HARD-WIRED TO SURVIVE -Fears that Derail Performance & Development

Whether we are experiencing mild anxiety or terror, fear‐based emotions cause us to behave in ways that ensure our physical and psychological survival. We accept our physical fears much more easily than we do our psychological ones because we are taught that our fears make us weak. Most of our problems occur when we focus on getting rid of our fear or avoiding the situations that are likely to cause them. Fears are instinctual, biochemical events that occur in the brain and body whether we want to them to or not (or whether we believe it or not!). It is connected to our strongest instinct ‐‐‐ to survive. It is the release of hormones into the blood stream that gets the body ready to fight, take flight or to freeze. Our senses become more acute and we are poised to protect ourselves at all costs. We can’t just tell ourselves not to be afraid; it’s an all or nothing type of reaction! As this is the case, isn’t it odd that we believe we should be able to grow out of or control

this important instinctual, biological process who’s sole purpose is to help us survive?


Whether the cause of our fear is real or imagined, our physical reaction is the same. We perceive a threat and react instinctively to survive. Fight, flight or freeze. Our bodies are stimulated and we go into    a    heightened    state    of

arousal, ready to run or do battle. Most fears rise out of perceived threats; things that aren’t even real. Research shows that as much as 80% of what we fear never happens. Yet, we allow our lives to be deeply affected because of the scary stories we tell ourselves. Fear, not desire or passion, is the strongest emotional


motivator we have. This means that when we have a choice to do we want, which frightens us versus to do what we know and is safe, we will opt for safety letting fear win out.


It is only when we acknowledge, examine and understand our fears that we can release ourselves from their grip. This is why it is so important to look at what gets in the way of achieving our hearts desire or why we are talking ourselves out of doing what  we know we need to. Fear is the most common reason people have for staying stuck in their lives. So, if we don’t know what we fear or deny that we actually have them, we don’t have a chance of achieving our potential.


We mistakenly think that if we tell ourselves we won’t be afraid, and then we won’t. We can belittle ourselves or call ourselves names; tell ourselves we are stupid for feeling afraid; or try to alter our brains with caffeine,

alcohol or drugs to numb the feeling, all to no avail. We need to have the experience of fear and then decide whether this feeling belongs in the past or the present; whether it is alerting us to a real danger or not. For example, an employee may immediately become gripped by fear every time their manager calls them to their office. Despite evidence to the contrary, the employee still acts as though the threat is real, strengthening         the         automatic

reaction. The manager tells the employee not to be afraid,  the employee works to shift from their automatic responses, nothing changes.