“Never, in his brief cave life, had he encountered anything of which to be afraid. Yet, fear was in him. It had come down to him from a remote ancestry through a thousand lives. It was a heritage he had received directly… through all the generations of wolves that had gone before. Fear! – that legacy of the Wild which no animal may escape… So the gray cub knew fear, though he knew not, the stuff of which fear was made”. Jack London
This fictional portrayal contains more than a few grains of truth for human beings as well (Panksepp).
We all feel fear in one way or another and even though it is inherited in human beings as in other mammals we feel it after being hurt. We learn it during our lifetime.
Fear is a survival mechanism for all mammals but in our modern life has become a chronic state of humanity.
The topic I would like to discuss here comes from the saying of president Franklin D. Roosevelt in his speech in March 1933 when he advised the American nation “ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance”.
Does it ring any bell for you? I would say for any and each of us.
Change is one the things we are fearful most. And because we are not properly informed we get trapped there. And as result… We don’t move ahead. We get stuck!!! We blame others- everything outside us without being aware and paying attention what is happening inside us. Let me explain a little bit more here…
Brain is a very complex but for my opinion a very simple organ if we know well how it function. And I don’t mean scientifically here. `We don’t need to be a scientist…
A very easy and simple way to explain is through Dr. Evian Gordon who talks about Brain 1 – 2 – 4 type as follow:
1 – To protect us. So, main function of the brain is to keep us safe.
2 – Ways of operation through Conscious and Subconscious
4 – Functions: thoughts, emotions, feelings and self-regulation.
In this article I would like to focus on primary function: To protect us.
Everything that happens outside of “familiar zone” of the brain is perceived as threat. And this is an amazing mechanism for survival. This was the only way we survived as human beings; from cave age to today’s civilization. The problem is that our brain receives and perceives the same way any information without being aware to identify as a threat or opportunity.
When this happens (in the part of brain that is called Amygdala – the fight, flight or freeze response mechanism) we panic, feel fear and our brain moves from cognitive state of thinking (Frontal lobe) to emotional state (Limbic area in the brain). We feel fearful and shut down without being able to recognize the rationality or irrationality of it.
But, our ability to be aware breaks the cycle of fear. As human beings, we have access to something called “consciousness” that in fact is very tiny compare to the vast of unconsciousness and does happen in frontal area between left and right side of the prefrontal Cortex.
When we feel fear, that just happen on unconscious level we must bring awareness on the fact that how fear is running our lives and what our fears are. We need to stop and reflect: What is happening? Why do I feel this way? What fears do I feel most? How can I overcome them?
When we become aware, we have the power to break free of our conditioning and make choices about what we do, feel, think and say. It is not an easy process consider all the years you are running on that pattern. But we can change it.
In next article I will speak more about the concept of fear and I will share with you a simple exercise about to deal with fears. Until then, have a great week ahead.