You kind of know that the best way to stop being scared of something is to move through the fear…but urgh it can feel hard!
ALL the thoughts come up.
Am I doing the right thing?
Will I lose friends or loved ones?
What if I fail?
What if I get it wrong?
What if people judge me?
ALL the symptoms come up.
All the fun things.
And to add insult to injury if you’re not conscious to what’s really happening…you start to very quickly internalise it and make yourself ‘wrong’.
Which then perpetuates the cycle of ‘i’m not good enough’ ‘it’s for other people, not for me’.
There’s a big problem here though…the only way to really know any of these answers and to get through the behaviours and stop those pesky thoughts is to do what you fear.
BUT, not all at once.
Bit by bit, piece by piece.
You don’t have to jump from A to Z without skipping all the other letters in the alphabet because that will make the negative thoughts and symptoms WORSE.
I think there’s another podcast episode coming just for that statement ha! We always want to skip straight to the end!
No, no, we have to softly softly catchy monkey on this one and build a base line of safety as we move through it.
You do that by tiptoeing your way in.
You don’t have to chuck yourself at it like a wrecking ball. I mean you can. It will work in some circumstances. BUT, for most people, the softly softly catchy monkey approach is far more effective and long lasting.
Start thinking about what’s one small thing I can do to move TOWARDS my fear.
That could be finding a safe space to do it in.
An example of that which I’ve talked about before is that one of my bonuses as an affiliate for Lisa Johnson’s One To Many course was a secret squirrel teeny tiny group where it was safe and encouraged to start going live.
How much does going live hold people back in their businesses? Urgh, I see it ALL the time! They moved towards their fear bit by bit…and I have to say they’re absolutely smashing it now. It’s hard to believe they were ever afraid of it!
But another dipping your toe in the water idea could be posting a story on instagram. They’re 15 seconds and only stay up 24 hours!
So have a think about breaking it down and tiptoeing into it.
Now, there’s a reason the fear is there and it’s not because there’s something wrong with you, it’s not your fault.
It’s a totally normal, biological reason.
The brain and the nervous system does not like change. At all.
And when you’re starting or growing a business, going outside your comfort zone and doing new things ON THE DAILY everything kind of works against that.
It’s unsurprising. To start with you’re constantly in a state of being consciously incompetant…DOH!
There’s a few things at play. Your brain and your nervous system don’t like change, partly because it LOVES certainty.
And you’re not really giving it that right now!
The very definition of uncertainty can be running your own business!
So we’ve got to learn a couple of things.
Firstly how to identify when our threat response has got involved and being able to take a step back and recognise the protection mechanisms.
If you haven’t listened to the previous episode all about ego make sure you head over there which can be a big help in identifying it.
Fundamentally we want to be able to take that pause, step back for a second and observe the thoughts. First piece of the puzzle.
When we can understand that this is inevitable AND not permanent it becomes so much easier to be objective.
So much less emotionally charged.
Far less blame and shame!
But we also what to know how we can work with the brain and the body to try and give it some of what it needs to be able to take action. (I’ll focus on the brain mostly for today but remember the brain and body are in CONSTANT communication, 20% of messaging is from the brain to the body and 80% is from the body to the brain, you often feel it before you think it!)
So, first things first.
Let’s understand a little about what’s going on in our brain.
There are several sections of the brain specifically working when it comes to fear and it shuts off other areas of the brain that we need to be able to make conscious choices. Better decisions. Take action.
So without getting too technical i’m going to give you a little intro to some of these.
First, you’ve probably met your amygdala. You’ve probably heard about the fight, flight, freeze or fawn response. You’ve probably heard someone talk about saber toothed tigers when explaining it.
There are a few pieces of the puzzle that often get left out that I think it’s important to know so things start to click into place for you.
You have 3 key areas of the brain, The brain stem which is responsible for our unconscious actions. It also helps us breathe and our heart beat. It’s the oldest, most primitive part of the brain.
Then you have our emotional brain which is where you find our friend the Amygdala (it really is our friend, it does keep us safe, it just gets it a little wrong sometimes but it’s intentions are good!) It also is home to our basal ganglia (responsible for helping us form habits which are energy efficient….remember 95-99% of everything we do is unconscious…that’s where habits come into play. Hello autopilot!) Then we also have our Hippocampus which is responsible for memory.
So here you can see that the memory centre and fear centre are verrrrrry close friends! Memories stored in the hippocampus can activate the amygdala at the drop of a hat. AND chronic stress affects the hippocampus, affecting our memory.
So here, something that is important to recognise is that when you’ve REHEARSED something in the future….it gets stores as a memory. Uh oh!
Then your future memories of what hasn’t happened yet from when you’ve catastrophised and spent many hours contemplating the worst case scenario are now activating your fear centre!
You can see the issue here! (more on this when I talk about things we can do to calm this in a moment!)
Then, you have the prefrontal cortex which is the CEO of your brain.
It’s higher level functioning. It’s where you get to make the unconscious conscious and make choices and decisions.
Are you seeing how all this is slotting into place?
Your prefrontal cortex uses up a LOT of energy so the brain works to try and conserve this by creating habits, following patterns, looking for the familiar.
This is why when it’s activated all those pesky thoughts start to come in that actively stop you taking action.
So when the amygdala is activated through fear, doing anything new, stepping outside your comfort zone….your higher level functioning gets hijacked. Meaning you can’t make those good decisions. Your PFC is where you can consciously regulate your emotions.
You also have something called your Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) which is known as the error detection system…but that’s probably for another day, but essentially it’s job is to scan for errors.
That could be where your conscious wants,don’t match up with your unconscious beliefs. Meaning it’s not ‘safe’ to take action.
Ooooooh….doesn’t just knowing that make you excited?
Show you that it’s totally normal and changeable and that there’s nothing wrong with you, there’s a way through?
I love this stuff!
So i’ve obviously massively simplified it, I could talk about this for hours but it’s just SUPER helpful to know what’s REALLY going on rather than assuming it’s us…so what’s next?
You can take a step back and understand that you make perfect biological sense in these moments. Which is good.
Being able to identify and name what’s underneath that fear can take the healing to the next level.
What’s causing it to feel like life or death for your nervous system?
It could just be super simple that it’s new and you need to ease yourself in and work on creating some certainty in your brain by giving it your OWN future memories using visualisation.
Start to feed your brain all the ways it CAN work out!
See yourself already having what you want. Major strategy for overcoming fear for you right there!
But it could be an indication of an out of date belief that needs looking at that is activating your ACC and/or your amygdala.
So activate your PFC higher level thinking by making the unconscious conscious and dig a little deeper.
Have an explore with your journal and try to name the fear (which also helps calm the amygdala)
What’s the emotion? What’s the fear? Where might it have come from?
You master your fear by mastering your emotions.
Knowing how to regulate your nervous system when it’s activated. (my FREE Stressed To Success Meditation helps with exactly that!)
They’re always going to come up but mastering how we react to them is hugely important and that’s what will calm them over the long term.
It’s not about suppressing, it’s about addressing.
Understanding why it’s happening and the tools to get you through. It’s absolutely not about letting it take over causing you to not take action.
Fear is going to happen.
It doesn’t matter how much you know about this stuff, it really doesn’t.
But, the more you practice the less it will have an effect, the quicker you can move through it so it doesn’t stop you in your tracks.
Remember, you make sense!
There is a way through and all the good stuff is sat there waiting for you on the other side!
Fran Excell, Subconscious Success Mentor – Helping Business Owners Overcome Self Sabotage & Get More Done In Less Time at www.franexcell.com
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