Why are some people able to overcome their fear of some things and other people can’t? Phobias control some people’s lives, it freezes them and prevents them from moving forward.
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Others can jump out of planes and fall through the sky, but they’re afraid to speak to a group of people.
What stops a person from pursuing their ambitions and dreams?
One of the first places I looked for answers was in Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich.” He explains how the following Six Basic Fears prevent people from taking action;
- Poverty – Napoleon Hill says that the fear of poverty is just a state of mind. There are a lot of happy people who are poor, and rich people who are miserable. It’s your state of mind and probably the desire for materialistic possessions. Mr. Hill also says that poverty is the most destructive of the six basic fears and list six symptoms of poverty, indifference, indecision, doubt, worry, over caution, and procrastination.
- Criticism – Isn’t there enough criticism in the world today. It seems like every time you turn around you’re being criticized. When you think about it, do the ones closest to you criticize you the most? You would think that they would encourage you the most, but sometimes that isn’t the case because they’re dealing with their own fears. Now, if you have kids, how have you criticized them?
- Ill Health – Here’s hard pill to swallow, Mr. Hill states that 75 percent of all people who visit a doctor is a hypochondriac (at least in 1937). He also states that the fear of a specific illness may actually bring it on. The human mind can either build or destroy.
- Loss of Love from Someone – Mr. Hill says this may be the most painful of the six fears. If you’re afraid of losing your mate do you start to become over protective and jealous? The more you fear it the more you protect it and the sooner you may achieve it.
- Old Age – Age is a mindset, but also physical. I don’t think you need to fear old age, you just need to prepare yourself for it, physically, mentally and financially. Mainly physically, if you focus on that, the other two will follow.
- Death – Why fear it, it’s going to come. I believe that the only time you need to fear death is if you fear the other side (if you believe in that). I believe that as long as you live by the Golden Rule you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. When your purpose has been served then it may be your time to go, I just plan on finding new purposes.
When I look at the list I think the leading fear is the fear of criticism. Who wanted to pursue their true passion but never made it public because they feared criticism?
Here’s the cycle of despair that starts with the fear of criticism. If you’re afraid of pursuing your dreams due to being criticized you’ll be stressed out which will cause ill health leading to the loss of love due to being on the edge and unhappy because you won’t be living your true passion. After you loss someone you love you are lead into poverty because of alimony and child support. The stress, loss of love and ill health will lead you to old age quicker and death before your peers.
How can some people be able to do something and others can’t, they’ve learned how to turn fear into excitement. Think about it, you can control your fear and it can be your biggest teacher. One of the keys is to understand how fear happens.
The three brain components that involves processing fear is the brain stem, amygdala and neocortex.
The first part, and the oldest, is the brain stem, otherwise known as the reptilian brain. The brainstem coordinates motor control signals sent from the brain to the body. The brainstem also controls life supporting autonomic functions. The brain stem doesn’t generate emotions and its primary function is to survive.
The amygdala part of the brain isn’t very large, but it can control your life without you even knowing it. It controls many of our emotions and motivations, particularly those that are related to survival. The amygdala is involved in the processing of emotions such as fear, anger and pleasure. It acts like a hard drive for your experiences and controls your emotions and fight or flight instincts. It produces the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which causes physical reactions to fear.
The key to overcoming fear is to recognize those symptoms, the neocortex portion of the brain gives us the ability to do that and is only found in mammals and in humans accounts for about 76% of the brain’s volume. The neocortex consists of grey matter surrounding the deeper white matter of the cerebrum cortex and is involved in higher functions such as sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and in humans, language.
Once you recognize the symptoms of fear you can take control of them and that’s where the neocortex comes in handy. Stop the fear by asking yourself why you’re acting the way you are. Why are you getting angry, sweating, and breathing hard? It could stem from you doubting your own abilities. Stop and take your pulse, breathe deeply, and say, “Isn’t it interesting that my body is reacting like this?”
Treat fear not as an enemy but as a signal to bring you awareness. Once you start to evaluate why your physical reactions to fear is happening you learn to control the fear and turn it into excitement.
Doesn’t sky diving, roller coasters and sharing your knowledge to large groups of people sound exciting?
When you take doubt and worry from fear, does the emotion turn into excitement?
What do you fear?
Face it today to start living your life to the fullest.
If you overcame one of you fears, please share how you did it.