USE YOUR FEAR AS RADAR

USE YOUR FEAR AS RADAR

How many times has THIS happened?

You have a really crazy idea that you absolutely, deep down in the pit of your stomach, KNOW will be totally RIGHT for you.  You want this.  You irrefutably NEED this!

You get a truly awesome limited-time chance to make it happen and it is imperative that you do this thing right now, or else….well, you just keep doing whatever you’re already doing.

Right then fear will rear its ugly head.

You get the shivers running up and down your spine.  All the hair on your body — on your arms and behind your neck — stand up.   Sweat pours out of you.

Your eyes narrow down and your nostrils flare as you get really, really focused and all the Boogey-Man thoughts take over your brain.

Your head aches because all of your internal sirens are wailing and every one of the alarm bells are bonging and clanging.

Maybe you start trembling.  Maybe you want to cry.  Maybe you want to throw up.

You get tense and you are all ready to rabbit away…run-run-RUN!  Or you freeze in place, paralyzed by all the noise in your head.

panic-attack
“Panic Attack” by James Barkman via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
(Yeah, yeah, I know.  I’m exaggerating a bit.  Sometimes you’ll just get a squirmy feeling in the pit of your stomach, nervous foot-shuffling and a really dry throat.  Other times it’s just a teensy twinge of tingly nerve endings rather than a full-blown panic attack.)

WARNING!  WARNING!  WOOT!  WOOT!  WOOT!

I’ll bet that every time you were on the verge of doing something that was different than what you had done before — every time you tried to push the edges of your comfort zone and every time you tried to go somewhere or do something that you really wanted to do or faced something that was new-to-you and most uncertain — all this trauma-drama showed up like a scary pop-up.

It is a given:  Fear will show up EVERY time you’re growing or going in the direction of your dreams and every time you have to face something new or different or other.

Fear always shows up when you are getting ready to undergo any kind of change — anything that disrupts the life you’ve known so far.

It doesn’t matter that the change is going to bring good things into your life or stop bad things from happening.

It’s Change-with-a-capital-C, and with change there will always be that feeling of risk.  There will always be the feeling that you’re stepping out of line somehow.

out-into-the-world
“Out Into the World” by Aaron Hawkins in Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Basically, the smarty-pants who study such things say that all these body-symptoms of fear are like the blip-blip-blip of the standard-issue radar equipment that’s part of your internal early warning system.

As you go through your day, your mind always scans ahead, looking for things that are out of place or different.  When it detects something that is not-the-same, your brain responds by sending out these fear signals throughout your body.

Fear puts you on alert.  This is fear’s job.  It gets you ready to respond to whatever is coming out of the ethers at you.

Fear is a signal that you are moving into a situation that is different than what you’ve experienced so far.  It is invaluable when you are facing situations that are dangerous and/or life-threatening.

(If you’ve survived for a while in the world, you’ll probably be able to recognize those dangerous or dicey situations easily enough and can work on figuring out how to avoid, mitigate or arrest any developing debacles.)

It becomes problematic, however, when the fear-signals trip you up on your way to your own kind of better.

WHEN THERE’S A TIME-LIMIT

The worst thing about this automatic response-readying system we call “fear” is that it can screw up your ability to take an appropriate action at the time when it’s really needed.

There are times when you are one critical choice away from accepting an opportunity to move forward and reach towards whatever goal you’ve set and that choice is in-your-face right NOW.

freedom
“Freedom” by Padraig O’G via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
If you let the fear-signals stop you, the chance for change will dissipate.  It just won’t be there anymore.

Maybe that’s okay for you.

But, what if it’s not?

In one of his blog posts, productivity and marketing guru  Seth Godin once pointed out, “By the time the fear subsides, it will be too late. By the time you’re not afraid of what you were planning to start/say/do, someone else will have already done it, it will already be said or it will be irrelevant.”

Godin advises that you can use your fear-signals to guide you in your actions.  Rather than shying away or coming to a dead stop, he suggests that you go towards that thing that’s scaring you.

He says, “The reason you’re afraid is that there’s leverage here, something that might happen. Which is exactly the signal you’re looking for.”

If you can make a practice of moving forward to meet and deal with your fear of the opportunity you have been given to make progress in the direction you want to go and to do what you really want to do, then maybe you’ll be able to find more and more ways to keep on doing that.

Maybe you’ll even grow enough to be able to keep on doing it over and over again until you make your dream become real.

go
“GO” by Ludovic Bertron via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
The quintessential go-for-it guy, Richard Branson, once said, “Don’t let fear hold you back from achieving your full potential…I know I’d rather look back on life and say ‘I can’t believe I did that’ than ‘I wish I’d done that’.  How about you?”

HOW TO GET MOVING WHEN YOU’RE SCARED

The thing you have to understand, though, is that your body is really lousy at math and logic.

Rational thoughts and piles of paper spreadsheets, goals, schedules, and lists of pros and cons as well as to-do lists constructed in your more lucid moments do not help make the fearful, fearsome blip-blip-blipping stop.

Being all prepared and everything won’t get you moving.

clutching-her-foot
“Clutching Her Foot…” by Christopher via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
This YouTube Video, “The Secret to Stopping Fear and Anxiety (That Actually Works) was published in 2017 by motivational speaker Melanie “Mel” Robbins.  She is an on-air commentator on CNN, a television host and a serial entrepreneur.

Her book, THE 5-SECOND RULE:  Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence With Everyday Courage, goes into detail about the many flavors of fear, anxiety and other negative thoughts.  It presents assorted techniques and strategies that allow you to stop fear and anxiety from tripping you up.

The technique Robbins demonstrates in her video is one she developed to help people understand that the kind of fear you experience when you are trying to do something outside your own comfort zone can actually be reframed as “excitement” and can be used to push yourself forward.

“The secret isn’t knowing what to do – it’s knowing how to make yourself do it,” she says.

Here’s a poem:


CALLING OUT CAMP GIRL

Camp girl, camp girl,

Those tiny, tiny dreams of yours are

Way too small for the wings you’ve grown.

Time to spread those wings out now,

Make the world your own.

 

Camp girl, camp girl,

You’ve been growing big inside.

Playing small won’t cut it now.

There’s no more need to hide.

 

Camp girl, camp girl,

Winds are calling your name, and

The old fears don’t hold sway.

Now is the time…

It’s your turn to play.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Radar Star” by eskwebdesign via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

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27 thoughts on “USE YOUR FEAR AS RADAR

  1. TJSchlenker says:

    Can’t say I’ve ever run across a website like yours. You know why I like it? We don’t “need” it. What you share with us isn’t “necessary”. 

    What art is? Yet how one-dimensional and flat our humanity would be without a view that lifts our eyes… and our spirits.

    Re-framing is a great example of how we can accomplish so much more when we practice mindfulness and controlling our minds, instead of letting it lead us on a cranial leash.

    Fear can be a protective device, but too often it’s only a door closing on potential. How much better when we can at least view the other side before DECIDING to shut it.

    Don’t know why, but I feel like writing you this:

    The arrows point

    The eddies swirl

    our furrowed swaths

    our cut-out worlds

    The stone, and core,

    is passed right through

    to rest on waters

    Lotus-strewn

    Submerged beneath are

    masks made mute –

    their quaking, gritting

    screaming… moot

    This breath. 

    This breath.

    (                                     )

    (                        )

    Hello.

    1. Ah, TJ, thank you!  Thank you for the visit, thank you for sharing your thoughts, thank you for your poem.  Lovely!  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again!

  2. Hmm, I’ve never thought of fear as that way, nor using it quite like that. Definitely something I’ll be thinking about in the near future. I, like most people, have much fear in my life, but it’s just because of a bunch of change in my life. 

    I’ll have to try those things that lady in the video talks about, and see if it really works. How have they worked for you? Were you able to use to conquer your fear, and get out of your comfort zone?

    1. Hey Cyrus:

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  

      I have tried riding the “fear” on through one of the very worst of my panic-attack inducing situations.  My friend conned me into standing up in front of a crowd of people in a theatre and do a reading for her “Mama Monologues” production.  

      Every time I used to get up in front of a large crowd, my mind went blank and I could not speak.  I was frozen.  My friend (who talked me into doing the thing) helped me get through the fear part by distracting me and getting me so annoyed that when I stood in front of that crowd I just did my piece without a hitch.  It was the most awesome thing.

      (Also, my friend was lucky that she was a speedy little thing because I was ready to kill her.  Ah, well…now I am not so scared of speaking in public.  It’s a good thing!)

      Please do come again….

  3. Hi, Netta!

    As someone who’s a fan of Seth Godin’s writing, I greatly enjoyed reading this post.

    On my part, I believe fear is essential although it sometimes stops us from seizing the opportunity to make a change. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the fact that fear sometimes stops us from going the wrong way or doing things that might not benefit us.

    The most difficult thing that most of us face is to make a choice. What do we fear? Is it worth moving forward and overcoming our fear? Is it worth pulling ourselves and shutting the door?

    These are the type of questions that I’ve never been able to answer.

    1. Hey Princila:

      Those surely are the toughest questions when it comes to fear.  Perhaps a thing you might like to try is to just notice your fears…every time they happen.  Notice what triggers them.  See what is likely to stop you from moving forward.  

      Fear is always an honest emotion, I think.  There’s no arguing with the fact that you’re scared when you’re standing there shivering.  Still, if you can notice what stops you from moving forward, you may be able to figure out that some of your fear is due to things like wanting to avoid being embarrassed or looking like a fool or being “different” or standing out.  

      Then maybe you’d like to ask yourself: “So…is being embarrassed going to kill me?  Is it going to shrivel you up into a nimnul nothing that I will never be able to show my face again?  

      Keep exaggerating the possible consequences.  Then ask yourself whether those consequences are real.  

      Maybe you’ll keep on being scared, but it’s a funny thing.  Every time you confront that fear, the next time it’ll be a little bit easier to handle.  Maybe eventually you’ll be able to actually do something to move yourself towards that thing you’ve been dreaming.

      Please do come again….

  4. I’ve been a fan of Mel Robbins for many years and her 5 second rule really resonated with me, and I have tried that technique on myself and it was very effective in helping me to get moving. She is correct that knowing what to do is easy, but the hard part is making ourselves do it. Fear is why it is so hard.

    I believe fear works from the subconscious part of your brain and to overcome that fear you’ll need to find techniques that uses that same subconscious power to work for your benefit.

    1. Hey Kent:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again….

  5. Fear will show up every time you’re growing or have to face something new.  This line really resonates with me. 

    I truly believe the most successful people are the ones that get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you can learn to expand your means then doing new things that will help you grow becomes easier to do. 

    Thanks so much for sharing 

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Mike.  I’m pleased the post resonated with you.

      Please do come again.

  6. I love this idea of using fear as radar! 

    I think I’ve focused a lot in my past on getting rid of fear, rather than using it as a tool for guidance. 

    I love your point about fear showing up whenever we’re about to undergo some Change with a capital-C! This really resonates with me right now as I feel like I’m in the midst of a major transition heading into 2020. 

    Thanks for sharing! 

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Tucker.  You are right.  We humans do have a tendency to shy away from fear, to do everything we can to get rid of it.

      I think that’s kind of self-defeating.  The very best things in my life now were things that scared me badly because they were such a departure from a very small way of walking.  

      It sure is a heck of a lot more fun now!

      Please do come again.

  7. This article made me think how I deal with fear. 

    Actually, I can’t remember having any of those feelings described here such as sweat and tremble anytime in my life. I was nervous when I had my exams at the university but never scared too much. I don’t think I am really scared of something.  

    But I had a sort of claustrophobia that was manageable but uncomfortable because I never knew when it would show up again and if it did there was a risk I would faint. 

    Last time I fainted at Vienna airport before flying to Spain 2 years ago. I flew a few times since then and was OK so I hope it’s gone.  

    Thank you for this poem, I love it. 

    Now it’s the time.

    1. Lenka, thanks for your visit and for sharing your story.

      It sounds like the “claustrophobia” you suffered was a body-reaction to something that really IS inherently scary, I think.  Heck!  You’re getting into some tin-can that weighs a heck of a lot more than you and it’s supposed to fly way, way up high without falling down.  Right!  Sure!

      The thing about body-reactions, the smarty-pants say, is that they very often don’t have words.  (Your right brain does not “talk” to you.  It has no words.)  Fainting sounds like a good way to get your attention, it seems to me.

      The fact that you’ve flown a number of times without fainting may mean that your body now has a reason to believe your head when it says, “Yup!  We’re going to fly now.”

      Bodies only believe empirical evidence.  You gotta SHOW, not tell.  Maybe getting in some experience with flying helped with that.

      Please do come again. 

      1. The thing is that I’ve flown a few times without any problems, then I fainted in a cave and since that time I was uncomfortable in closed spaces, airport halls included.

        It confirms your theory, my body had this experience and until I’ve shown it different, it was repeating the behaviour.

        Thanks for taking your time and trying to explain that.

        1. Thanks for the validation, Lenka. I’m glad it helped.

  8. Hi Netta

    I am a great believer in fear being a good motivator, as without it we can make stupid mistakes that can cost lives.. Fear is necessary as without it we can make foolhardy decisions. 

    The flight or fight syndrome is so important, as long as we decide by our head not our heart. 

    The importance of conquering fear cannot be understated, otherwise, we will never do anything as the risk  is too great. Unless you are prepared to fail then you cannot succeed.

    I also believe that fear stops us from being too brazen, as it gets us to think and act in a more reasonable way. 

    As ever I really enjoy reading your poetry.

    Thank you

    Antonio

    1. Antonio, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I agree with most of what you say (especially the part about being “too brazen” — something I tend to have to watch out for in myself.)

      However, I do think that besides fight and flight, there is one more body-reaction that is a lot more problematic — the freeze.  Sometimes you can get so scared you just can’t move in any direction and then there’s the probability of getting run over by a truck or something….either physically or mentally.

      For this reason, I think it is wise to make fear your friend.  Pay attention to what your body and your head is saying, but listen most of all to your heart.  It’s the heart that can help you fly, I think.

      Please do come again.

  9. Hello Netta, your articles are always lovely and I must confess, I had great and kinda fun time reading through this very one which encourages me to use my fear as a radar. 

    I totally agree with all you’ve said in this post especially the fact that when we have this feeling of fear deep down within when we want to do or say something, it is a great sign that something magnificent is about to happen. The ability to use this feeling of fear as an encouragement really matters.

    Your poems are really nice

    I celebrate you!

    1. Hey MrBiizy:  Thanks for the visit and for your kind words.  I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts.

      Please do come again.

  10. Parameter says:

    I cannot just but look for your subscription button and subscribe for future write up from your desk.  The same magic you did in the last mail I read from you when you spoke about the elevator pitch, same you have done now talking about fear. 

    I will no longer let fear stop me. I will call it excitement and not fear. I will constantly pass the message to my brain and overcome my fear with my anchor thought.

    Thanks a million.

  11. Hi Netta,

    That video of Mel Robbins is very enlightening. The 5- second rule and the anchor thought, that’s very true.

    Fear is real and sometimes so hard to overcome especially if you have bad experiences.

    But of course we really need to overcome it to move forward and to enjoy more in life.

    Just like your poem, we have to grow up, overcome our fears and just do those things that will help us grow and enjoy life.

    Marita

    1. Marita, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m pleased you found the post helpful.

      Please do come again.

  12. Well said Netta! I was lucky enough to experience Mel Robbins first hand and was blown away at the concepts her words forced me to look at within myself.

    Being in a business that is all about stepping out of the comfort zone, I have literally experienced aversion based on fear and screamed against it to push past it. It is real and it will keep you from your dreams.

    Thanks for reminding us that life can be so much sweeter on the other side!

    1. Tracy, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do appreciate it.

      Fear can, indeed, keep you from manifesting your dreams. Remembering that there are tremendous rewards for pushing past your fears really do help.

      Please do come again….

  13. petergeorge5666 says:

    There are somethings mentioned in that video which I have not seen or should I say experienced as a fear before.

    I love looking at things from different perspectives.  Maybe at leisure I give it a try and see if it is the same as mentioned in the video. I want to ask how the feeling was like? 

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, petergeorge5666.  I think fear (no matter what it is a fear OF) evokes the same body reactions as the ones featured in the video.  

      As long as it isn’t life-threatening — like being surrounded by hostile forces or stuck in the situation that is physically harmful — anything that gets you anxious can be reframed.  It is the difference between going into a full-blown panic attack and bouncing around on your toes and going, “Whoo-whooooo!  Coolness!”  

      Best way I can describe it.

      If you do get into life- or physically harmful situations, it is always a better move to figure out how to get outa there as fast as you can.

      Please do come again.

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