Values of the Fearless Climber: Fear

The following is an excerpt from the book:
Grow a Pair of Antlers: The Fearless Climb to Lead Your Herd

Fear

People say our greatest fears are of public speaking and death, in that order.
But these are not the only fears we face. We have a seemingly never-ending
supply of things - real and imagined - to be afraid of. It only takes one
rogue thought to trigger a feeling of fear. Fear provokes our body’s natural
fight, flight or freeze response. Our body prepares us to either face our foe
and challenge him or to run away as fast as we can. When our foe is not
clearly defined or we don’t feel we have the option to fight it or flee it, our
mind is left with a surge of adrenaline and energy without a muscle to flex.
We become frozen with fear and begin to ruminate and dwell on our
problem. We use our brain “muscle” to try to think our way out of our
situation. If you are truly in a problem-solving mode, this is a good thing. If
you are in a situation where you are having difficulty finding a solution and
feel stuck, fear of the future can develop into anxiety. Anxiety can trap its
victim in a cycle of anger, resentment, frustration, hopelessness and
depression.

As a result, our potential to impact the world, serve others, and lead an
amazing life can be thwarted by just one fearful thought. We can monitor
our thoughts and guard our emotional energy by avoiding negative inputs,
like political news that upsets us. We can also learn to redirect negative
thoughts to focus on options and potentially positive outcomes. If change is
in our control, we can take action. If not, we can choose to just move on
with our lives. Sometimes we must simply accept a situation and not dwell
on circumstances beyond our realm of influence.

One of my fears is claustrophobia. I am afraid of small, tight spaces. I
do not explore caves and I avoid tunnels. But it’s not always possible. My
husband has season tickets to the NASCAR race at the California
Speedway. While the track was being built - long before we were married -
he bought two seats at the start-finish line and an RV spot in turn two.
When we got engaged, I called this my signing bonus! We love going out to
the races together. I enjoy the excitement and the sounds and the energy of
the people and the engines. However, I don’t enjoy the tunnel that goes
under the track. We must walk through it to go from the stands where our
seats are located to our RV spot in the infield. Sometimes, there are not
many other people in the tunnel and we can walk through in a minute. Other
times, the tunnel is packed with people and we are just shuffling through as
a herd. It only takes a few more minutes to go through, but when I see the
crowd, I feel anxiety rushing to the surface of my consciousness. I have
developed a process to help me deal with those feelings.

First, I remind myself that I am in control of my feelings - they don’t
control me. Then, I assess if I am truly in imminent physical danger. (The
answer in that short tunnel is always no.) My husband automatically takes
my hand when we enter the tunnel, so I mentally acknowledge I have
someone with me who can help if we get into trouble. Finally, I fix my gaze
ahead at the light at the end of the tunnel above everyone’s heads. By the
time I have processed all this in my head, we are almost completely through
anyway. I recommend the same steps for any non-life-threatening fear you
are facing.

1. Affirm control over your feelings.
2. Assess the likeliness, imminence and potential negative
repercussions.
3. Create or remind yourself of the plan for getting through the
situation.
4. Ask for encouragement, support or help.
5. Look for the light at the end of tunnel.

Every time I see the crowded tunnel at the track, I have an involuntary
reaction of fear. I can choose to stay in my seat and avoid the situation. Or, I
can choose to go through it and manage my thoughts and feelings until I get
to the other side. These are the types of choices we make every day and
they determine the quality of your lifestyle and potential for a significant
legacy. When you take control of your fearful thoughts and emotions, you
can walk through uncomfortable situations and enjoy the rewards of living
your life with purpose and courage.

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Kathleen, Business Coach with The Fearless Climb
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