To Our Primitive Fear Brain, Radical Change Feels Literally Life-Threatening.
Fear, as the “fight, flight or freeze” response, allowed our delicate species to stay alive in primitive times, saving our precious asses when humans were considered a gourmet meal for large toothy predators.
It was handy keeping us alive in the primal forest, but in modern times it can backfire, keeping us in hiding behind closed doors, hearts racing, trying to avoid the toothy tigers roaring only in our minds.
This automatic response speeds up our heart rate, quickens breathing, contracts muscles, and gives us a rush of the “GET THE HECK OUT OF HERE” hormones that jack us up to avoid becoming a human tiger snack … or signals us to freeze in blank terror behind the nearest bush until the ravenous meat-eater moved on.
Chronic Fear Can Keep Us Stuck.
Fear only cares about our survival.
The part of our brain that tells us to run like hell away from the tiger, also called the lizard brain, is the same primitive fear brain that tells us, “Avoid at all costs all the scary things!” … even the imaginary ones happening only in our minds.
When I was dreaming about leaving behind my familiar routines for the uncertainty of nomadic life, which I wrote about in Wild Women On The Road: A Women’s Guide To Nomadic Freedom In The Modern Age, my fear brain just about lost it … screaming, “DEAR GOD YOU WON’T BE SAFE, YOU HAVE TO STAY LOCKED UP SAFELY INSIDE AND WHAT ARE YOU THINKING YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!!!”
To the primitive fear brain, change equals death!
So How Do We Tame The Tiger?
Keep in mind that fear’s only job is to maintain the status quo in the present, which it does by warning us of all the potential danger in the future.
If we mindfully examine the probability of the things we fear most, we’ll find chances are they will NEVER happen. And when the unexpected does come up, we learn we have more than enough coping skills, some we never knew we had!
Feeling Fear Doesn’t Mean You’re Going The Wrong Way.
Fear is a different sensation in your body than “gut instinct.” Following your intuition keeps you safe, following fear keeps you stagnant.
Instead of following the path of fear, go after the dreams that pull you like a magnet!
Stay With The Magic Of What Lights You Up Inside!
Stay focused on your dreams, instead of your fear. Tell good stories about your future.
Anytime we have a major decision to make, remember that fear is a terrible advisor.
Fear Distracts Us From Living Fully In The Present Moment!
Ask yourself, how do you want to live? Are you living a rich life, or instead, spending your precious time immersed in some imaginary disaster happening only in your mind?
Courage Is Doing The Thing You’re Intensely Afraid Of, IN SPITE OF THE FEAR.
When I first started out cross-country I got lost, had panic attacks on the highway, and got kicked out of a Walmart parking lot at midnight in a huge, strange city.
It’s a wonder I didn’t give up and quit. Living on the road is no joke!
My fears have gotten the best of me at times, but every time I was scared, I found solutions and learned valuable lessons.
We can never predict what’s coming next, but we have a choice – live in fear of what could happen, or choose to imagine the best. It takes some practice, but we can learn to put brakes on the runaway fear train in our heads.
This isn’t to say I’m not cautious and prepared. Part of managing my fear is doing practical things that keep me as safe as possible.
Remember, Courage Isn’t The Absence Of Fear. It’s Taking The Leap, Even When It Looks Absolutely Crazy!
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”Terence McKenna