We all know the feeling of fear—having our heart pound in our chest and our limbs tremble as our breathing quickens. We are all familiar with these autonomic responses because everyone, at some point, has been afraid.
Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. The mechanism responsible for the fight or flight reaction is comprised of a firestorm of chemicals and physical reactions ignited by fear. Fear is an inherent part of our biological make up and necessary to our survival.
Fear is what historically kept us from sticking our hand into a lion’s mouth and presently keeps us from approaching a man with a mask and a knife. Fear protects us from injury and even death. Fear is necessary.
What happens, though, when are fears aren’t rational? Or necessary?
Public speaking is listed as Americans’ number one fear. There are those so terrified of speaking in front of a group that they sweat, shake, and are unable to coherently express themselves.
What is, however, the root of their fear? After all, there is no imminent danger to their physical being and therefore, the autonomic response to this anxiety is unwarranted and unnecessary. An individual’s fear to speak publically then becomes a psychological matter wherein perceived threat is not physical but emotional or spiritual in nature.
The person may be afraid of making mistakes, and the potential for subsequent ridicule. Although these outcomes pose no risk to the person’s physical health, the person’s feeling and the biological response to it feel as though the risk is equal to the audience standing poised with stones to throw.
We all have irrational fears. They begin as children afraid of the monster in our closet or under our bed, but what are these fears, really?
Perhaps the “monsters” are really an amalgamation of our anxieties of the unknown, our own insecurities, and the worry we have of other’s scrutiny.
Whatever comprises them, they feel real, and our fear of them is real.
The problem is that these fears when not necessary to the preservation of our physical safety often stop us from trying new things, pursuing our passions and achieving our dreams.
How many of you haven’t written the book you wanted to write or released it to the public because you allowed your fears to stop you?
I personally have avoided certain mediums on social media or speaking up about the publication of my book because those insidious little “monsters” in my mind stopped me.
So, how do we STOP the fear?
Well, we can’t ever truly stop fear because it does serve an important biological purpose. We can assess, however, the source of the fear and whether it is necessary for our protection.
If it is simply a matter of emotional anxiety and we know that we will survive the situation then we must consider if the experience is worth the upset.
So ask yourself. Is writing a book worth a bit of worry? Is having others read your work worth the distress of other’s possible scrutiny? Is feeling a bit of fear worth accomplishing your goals and achieving your dreams?
I had to ask myself these questions even quite recently, and posed this way I had to answer with a resounding, “yes!” Yes, reaching my goals is worth a bit of anxiety and even fear.
I truly hope your answer is the same.
Write on, friends.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.