Why Feeling Afraid Is Actually A Good Thing
Why we don’t want to become fearless:
First, Fear is useful. It has a function in our lives: to keep us SAFE.
Second, we want to learn from our fears.
We want to understand the positive intention of our fear is, what the fear is protecting us from, and how we are going to grow beyond that fear.
Being afraid doesn’t mean you are weak or less brave. It means you are human.
There are two types of fear: physiological (as in the instinctive fear not to cross the street if there is a car driving towards you) and mental (as in the hypothetical fear of what might go wrong if you do x)
The most common fears are: Loss of Autonomy Separation/Abandonment/Rejection Humiliation/Shame/Worthlessness
These correlate with our need for love, safety, and belonging.
Nobody on this planet is immune to fear. Fear is ingrained in our genetic make-up. We are programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
In simple terms, this means that your brain often interprets change as equal to pain.
✖️ it tells you that CHANGING your diet equals discomfort
✖️ it tells you that CHANGING your workout regimen is too hard.
✖️ it tells you that CHANGING your relationship is too much work.
✖️ it tells you that CHANGING your lifestyle is too inconvenient.
✖️ it tells you that CHANGING your habits is too uncomfortable.
In short, this part of your brain (called the critter brain) doesn’t care if your intention to change benefits your well-being or if endangers it. As far as your brain is concerned, ”changing” means danger; danger means pain, and pain means possible death. Ouch!
Our need for belonging is threatened. This is terrifying because our critter-brain is saying “you’ll die.”
Another example is when when a relationship ends, but also when a relationship deepens. A relationship to a partner, your job, or yourself.
Next time you feel afraid to change a habit, remember that feeling fear is part of the process. Your brain is programmed to shut down your motivation in order to PROTECT you.
Then comes the frontal cortex which is the more developed part of our brain that is responsible for our choices, and actions.
Being fiercely dedicated to pursuing your goal doesn’t mean you are going to feel motivated all the time or that you won’t experience fears or doubts.
Remember that fear is a self-protective mechanism that mother nature has created for us in order to keep us alive. Similarly to working out, your brain needs time to adjust to doing the extra mile/pushing one more rep, and feeling safe at the same time.
Small changes create great results because your brain doesn’t see them as threats.
On the contrary, if you push too hard and too fast, your immune system shuts down, and this leads to emotional and physical overwhelm. Slow and steady always wins the race!
So why feeling fear is a good thing? Because it is a signal that you are doing something outside of your comfort zone, and that you are stepping into the unknown. No great inventions would have been possible if we were not afraid to challenge the status quo and change our ways of thinking and being.
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Next time you feel afraid, congratulate yourself for the bravery to try something new and evolve from your old “you.”
~ Keep showing up!