A couple of years ago my dog was attacked.
It happened while were walking on the trail behind my house. Out of nowhere, a dog barrelled down the trail and started barking and biting my small corgi bear.
At first I thought the dogs were just having a slight skirmish, but within seconds it was obvious that the situation was developing into an attack. There was blood all over the snow, and it became clear that I might be watching my beloved canine friend being killed.
I started to scream frantically, and as I felt my fear response kick in, my energy shifted to crisis mode. Without thinking I reached my hands into the attacking dog’s mouth and pulled his teeth out of my dog’s stomach. I picked up my bleeding pup—and I ran.
I am not one to run, but all I knew was I had to get away—and fast. I held my dog close to my chest, and panting hard in the below 20-degree temperature, I ran for my life.
I felt like I was in a war zone. Everything in my body told me I was in danger, and I barely felt the dog bites to my hands. My system was saying one thing—get to safety.
I am so grateful for the fear that kicked in that day. Due to my body’s natural fear response, I was able to save my dog’s life.
Fear is necessary in situations where danger is present. While my dog was being attacked I needed the physiological response of fear to make me act without thinking about my personal safety. I am grateful for the role it played in saving my dog’s life.
Now, this week, I have been doing a lot of writing. I have been pushing myself harder in my writing, trying to put words to thoughts and experiences I haven’t been able to communicate clearly before.
In this process, I have had at least five anxiety attacks. What happens is that I am sitting safely in my office, with a blank screen in front of me, and my stomach and mind start going wild with feelings of nerves and worry. All because I am trying to write.
This is a normal response when we are trying something new. Pushing our limits makes our system incredibly uncomfortable.
The fear response that gets triggered when I am writing is simply my body trying to keep me safe, just like in the incidence of the attack on my dog. But, just because the fear is talking to me and it is an accurate response, doesn’t mean I have to listen.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” ~ Jack Canfield.
I want to write, to share my thoughts and ideas. If I listen to fear telling me I need to stop because I am at risk, then I will be letting myself down, and I won’t reach my goals.
Fear is our friend—it warns us that we might be unsafe.
However, we need to kick fear in the a*s when we are aware that it isn’t serving us. We need to be able to decipher when the fear response is real—and when it is a false alarm.
Fear is a human emotion that is not going away any time soon. We need the experience of fear so that, as a race, we can survive. But, when we let fear control us, when we let the potent sensations of being scared call the shots in our life, then our world becomes very limited.
Learning how to manage, overcome, and eventually kick fear’s a*s, is the best skill we can learn. It provides us with a more enriching life aligned with our goals—as opposed to one skimming around them in an attempt to avoid discomfort.
We basically need to get better at feeling scared.
We need to stop feeling scared of being scared, or avoiding any activities or choices that provoke anxiety or fear in our bodies.
Fear is an uncomfortable sensation. But, it is just a sensation. We can’t let every physical sensation this human organism experiences control us!
This is why, in order to kick fear’s a*s, we need to be able to see the reality of a situation.
When the sensation of fear invades our body and mind we need to use our senses to explore the reality and ask ourselves, “Am I actually in danger right now?”
Mostly, we will see that we are physically safe, in a warm room, with a fridge full of food. Most of us aren’t in a war zone and nobody is threatening our lives.
Of course, dangerous situations are real, such as when my dog was attacked. In that moment, feeling fear, and seeing that I was in danger allowed me to leverage the feeling. It motivated me to act and get to safety. Fear, when used properly, is incredibly effective.
But, if fear is simply a habitual response and not an accurate one, then we have an amazing opportunity to re-wire our brains and not be controlled by it.
This does not mean that feelings of fear will subside. In fact, they may initially become worse.
What we can say to ourselves is this: “I can see that there is anxiety in my system, but I also know I am safe. I am going to lovingly ignore the anxiety bubbling in my belly and get on with my business.”
When we override the fear response and act anyway, we rewire our brains. When we don’t let the anxiety and fear sensations control our lives, then the uncomfortable fear response will begin to weaken.
When we kick fear’s ass we are building strength and developing confidence—the best gift we can give to ourselves.
When we know it’s okay to feel fear and carry on anyway, we start to really believe in our abilities to move forward through discomfort and toward our goals.
This is the power of choice. This is how we take our lives back.
I know we are strong enough to do this.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Lieselle Davidson