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Is there anything to fear about fear

Is there anything to fear about fear?

Is there anything to fear about fearFear’s a feeling many of us would lump into the ‘undesirable’ category.  We’ve all felt it but would rather not feel it too much thanks very much.  But what if we didn’t categorise feelings into good and bad – what if we just called them all ‘information’? So what could fear be telling us?  Linda Kohanov has a great way of looking at the messages behind feelings.

Fear calling – is anyone home?

The message of fear is ‘intuitive, focused awareness of something that is a threat to our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well-being’.  It is telling us to identify the threat and decide what action we need to take to move to a position of safety – that doesn’t sound like something to be afraid of – it sounds vital to our survival!

It doesn’t mean you have to run every time the hair on the back of your neck stands up – it just means you need ask yourself if you need to take action.  This could be gather more information before you move ahead, move ahead but at a slower pace, change direction slightly, set a boundary or sometimes get the hell outta there.

Are you brave enough to be scared?

Our social conditioning can give us a hard time around fear – ‘scaredy cat’, ‘get hard or go home’ and ‘fear is for wimps’ and other thoroughly unhelpful macho insults.  So is it cowardly to feel fear? I actually think it’s very brave to admit you feel fear when you are likely to get ridiculed for it.

If you don’t listen to it you can never get the wisdom it holds. There’s a funky saying ‘what you resist persists’ (wouldn’t want to have to say that quickly after a night on turps…). So if we resist fear how does it persist? Linda reckons it intensifies into a number of feelings – not surprisingly none of them very pleasant.

Fear on steroids…

Would you like to upgrade your fear to a dose of worry and anxiety?  Or maybe even panic and terror?  Or would dulling your senses culminate in dissociation (cut yourself off from the sensations of your body) work better? If that’s not to your nervous systems liking then we could just go for confusion.  Emm, now you mention it facing your fears here and now is sounding more and more enticing.

I’ll have ‘fight’ thank you waiter

Our nervous systems have their preferred default – mine is ‘fight’. This means I get really focused on a solution eg. research, comparison of options etc – information gives me comfort.  I also like a dollop of ‘flight’ which comes in the form of numbing through busyness (it’s a warning sign when I start doing lots of housework…).  My husband is more of a ‘freeze’ man where he becomes immobilised into procrastination.  You will have your favourite too – do you know what it is?

Travel once, travel well

Our feeling will nag us, but once they feel heard they back off.  Lean into them.  If you imagine leaning into fear is a bit like driving to the shops to get something you really need. If you turn back half way you will just have to start all over again.  It’s better use of your energy to just go the whole way once and get the message your fear holds and come home to emotional balance.

If you choose not to listen when fear has something to say it will only increase the volume – no one likes to be ignored when they’re only trying to help. So next time fear comes and whispers in your ear don’t spiral down the rabbit hole of self-judgement or metaphorically clap your hands over your ears and say ‘la la la la – I can’t hear you’ – just take a moment to listen.  Your fear is on your side.

Please share with your friends – no need to be fearful!

2 UpSurge Coaching Motivation

What get’s you out of bed in the morning?

UpSurge Coaching MotivationDo you know what motivates you?  A lot of people think its money.  But money is just a symbol of energy exchange – you can’t eat it, cuddle it (well not entirely true – Uncle Scrooge from the Donald Duck cartoons used to) or have a great conversation with it (pretty one sided at best…). Are you more motivated by the anticipated pay-off (sense of satisfaction etc) of doing something or the anticipated consequences (shame, criticism etc) of not doing it?

My system is nervous

Motivation is a fascinating topic and I think we are motivated by love or fear.  But what’s the cost of motivating yourself with fear rather than love?  I like to look at this from our nervous systems point of view – so let’s have a little science 101.  We have two modes:

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) – home of fight, flee or freeze

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) – home of rest, digest and repair

Our nervous system is controlled by our subconscious brain so we can’t tell it what to do with our conscious thoughts – which is great in one sense – what if we forgot to tell our bodies to digest – could get very messy… In another sense it is tricky as we can be flogging our bodies with a chemical cocktail of adrenaline and cortisol without conscious awareness.

Perception rules

Modern life means we have far less physical threats (I haven’t ever been chased by a sabre-toothed tiger) but we often live in a SNS dominant state due to ‘perceived’ psychological threats. I say perceived because what constitutes a psychological threat is as individual as your fingerprint. If you are terribly shy then walking into a public space is ‘perceived’ as a threat, but if you are an extrovert it is not. If you don’t have a loving relationship with your body then swimming at the beach is hell etc.

In our image obsessed culture we are often taught to prioritise what we look like over who we are so this really primes us for SNS dominance. Our nervous system hasn’t kept pace with the changes in our way of living so doesn’t know the difference between physical and psychological threat therefore it reacts in the same way to both.

Run Forest!

What’s this got to do with motivation?  Heaps, because threats create fear. If we are motivated by the fear we are inviting our nervous system to ride the fight, flight or flee train.  Unfortunately going through life running on our SNS we are also shutting down our creativity and higher thinking skills.  It’s a chemical thing – our body is busy keeping itself alive so it deprioritises writing fabulous fiction or an extension to the theory of relativity.

Motivation smog

Being motivated by fear is akin to using fossil fuels.  It depletes our natural resources, leaves toxic waste in our bodies and blocks us from coming up with cleaner alternatives.  Don’t get me wrong – fear as fuel can be very potent.

I spent the first 40 odd years of my life being motivated by the fear of not being enough – constantly perfecting, performing and pleasing (as Brene Brown so nicely puts it).  It got me a first class honours degree, a high paying job and world travel – can’t fault the payoff but now I’m working through the hangover… a hangover that includes letting go of people reactions and focusing on how something makes me feel.  It can take a bit to ‘un-numb’ when you have spent years denying your ‘feel-sense’.

Motivation Biofuel

So what’s the alternative? Were The Beatles right – ‘love is all you need’? Life feels very different when you come at it from a place of love.  Your decision criteria changes dramatically as does your nervous system response. The rest, digest and repair PNS branch of your nervous system is your ‘safe’ place.  Safe to be yourself – all of your awesome self.  You are free to do what you do to express your unique skills and talents without any comparison to anyone else.

What you think of me is none of my business

You can educate, entertain and inspire people without worrying about others reactions (emm bye bye  stage fright) because you love what you do and you aren’t living to please someone else – you prioritise INTERNAL rather than EXTERNAL feedback. That’s the beauty of being motivated by love – you can get over yourself because it’s not about you – it’s about what you want to contribute to the world – you become the delivery person.

Taking our fuel example – love is biofuel.  It works with your body and enhances your well-being without the side effects.  The fastest way to switch from SNS to PNS is through slow abdominal breathing – and it’s FREE!

Hey, hey, you, you, get off of my cloud

What about the real world with school fees, mortgage payments and food bills? Yep, I live there too not in UpSurge Utopia. What if you don’t know your unique talents and skills? What if you do know them but no one wants to pay you to share them? Good questions.  But I have a couple for you. Do you really want to live in fear? Do you want to survive or thrive? The only person who knows what makes you thrive is you. Go inside for the answers rather than take a poll from the crowd.