false fear beth rogerson

I’ve talked about it on my podcast and on my blog: running away from fear only makes it bigger.

You have to get up close to that fear to shrink it down. Close enough to hug it. In fact you do want to hug it.

Does that sound like I’m asking you to hug a fire, or a wolf? If we get up close we may see that what we thought was a fire, wolf, or otherwise scary thing, is not so scary.

It might even be a false fear.

Don’t get stuck in a false fear

We fear things like fire, wolves, humiliation, failure, airplane crashes, etc. Humiliation and bear attacks are real possibilities, so why am I calling them false fears?

These are possible events. They could happen. But they are not actually happening to you at the moment.

Your body however doesn’t know the difference. As you imagine those events happening to you, your body thinks they are happening to you right then and there. Your physiologic reaction of fight, flight, or freeze response happens – even though you are just thinking about these things.

That’s why it’s false fear. They are thoughts masquerading as fear. The thoughts feel real, because as you think them, you experience the bodily sensation of fight/flight/freeze.

Which only further activates your worry. As your thoughts race, your inner critic and or worrying parts rise to the occasion! They tell you how bad it will be! They tell you how you could make it worse!

The polite name for this fear is stress. But if we told the truth we would say, I am scared sh*tless.

Retrain your brain about false fear

Check in with those feelings you name stress or anxiety. Spend some quiet time being Curious toward your fear. Don’t overthink it. Just stay with this part of you and wonder about it. What does it have to tell you?

  • It prefers certainty, and feels scared when you consider doing things that will make the future uncertain
  • It pictures bad things happening to you, so it doesn’t want you to go forward

Let this part of you know you hear its concerns. Let it know you have more information and can share the calm your larger Self feels.

Certainty is not a Self quality. Self does not have certainty! What Self does have is:

  • Calm
  • Compassion
  • Curiosity
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Connection
  • Confidence
  • Clarity

Let your Self show up with its Calm and Creativity to help your fearful parts. As Self hears this worried part, it – you – will help meet any true needs.

Self can retrain your brain that false fears are just that, false. There is no danger. There is no need for an all-encompassing certainty about life, the universe, and everything.

Because of our biology, we lead from a part of us that is constantly scanning for danger. We can get stuck in overdrive with this part of our brain and have it wrong: there is no danger. Getting it wrong would be the fear without a cause.

Get up close to those false fears…

Listen to your false fears…but don’t react to them.

Listening to false fears can lead to solutions.

For example, maybe you’ve woken up at night worrying about what will happen to your children if you die. A grim example but a common one. You could react to your false fears by worrying about the aches and pains in your body.

Or, you could get up close to that fear and see how you’re worried about who will take care of them. You realize, you need to update your will! Valuable information for sure!

You must notice your fear to separate from them so that you can hear what part is real and what is not real.


Image credit

Wolf” by Flickr user alexandre alacchi is licensed under CC BY 2.0.