Fear is one of the most powerful emotions governing our lives. Its voice is familiar, rising from somewhere deep…
(Door slowly creeks open)
If only it were Adele’s angelic voice beckoning from the other side. Fear is that Boogeyman we have that pushes its big, ugly thoughts onto us. (We know…what a sneaky brat!) That voice creates panic, it snowballs your thinking and makes you believe irrational situations that feed anxiety.
Think of all those times you followed directions from that voice.
The Boogeyman kept you from raising your hand in class—what a stupid question. Its voice stopped you from asking someone out—he’s too good for you. Are you still dreaming about backpacking alone to Europe? Forget about it! What if you get kidnapped?
The Boogeyman has a way of veering you off course. In our workshops, it’s not uncommon to hear us talk about ‘The Road to Barstow’. For anyone who’s ever driven from Southern California to Las Vegas, you’ll know that Barstow is a dismal town where travelers stop for gas, pee breaks and where weary truckers spend the night. (Sorry Barstownians!)
When we let the Boogeyman’s voice direct us we end up in a Barstow-esque place that’s unfulfilling and nowhere near where we intended.
Fear is such an extreme emotion that whether it’s real or not, is irrelevant. Once fear arises you either freeze, bolt or fight. But somewhere between your fear and your reaction is a space. That space is where you and The Boogeyman need to sit for a talk.
Most of us were never taught to acknowledge and approach our fear. No one ever taught us how to handle that punk in our head. We’re sure no one ever told you that your Boogeyman could also be your friend.
We at Productive Learning invite you to put the kettle on, grab your favorite mug and make yourself comfortable. Sitting with your fear means acknowledging it without judgment. It means reminding The Boogeyman that he’s a biological, evolutionary component. It means asking your fear if it’s warranted or reactionary. It means questioning its validity: is it really true?
Before you can possibly overcome fear of anything or anybody, you must first understand it. Figure out where it comes from, why you’re hanging on to it and why you think it’s real.
This is what a conversation with your Boogeyman is really about.
When you don’t confront your fears they can take over your life in very subtle ways, including your body. Fear really messes with your physiology.
Fear triggers your body to respond as if you’re under attack. You sweat instantly because your nervous system thinks you’re going to overheat as you fight. It triggers shortness of breath. Blood leaves your stomach and head and goes into your arms and legs readying you to run. Your body shuts down things you don’t need, including your immune system. The adrenal glands go into overdrive. Platelets that flood through your blood become clogged and sticky.
It’s as if Armageddon has broken loose inside you. Oh! Did we mention this all happens in the first five seconds?
When you live with fearful thoughts you create chronic stress.
Neuroscientists at the University of California at Berkeley discovered that stress is linked to long-term changes in brain structure and function. They discovered that chronic stress and elevated levels of cortisol can generate more overproduction of myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons than normal. Your thinking, computing, and decision-making can be severely impacted.
Stress is so powerful that it triggers your DNA to miscommunicate with healthy cells. Science is showing how stress triggers hormones to act abnormally such as triggering unhealthy levels of cortisol. Cortisol is not only associated with aggression, depression and abnormal mood swings but also headaches, insomnia, and weight gain. It can interfere with your body’s natural immune response, leaving you susceptible to illness like fear-related disorders and metabolic disease.
Fear-related disorders—namely, anxiety and depression—affect 40 million adults in the United States aged 18 and older. For extreme cases, scientists are using advanced technology to treat fear in people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) or extreme phobias.
There are some fears that will trigger instinctual reactions, for example, if a tiger’s behind you, you’ll probably run. But most fears are framed within your daily existence, sustained by a myriad of beliefs that don’t serve you.
So, what will you do with your fear?
Rather than pushing your Boogeyman back in the closet—or as in Eminem’s case under the bed—learn to dominate its voice.
If you’re one of the 40 million adults letting fear stop you, we invite you to join us this spring. We’re offering an amazing class where you learn how to convert fear into excitement.
We dig deep into your subconscious fears. We guide you through conversations with your Boogeyman and show you how to convert your fear into a tool for empowerment. Our tools teach you how to manage the stress induced by fear.
“The Fear of…” Half-Year workshop begins in April and you can sign up here.
Begin this year with a new, empowering relationship with your fear—your Boogeyman.
Remember that ALL fears, regardless of their origins, can be diffused. Once you’ve mastered how to do it, The Boogeyman can’t ‘boogie-oogie-oogie’ you into sitting out on your dreams anymore.