How to Make Fear Suck Less

by jane arie baldwin

Whether it’s a jolt of adrenaline that sends chills down your spine or a sudden freeze that stills the breath in your lungs, fear sucks. The anticipation that something awful is going to happen looms on the horizon like a ship about to drop into an unknown infinity. This old album illustrates one of the many terrors that humans used to imagine as real.

Fear’s not all bad. Simply put, it is the reaction that occurs when we feel threatened. In the Pleistocene, fear kept us out of the mouths of saber-toothed tigers. Fear senses danger for us so that our body can react, putting necessary protections in place for the survival of the whole human organism.

The problem is with chronic fear. The act of planning for and thinking about the future every single day puts our minds in a loop of overthinking. Thoughts focus everywhere but the here and now. They’re either remembering the past or creating hypotheticals about in the future, setting up scenarios to avoid risk and failure. Soon we can no longer remember what it feels like to be living without a sense of urgency.

Chronic fear is very good at hiding in plain sight. It exists in the frenetic pace of life hitting us at all levels — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The phrase “I’m crazy busy,” is an excellent red flag to indicate that we are not responding to fear but holding onto it.

NO MORE HESITATION

Those things that are crazy busy in your life are going to stay that way, just as the carousel keeps on spinning long after the children have gone. Shifting out of the overthinking loop will not happen on its own. The mind is moving so fast all the time in so many directions that you feel very active, even when you are lying down and feigning sleep. Overthinking is working its smoke and mirrors magic on you, making you believe that plotting and planning are protecting you when the truth is that you are stuck in hesitation mode.

“Hesitation sends a stress signal to your brain, it wakes your brain up. Your brain goes to work to protect you, to pull you away from something that it perceives to be a problem.” — Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule

You are seven years old on the high-dive again with a hundred water-treading friends egging you on from the pool below.

You are at the edge of a cliff in a hang glider, waiting for a gust of wind.

You are a deep sleeper hitting the snooze on the “Crazy Busy” alarm, one more time.

IT’S YOUR TIME.

At the snap of a finger, one decision can unfold an experience into a whole new set of awareness and observations. It’s difficult to imagine that the opposite of crazy busy, sitting in stillness, can elicit the butterfly effect, until you practice it. Slowing the mind can open and expand the parameters of the current thought bubbles that so aggressively fill the space.