Fear is one of 4 BASIC Emotions – the others are; joy, grief and anger. (I call them happy, sad, mad, scared.)
Real (authentic) fear has a clear source and motivates clear action. A zombie jumps out from the bushes?
Fake (inauthentic) fear is a blanket anxiety or worry that paralyses instead of mobilizes. The darkness. The haunting music. The general atmosphere of suspense while wading through the halls of a haunted house...
Authentic fear activates your instinct to stay alive. The zombie jumps out of the bushes? You will most likely fight or flee. You may even drop to the ground- ‘play dead.’
Unfortunately we are a society plagued by inauthentic fear. Living in the concrete jungle with all of its stressors keeps our fight or flight trigger constantly on alert. Whenever your brain perceives a threat, it does not distinguish between real or imagined threat, you will go into some form of fight, flight or paralysis. Think suspense-filled haunted house hallway. You are just waiting for something to jump out at you. Imagine what that does to you over time.
So what’s a regular, fun-loving, evolving monster to do?
Once it is established that you are not in mortal danger (no real life zombies trying to kill you), you can get on with the business of deconstructing the haunting anxiety of regular life.
1) Thoroughly research your fear. What, if anything is threatening you?
On a much more subtle level; what don’t you want to know? Facing up to something in your situation that needs to change in order for you to move forward in your life can be very scary.
2) Feel the fear. The only thing worse than fear is the damage suffered when you’re afraid to feel it. There will be an initial reaction to whatever is scaring you, and then a resistance to feeling scared, which increases anxiety, which further increases resistance, and so on.
3) Accept that you’re going to feel scared many times in your life. It is impossible to know what’s ‘around the corner.’ Our imaginations are great and wreak havoc on our survival brain. (Remember, it can’t tell the difference between real or imagined fear!) Don’t let anxiety prevent you from experiencing a full life.
4) Make fear your ally. Fear is the raw material from which courage is manufactured. As you move through life – which is a series of overcoming obstacles and expanding boundaries, you’ll notice that fear is never absent. You’ve heard the phrase ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway?’ That’s the truth. Once you've researched as much as you can, and reduced the threat to your life as much as you can, there will come a time when you must take a the leap. Do it.
5) The Serenity Prayer. Accept the things you cannot change. Find the courage (help, resources, tools) to change the things you can. I also like Byron Katie’s precept: Things are either; 'Your' Business, ‘Their’ Business, or God’s Business. The only business you can rightfully be in and change is Your Business.
As you push through the fear and anxiety that appears as scary, possible zombie-like shadows in your way, you will become stronger and more resilient. Quite possibly your life will become extremely exciting as your bravery grows. Who knows? You may one day become so fearless that zombies will run from you!