If You Weren't Afraid, How Would You Feel Instead?

Here's the deal

Your brain is amazing. When you were born, your brain was only programed to recognize fear about two things - loud noises and falling. As a baby, being afraid of these two things helped to ensure your survival. Then through observation and a bit of trial and error, you learned to take on the fear of the others in your tribe as they taught you (in both spoken and unspoken ways) about survival within the tribe and out in the larger world from their own experiences and points of view.

Occasionally, we pick up fear because we experienced something that we don't want to experience again.Other times, we pick up fear from the way we were taught to think or feel about something. Either way, fear is largely a learned behavior.

This is extremely good news! It means that your fears can be unlearned, or at least neutralized, so as not to trigger anxious thoughts and disturb your natural sate of calm.

Your fear about public speaking, creepy crawlies, the personal safety of you and your loved ones, the unknown, being judged, not having enough, disasters of either the natural or man-made variety, being alone, things changing or things never changing, death, these are all things you picked up along the way.

  • What are some of your biggest fears?
  • How did or does your tribe contribute to your knowledge about the issues at the root of your fear? (Example: If you are afraid of being alone, where did you learn along the way that being alone is something to be afraid of?)
  • How do your deepest fears about life impact your day-to-day ability to remain calm? (Example: Fear of being judged by others can be rooted in a deeper fear of unworthiness.)
  • If you weren't afraid of it, how would you feel about it instead?

Asking yourself these kinds of questions is a way to face your fears and hold them accountable for their position within you. Sometimes fear can be healthy and needs to stay in place in order for you to actually survive, so keep the ones you truly need. And don't just casually walk up to a grizzly bear.