Real Danger versus Perceived Fear
Our minds are there to protect us. Without our minds, we probably would have never made it out of the cave days. Genetically, we are still very much cave dwellers. We experience the physical effect of fight or flight when our mind perceives us to be in danger. It can be a mild reaction of butterflies or a full blown attack complete with heart palpitations, shaking, cold sweat, blurry vision, and muffled hearing. I can describe this so perfectly, because I experienced it quite unexpectedly while on stage with my harp in front of hundreds of people. This crippling fear is debilitating! After this humiliating experience, I began to research performance anxiety and found out that it is much more common than I had believed. Even the most accomplished musicians suffer from this fear, but they have learned to manage it. I had a choice… let this fear stop me from sharing my music, or exposing myself repeatedly to the experience until I had learned to manage my anxiety.
Col. Chris Hadfield gave a brilliant speech on perceived fear versus real danger that put the issue into perspective. He compared a mission in the shuttle to people’s reaction to spiders. When you go up in the shuttle you have a real chance of ending up dead. What’s the worst that can happen if a spider landed on you? That is, if you live in Canada… Australia is a different story!
Next time your alarm bells go off, ask yourself ‘Am I in real danger or is this perceived fear’?
You can give your mind the benefit of the doubt and analyze the situation with ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ This overrides the instinctive fight or flight and forces you to think rationally. Once you think rationally and realize that your fear is perceived, you can thank your mind for sharing and move past your fear. Here’s the good news: The more often you practice moving past your fear, the more courageous you become! Moving past perceived fear becomes a lifestyle, a habit. You truly become unstoppable! First you say it - then you do it!
I act in spite of fear!