The human brain is hard wired to protect itself against frightful and anxiety-inducing situations. We will do anything to keep ourselves from falling prey to the all-consuming captor that is fear. But we can also retrain our brain to embrace challenges and face our terrors. By identifying and facing our fears, we are free to lead lives that are controlled by self-awareness and love.
Often, the scariest part of any situation is the physical and emotional reactions it evokes, not the situation itself. The discomfort of sweaty palms, breathlessness, paralysis, and even light headedness are enough to make us want to avoid what unnerves us. So we avoid. And the longer we engage in avoidance, the more limited our life becomes. Each time we run away from a fear-inducing situation, we miss out on an opportunity to rewire our amygdala (the part of our brain that controls fear) and teach ourselves to react differently.
So the best thing we can do is face the fear. Prove to ourselves and our brains that most of the scary things we worry about are not likely to happen. When a child expresses a fear of monsters lurking under the bed, we raise the blankets and show them there is nothing there. We should do the same for our own fears. Ride the elevator with a trusted friend or loved one and see that the doors open at each floor and we don’t plummet mercilessly to the pits of the earth. Ask the boss for a raise and find your own capacity to demand what you deserve. Each and every subsequent time we get in the lift or have that conversation our amygdala will have a less pronounced reaction until it doesn’t even register the fear at all.
Taking small steps to gain control of our fears means that we will be less anxious. And the less anxious we are, the more we can enjoy life, embrace positivity, and be in control.