At some point in your life I imagine that fear has played a part – it might have shown up in your childhood, existing as the face of a scary clown or in your youth, during school exams or final flute recitals. But as you think back and realise how your very own concept of fear, (relative only to you I might add) has come to exist over time, ask yourself, what has fear done for you?
Fear is defined as: ‘An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.’ Fear is an unpleasant emotion and occurs when a perceived threat or danger appears. This creates a biological reaction within the brain (controlling our breathing and heart rate) and organ functions – it leads us to react by affecting our behaviour, such as by running away, fighting back or freezing in place and so on – also known as the flight-or-fight response.
Fear offers us the opportunity to access more information and from this we can choose to either accept or not accept fear. So what I mean by this, is that as an individual we have control over our emotions, we can deny that information of ‘fear’ – signalled from a specific stimulus to create those biological changes in our body – or we can accept it. These sets of changes within the body that represent an acknowledgment of fear are the same regardless of the actual ‘thing’ or concept we are fearful of. So by accepting fear, we are accepting something non-existent. You can’t grab hold of fear; it lies in the future, in our doubts and concerns, in other people’s judgements and imaginary concepts over things that have not yet happened.
The funny thing is, I’m not sure how many of us actually realise we have the opportunity to deny and disregard fear. In what way does it make sense to accept it, if it is much more rewarding to choose positivity over the feeling of fear? So what if instead, you started making the decision to deny that fear, how much more positive could your interactions and experiences become? By choosing to take control of how you feel (because like being at cause for your choices, you are also at cause for your emotions), no one or no thing can force or make you feel a particular way; it’s you that is in control of your future, your choices and yourself.
President Franklin Roosevelt once said:
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
I think he was right; we fear the concept of something that doesn’t yet exist, something anticipated at that present time, something imaginary. Instead of deliberating over our fear of something that has yet to happen, I’m certain we could spend our time doing more productive things. Such as working through what the deeper cause to our fear is, asking how it is a problem and solving that problem before it becomes a fear in the future.
Like any subset of fear, failure is just a concept and if we resolve the underlying problem, we have the tools to eliminate the fear. (In fact, there is no failure, only feedback), Fear of failure works in the same way, a concept that doesn’t exist as something you can physically grasp hold of – like any kind of fear, at no point in life do you pick it up and decide to wear it, move it or shake it. Once you have recognised and accepted that fear can only bring you negative emotions: such as worry, nervousness, panic, anxiety, stress, etc. (a whole subset of negative emotions that in fact lie within the big emotion of fear itself), then you can learn to release that fear and any subsets within it. You are in charge of how you feel and although it may seem like someone else sometimes causes these emotions, only you can blame you for actuating your behaviour through your state, your physiology and your behaviour, just as we understand from the NLP Communication Model.
The first task is accepting that without realising it you have chosen to be afraid of something that doesn’t exist – something that can’t hurt you. In fact, often in experiencing the event, action or task that we thought we were scared of, we realise the thought of it was actually the real problem. And we already know our thoughts are just a frame of mind, aren’t they? By changing our mind-set we can find a whole world of possibility, choice and freedom in removing the negativity in our thinking.
From here, I could go on to touch on a whole area with values and those of us working towards or away fro
m success/failure. If you’re working so hard to avoid and get away from failure then you are not working towards the opposite to failure, which for many of you might be success. Wouldn’t it be much more worthwhile working towards something you want, rather than away from something you don’t want? You can read up on Values here.