Over the weekend, my husband and I went to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5 Armies. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but the movie starts with a provoked, fire-breathing dragon, ready to wreak havoc on the people of Laketown. This dragon wants revenge and is ready to destroy.
In response, what do the people of Laketown do? They run. They hide. They gather their children and try to get away on their little boats. Please, like they can really out-paddle a flying dragon…
Not only is this scene apart of an entertaining movie, it’s also a great illustration for what happens to us when we deal with fear.
Seth Godin refers to the primitive, survival mode part of our brain as the “lizard brain”. Just like when a little reptile is faced with a threat of a predator, this part of our brain signals to us to fight or flight. We access this part of our brain when we perceive a threat and filled with fear. Because we don’t have dragons ridding our family lineage, this could play out in our world when we are too scared to apply for a promotion or speak up in a team meeting, or when we react negatively to hurtful criticism or tell a lie to present a false image. Whatever it is, the action or behavior is rooted in fear.
Oh, but we can't live like this. Here are six ways on how to kick fear in the butt:
1. Recognize how fear manifests in your body. Your brain and your body work together to communicate to you that fear is somehow at play. It could be a “knot in your stomach,” tightness in your chest, a bit of shallow breathing, or sweaty palms. Being able to recognize your body’s triggers will help create awareness of when something is not quite right. Awareness is always the first step to any 12 step program, right?
2. Breathe, grasshopper. Because the feeling is fear is activated in the lower levels of your brain, a great way to kick fear in the pants is to activate the higher levels of your brain, called the Limbic System (emotional brain), and the cerebral cortex. To get there, you must create the feeling of safety and connection. A practical way to do this is to take a couple of moments or minutes and take a few breaths, and closing your eyes, if you would like to. Taking a personal time-out can help you re-focus on the opportunity rather than the hesitation. 3. Acknowledge the positive intent behind the fear. Fear actually has a purpose. In survival mode, fear is what alerts us of danger to keep us alive. What is the fear trying to tell you? How is it trying to protect you, and keep you alive? For example, fear may come up when you start a new, exciting relationship because you have been hurt in the past. Just acknowledge that fear is trying to protect you from getting hurt again, and instead understand that you have learned and grown from that previous experience.
4. Name it, and claim it. Fear loves to lurk in the darkness, and hates being called into light. A dragon is not so as scary in broad daylight. To alleviate its power, name the lie that is birthed from this fear. For example, if you are scared to do public speaking, a lie you may be believing could be “I don’t have anything to say.” Once you name it and say it aloud, it sounds silly. Of course you have things to say! You have compelling content, knowledge, and experience that would madly benefit your audience.
Then, claim the truth! What is it that you want to believe? “I was meant to be an influential teacher.” Great! “I am equipped to take on this challenge.” Wonderful! “Everything I have worked for has led up to this moment.” Awesome, keep going!
Truth trumps lies, and takes away its power.
5. Put it off to the side. You may never fully get rid of the “gremlins,” or the little lies that the fear tells you. But that’s okay, because we don’t have to engage in what they tell us. While you are working towards your goals, and creating momentum towards your dreams, the gremlins will pop up and tell you to stop. Just put the thought off to the side and not engage with it. You cannot battle it out with someone if you choose to walk away.
6. Talk to someone about it. You don’t have to do this alone. If you’re really going through a hard time, or even before then, talk to a trusted friend, mentor, or coach about it. A fresh, outside perspective sees you in a loving and objective way and sees you outside of your fears. They can walk you through steps 1-5 and you can slay that dragon, together.
So, what happened to those citizens of Laketown? Did they burn from the Dragon’s fire or live to tell the tale? I guess you’ll have to see the movie to find out because I promised no spoilers, but you can probably guess what happens. :-)
I love this quote from Meg Cabot and want to leave you with this thought:
Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.
Supporting you to do the courageously important, Shi
ps: leave some love in the comments below, I would enjoy hearing about which tip you resonated with the most!