The Worst That Can Happen

Maybe you have a dream that keeps nagging at you in the back of your mind, but you brush it away.  It keeps tugging at your heart, but you push it down again and again.  What are you afraid of?

The Fear Response
Walter Bradford Cannon worked at Harvard Medical School between 1900 and 1942, first as a professor and, later, as the chairman of the Department of Physiology. In 1914, he published a paper in the Journal of Physiology about the effects of strong emotions, such as pain and fear, on the body, specifically, the adrenal medulla. In this paper, Cannon gave us the insight about animal and human behavior that we now call the “fight or flight response.” Citing previous scientific observations that had been made by others along with his own, he concluded, “…thus the emotion of fear is associated with the instinct for flight, and the emotion of anger or rage with the instinct for fighting or attack.”

Since then, experts have recognized that adaptive behaviors in high stress or emergency situations include freezing too. So we tend to react to fear in one of three ways, fight, flight or freeze… or we might react with a combination of these.

3 Big Fears
According to the experts, there are three main emotional fears all humans have in common. See if any or all of these ring true for you right now.
Fear of being rejected or being unloved…
Fear of being misunderstood…
Fear of betrayal, disrespect, injustice…

An Exercise
Here’s a simple exercise to help you sort out what is really bothering you so you can overcome fear and use it constructively. (I use this more frequently than I’d like to admit!)

They say that the first step in overcoming anything is to acknowledge the problem. So, what you do is grab a sheet of paper and write your fear at the top of the page. Under it write this question: “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I acted on my dream?” Then write down each answer that comes to mind. Do this for each fear that comes up in your mind.

By corralling your thoughts in this way, you can consciously release the fears that aren’t legitimate. And when you see what’s left – your true, credible concerns – you can make a plan to move forward.

I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” ~Mark Twain


Angela Loeb is into self-development & personal empowerment, being awed by nature, writing, and superhero stories.

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