Forget Everything and Run
From the news, internet, social Media, our televisions to our Political Conversations, present Civil Wars across countries, Environmental Destruction, Nuclear War Threats, Biological Disasters with the addition of Historical and Religious Predictions and Astrological Timing, we are overwhelmed, flooded with messages of fear. Today, Humans feel more afraid of the world and our neighbors than they have in decades. Though, this fear is not good for us. In fact, according to neuroscientists, such as; Kerry Ressler, Kay M Tye, Joseph E. Le Doux, and among others; "Fear is killing us."
What is Fear?
According to Catherine M Pittman, MD; Fear is a chain reaction in the brain. It begins when faced with a terrifying stimulus. From sharks and kidnappers, to facing an insecurity or an unknown viral pandemic, when faced with this stimulus, your body prepares to protect itself from danger. After the threat is recognized and perceived, The Adrenal Glands release hormones; Cortisol and NorAdrenaline, Adrenaline, which cause you to feel panic or anxiety. These feelings can trigger an increased heart rate, tense muscles, and increased body temperature. At this point you’re entering the Fight-or-Flight mode, where you’re ready to do anything and everything to keep yourself safe.
Anatomically speaking this chain of reactions begins in the portion of the brain called the Thalamus, which receives signals from the body's senses. From there the thalamus sends a signal to either the amygdala or the prefrontal/sensory cortex. The path these signals take depends on what kind of stimulus the thalamus is responding to. In life threatening situations; such as being threatened by a serial killer, or being attacked by a wolf, your thalamus will alert the amygdala, which will trigger emotional responses to your hypothalamus, signaling the adrenal glands to rush hormones; Adrenaline and Cortisol into the blood, so you run away from danger.
The second path is chosen when the situation is not life threatening. When you see something that is scary, but you are not in immediate danger, such a spider on your wall, or seeing something terrible on the news, your amygdala, will send a signal to the prefrontal and/ or sensory cortex, in which will alert the hippocampus for comparison to past threats in your memory center. If it realizes that the frightening stimulus is not life threatening, your senses are heightened to a superhuman degree in which triggers fight or flight.
These responses are helpful, although the speed and complexity of them can be detrimental to our nervous system, and the health of our body as a whole. According to Medical Doctor, Lissa Rankin, "Fear predisposes you to illness and makes recovery difficult."
This is why it’s extremely important to learn how to overcome fear in life
Even after recovering from a perceived or actual threat, the brain stores details of that particular stimulus - smell, taste, sound, etc,- in your long term memory. Thus, when a similar stimulus shows up, your body responds the same way. This is known as "fear conditioning".
This kind of conditioning has an effect on your memory as well as your body, causing you to constantly feel anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, etc.
This of course accelerates ageing and even premature death.
Fear has been shown to interrupt processes in our brain that allow us to read nonverbal cues and understand information presented to us; such as thinking before acting, regulating our emotions,
and acting ethically.
Fear impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, because we view life from a negative perspective by thinking things will go wrong before they’ve even begun. This can lead us to being susceptible to more aggressive emotions
and impulsive reactions.
No matter if you’re wondering how to overcome fear of people or how to overcome your fear of public speaking, there are ways to work through this. One of the best ways is to learn how to overcome fear spiritually.
Face Everything and Rise
"Love, faith, and pleasure are preventative medicine and highly effective treatment."
- Medical Doctor, Lissa Rankin
Constantly, being filled with messages of fear, can cause negative reactions to your body and psyche. Although, you don't have to accept them. You can train your body, your mind and yes even your spirit, and beat fear.
When your body relaxes, the sympathetic nervous system completely shuts off. The hormones which damage the body; cortisol and adrenaline, drop and stop being released into the bloodstream. This is where the parasympathetic nervous system takes over, and the immune system flips back on, so that the body can continue its natural self repairing process. Your mind, indeed, can heal your body. "This is not some New Age Spiritual Metaphysical Thing, it's simple physiology :) "
You can train yourself to think positive, and switch your mind from being fear based, to love based.
"Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom"
- Victor E. Frankl
The process of overcoming fear, and any particular memory associated with it is called "Fear Extinction".
This involves creating a new response to the fear stimuli. Meaning, making positive connections to the thing that scared the S%&T out of you. For example: If you see a spider on the beautiful canvas wall in your home, and you start looking at that canvas wall without the spider on it every day, your fear response can be rewritten. Choosing to see the positive in that memory as opposed to the negative which scared you (in this case the spider), and caused you fear. The Amygdala associates the memory with the freezing response, training it to be associated with something less horrifying than the spider.
When the amygdala rewrites your memory, you are free of fear. You control your response to fear, the fear does not control you. This can also be known as Self-Efficacy.
"Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to influence events that effect one’s life and control over the way these events are experienced".
- Psychologist ; (Bandura, 1994).
How to Overcome Fear
1. Waking up and being Aware
Before you can overcome your fear, you need to wake up to what is scaring you. You need to identify it, and become aware of it, to be able to set yourself free. It is easy to become attached to your thoughts to a point where you feel they are real, but they are not. You do not identify with your fears, but you can observe them through awareness.
2. Asking the right Questions
Start asking yourself, where the fears stem from, and why your thoughts produce these types of fears. How does the fear make you feel, where in your body do you feel it? How are you reacting? Observe yourself and what is happening.
3. Being Present
Acknowledge if you are in fact centered. Are you living in the future, of what is to come, but has yet not passed? Or are you in the now, are being. Do you recognize where you are and what you have in this very moment? Most fears are produced by time traveling through our mind to the "What if’s" and "how's".
It is important to release and express your fears and emotions on paper. Writing down what is happening in your mind and how this fear makes you feel, allows you to see the situation from an objective perspective, not to mention if it's rational or not. It also allows you to release the thoughts instead of them circling in your mind and affecting your body as a whole.
5. Self care
Doing activities that are good for your body, mind, and soul will help you relax and turn off the center in your brain that causes the fear. Eating healthy nutritious food, stretching your body, exercising, doing house chores, reading a good book, taking a nice bath, getting 8 hours of sleep a night and talking to your loved ones. This will not only feed your body with positivism, you will boost your immune system and physiological positive responses.
6. Meditation and Breath-work
The way we breathe impacts our stress levels, thus focusing on letting go of what we cannot control, and putting yourself in a relaxation state, breathing slowly and with awareness, allows your body, mind and spirit to relax, be at the moment and let go of all attachments that keep you from feeling peace and contentment.
Write down three to five things that you are grateful for. By recognizing the blessings and the beautiful gifts that you have in your life, seeing that you are in fact abundant. Recognizing the friends, the family, clothes, water, food, love and laughter in which you have in your life, will really help put events into perspective. You will recognize that you are not alone, and you will be more inclined to be in the now, present, and being.