I would like to follow up and elaborate on the previous article Don’t Let Stress Control You! In the previous article, I stated that stress induces a fight or flight response. Fear is the culprit. It creates stress and without it, fight or flight would not exist. Fear and stress have a direct correlation.
When you look at it closely and start to analyze its catalyst, stress is always induced by fear. Breakdown stress and you find a foundation anchored on fearfulness. Sometimes it can be obvious but it can also be discreet. Fear, for some people, is ever present.
Just to give you a quick example, at your office sitting in the cubicle beside you is somebody you don’t get along with. This person conjures an anxious feeling when you cross paths with her. Even if you don’t notice or just discount that you are in a stressful situation, fear is the instigator. You start to imagine and assume how events will unfold. Usually those images that run through your mind are negative and you anticipate the worst.
You’re going to meet someone for the first time and you’re not really certain how they’re going to react when they see you. Your heart starts beating faster, your palms get wet and your stomach turns on you. All of this is your fear of the situation. You have no idea how the meeting will evolve. Fear wasn’t check at the door, so now your body is turning on you. All because of this emotion that we pay little attention until it’s right in our face.
Unchecked by fact, negative behaviours set in. Many behaviours are driven by fear and fear always drive negative responses. The emotion of fear triggers an automatic reaction. When in fear you don’t think clearly and what comes out of your mouth is instantaneous without any thought. You don’t think or weigh the words you’re about to say. You act out of fear and just throw yourself at whatever you think you need to do without even thinking about it. All decisions based in fear are always made quickly and irrationally.
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” – Seneca
The emotion of fear triggers automatic reactions. Your mind is irrational in those instances. You mind and body is adjusting to how you’re perceiving your surroundings. It wants to escape as quickly as possible. There is no time to think and you react on instinct. Fear transforms your body to escape the imaginary threat. I use the word imaginary because nothing bad is going to happen. It’s all in your mind. The emotion of fear alters your perception. The brain interprets that co-worker as a tiger and says to the body, RUN.
There is a way to avoid living in perpetual fear. To do this, you need to start to focus on what you can control. I know this is something you often hear. Focus on what you control, not on what you can’t control. Put your energy and attention on what you can control and let go of what you cannot. But this is a reality. Your fear is constantly waiting in the wings for an opportunity to take over. When you allow it to do so, negative outcomes and behaviours arise.
When you keep your eyes glued on the TV screen watching the news, you are letting fear draw your focus on negative comments and negative events displayed in front of your eyes. Repeating this daily only contributes to reinforce a false sense of insecurity. You become even more fearful and your decision-making is more irrational.
Instead, become the gatekeeper of your mind. Be the one that decides what goes into your consciousness and don’t let anything based in fear trespass that barrier you create. Remember that fear is an emotion generated from your perception of the environment you are in at the moment. Change that perception and focus on what you control. Fear and stress will not take root in your mind.
In this time of uncertainty accept the fact that what is happening around us is not in our control. What is in our control is how we react and perceive this crisis will greatly contribute to the positive impact of the outcome. Take the time to make intelligent decisions without the emotion of fear.