The amygdala is the portion of the brain in charge of fear. Its purpose is a left over from our caveman days when fear signaled to our bodies that danger was imminent. For instance, if a Tyrannosaurus rex was about to crush you under foot, your brain would flood with all kind of endorphins that would haul your ass out of its path. Fear and flight.
You’d think the human body would have evolved away from cave man days after thousands of years of civilization. We should be a fearless species in the technology age, and not be scared of life and the opportunities we can create.
Yet, in its own way, the ancient force of nature may play a factor in survival today. Today’s fear allows us to step into a higher form of living. It allows us to break through adversity and survive at all costs. It’s just a question of how we chose to survive – by playing with fear or succumbing to it? If we succumb to it, we fail evolution and get crushed by the very thing that scares us. If we dabble and laugh at fear, learning to play with it – we move into a higher level of consciousness and embrace the courage to go forth and do something we’ve never done before.
People who embrace fear are the thrill seekers. They are the ones who need the rush of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, or shoot off in a space capsule with its lasers set for the surface of the moon. They love roller coaster rides, sky diving or bungee jumping. They free fall off mountains with parachutes on their back.
Although we don’t have to exercise the frightening pull of such hobbies (there is no way on god’s green earth I will EVER jump off anything higher than 2 feet), the concept of fear is alive and well in regular people whose only thrill is doing something they’ve never done before in order to gain an exhilarating result.
That result can be writing a book and having it published. It can be stepping through the fear of taking an improv class, or pulling through stage fright when speaking in public for the first time. It can be writing this blog about fear, or joining a team of like minded business owners to brainstorm ways you can each achieve your goals.
Here’s another form of free fall sky diving: Leaving your regular day job and going forth as a full time business owner. Talk about bunjee jumping. We don’t need to get strapped to the end of a giant rubber band over a bridge to gain that thrill. Try letting go of a safe corporate job to embark on your dreams once you’ve built the foundation. Say goodbye to the safety net of a paycheck, after one starts to see earnings and gaining clients whose lives are positively changing thanks to the product you’ve brought to the world. The fear of venturing out to acquire this success is something that can stop you in your tracks. But you have to pull through.
Then, there is another fear built into the general resistance that holds you back: The fear of failure. Failure is always one step away. It’s on the other side of the hill. It awaits you the moment you wake up. The amygdala is working on overdrive, because it’s reaching back and feeling the stomping feet of a modern day Deno the Dino.
But here’s the deal. If you don’t even try – you’ve already failed. Scared to do something you really want to do, but you give up? Then you’ve failed. Nobody will listen to me or read my book? Okay. You’ve failed. Look – no one is really reading my book (“Hitting Water”) because I’ve been too busy working on the next thing to promote it. I don’t look at that as a failure. I look at that as the first step in learning to write a book and promote it. Maybe it will take off in the years to come, after I’ve built a website community for writers and coach people in getting their writing out. But if I didn’t try – I would have failed. Just getting the book out was a big step. And that’s success to me. If I hadn’t done it – I’d risk being miserable. I’d risk being bitter.
Failure is a lesson. Failure is a step toward the next thing, the next idea. If we succumb to fear because FAILURE is the brick wall that stops us – then we’re living in the hungry mouths of a pre-historic creature.
We shouldn’t stop working on our goals because a giant reptile was eying us for breakfast 50 million years ago. Move it on upwards. Dino isn’t roaring at our cave hole now – unless WE put him there.
This is pep talk to everyone dealing with the fear of doing something you love. It’s also a pep talk to myself.
Thanks for reading!