown for all it can bring us, we become more resilient, positive and adaptable. Developing such a positive outlook is a skill that can be practices by anyone, and it's actually one of the 4 pillars behind the science of optimum wellbeing.
So how can you practice trusting the unknown and generally fear? We GOT YOU COVERED :)
At 3SSENTIA we developed "Trust in the unknown", a short 2 min meditation experience designed to help look at the unknown as an infinite sea of possibilities. Try it out for yourself here.
The beauty of this powerful approach is that we are able to transform feelings of anger, frustration, grief into ones of calmness, hope, and belief. We can turn our cheek and say, “Thank you fear for making me better!” Now that is a great way of taking care of yourself and one of the best ways to manage stress.
Being able to look at things from a different angle has an immense impact on our personal well-being and effectiveness: science shows when we believe in our choices, we set higher goals for ourselves and ultimately are able to achieve our goals faster.
As the great Nelson Mandela once said, “I don’t lose, I either win or learn”.
With that in mind, we must also learn to put things into perspective and realize not everything is within our control.
Imagine writing an urgent email when suddenly a power cut impacts the whole street. I get angry, frustrated, I am putting a lot of energy into my state of negativity: an infinitely more productive approach would be to let go and re-channel my energy into what’s within my control, a great tip on how to focus better :)
“When we can’t change the outcome, we are challenged to change ourselves” Viktor Frankl
Part of this change comes with the realization we can’t determine or predict all future outcomes. While it’s good to have self-belief, it’s equally important to welcome our inability to have full control. When we become obsessive control freaks, we are acting again from a place of fear.
When we learn to free ourselves from what we can’t control, we are truly practicing self-love. We should learn to open up and welcome uncertainty, as life is rarely a ride without bumps. Easier said than done, I know!
So how can turn fear into our ally? Talk to her. Start by giving her name, as the process of “labelling” is scientifically proved to help reduce our initial level of arousal. Invite her to sit down and grab coffee together, ask her why she’s here, understand what can you learn from her and how it can help you progress in your journey. It's one of the most powerful stress management techniques out there!
When we move from a reactive to an interactive approach, fear becomes on the way rather than in the way. It’s only when we learn to deal with it peacefully that we appreciate its purpose and new avenues open up.
Fear is powerful. Use it to your advantage!
Filippo di Lenardo
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