Mental & Emotional Health
Overcoming Fear in Human Design: Tapping Into Your Inner Courage for Growth and Expansion
When was the last time you felt afraid? Fear is inherent in human design, but overcoming it is crucial if you hope to progress, grow and expand.
You might not recognize how much fear is responsible for holding you back from honoring your life’s potential. Sitting with your fears in deep contemplation can sometimes be scary, but it puts them in perspective, shows you they are only human-sized and lets you act despite your trepidation.
How can you recognize and overcome fear while honoring its evolutionary purpose? Can you transform it from a source of anxiety to a useful guide? Yes. Here are tips for overcoming the fear inherent in human design and tapping into your inner courage for growth and expansion.
Fear’s Evolutionary Purpose
Several brain pathways go into motion when something in your environment causes fear. Your amygdala recognizes and responds to the threat, sending signals to your HPA axis while simultaneously alerting your thinking brain — your prefrontal cortex — via your hippocampus. If it turns out it was nothing, you feel a pleasant adrenaline rush and move on with your day.
If your thinking brain doesn’t hit override, your HPA axis has already signaled to your adrenal glands to release more stress hormones to power fight or flight. This pathway also plays a pivotal role in memory formation so you recognize and respond to similar threats more quickly in the future. Fear’s evolutionary purpose is to keep you alive by helping you rapidly respond to danger.
Overcoming fear, therefore, means rising above both nature and nurture. You must power through your instincts and learned fear responses from past traumas.
For example, most folks feel hesitant approaching new people for the first time, but sufficient positive experiences build confidence. However, many people with social anxiety were bullied as children. Schools report over seven million such incidents yearly, and more occur after the bell rings. This negative reinforcement solidifies a child’s innate fear of strangers and makes them downright terrified of speaking in public or even making small talk.
Analyzing and Overcoming Fears at Every Age
Although fear serves a valid and vital evolutionary purpose, it can cause problems. For example, if you have a phobia around airplanes, you might never apply for your dream job if the description included regular travel. Public speaking is another common fear that can stymie your career.
Fear can even hold you back in your personal life. How can you know that cutie will say no to a date if you never shoot your shot?
Your parents play a key role in teaching you how to overcome fears, but you could have some heavy work to do if your childhood caregivers reinforced yours instead. For example, children raised in emotionally abusive households might have heard negative comments about themselves at home, doubling down on the bullying received in school.
The increased stress provokes an adaptive response — the child wants to ease it. However, if they don’t have a responsible adult to teach them how to manage big, scary feelings, they might become shy and avoidant around other people, shutting down out of fear. Conversely, they may become oppositional, responding to the slightest perceived threat with anger far beyond what the situation warrants.
It’s not hard to see how such behavioral patterns can cause unnecessary suffering in life if you have ingrained them since childhood. You might never apply for your dream job, start a business, ask someone on a date or even seek therapy if your fear of others paralyzes you.
Conversely, hot-headed behavior can land you in jail or result in lost jobs and damaged relationships. Overcoming your fears is crucial in regulating your emotions and learning healthier ways to react to stressful situations.
3 Journal Prompts for Overcoming Fears
Journaling is a fabulous tool for overcoming fears. It’s also free, even if therapy isn’t in your budget at the moment.
1. Name Your Fears
You might not even realize which specific fears hold you back the most. To discover them through journaling, think about situations you avoid or which make you uncomfortable. For example, nearly everyone feels nervous when walking down a dark alleyway — what other conditions warrant an instant “no, thanks” from you?
Go deep. For example, you might recognize a fear of strangers. What, specifically, about interacting with people you don’t know makes you nervous? Is it a fear of physical harm or a concern that they will damage your ego by making you look foolish?
2. Interview Your Fear
Here’s a powerful journaling technique for overcoming fear: give that puppy a name. You can even throw an imaginary suit on your fear and describe their appearance. Then, pretend you’re Barbara Walters and interview it, asking questions like:
- What made you the big, bad wolf you are today? Where did you come from?
- What would happen if someone were to ignore you?
- When are you most likely to appear?
- What saps you of your power?
3. What Are the Possible Outcomes?
The nice thing about journaling is that there’s no need to write in tidy paragraphs. You can make lists or draw webs — which is what this activity asks.
Imagine you successfully overcome your fear and do whatever panic currently prevents. What are the possible outcomes? Write them all down, the good, the bad and the ugly. Which ones are most likely to occur?
4 Activities to Help You Overcome Fears
Exploring what makes you panicky through journaling is an excellent first step. However, overcoming fear also takes action — here are four things you can do.
1. Scan Your Body
Part of overcoming fear entails recognizing its physical component. Did you know that your fear can amplify itself? Remember, when your amygdala detects a potential threat, it activates your HPA axis. You release adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones that increase heart rate — but guess what? Your body can then interpret your increased pulse and blood pressure as further reason for panic — and the vicious cycle continues.
A body scan can interrupt this process. Find a quiet place, and go through your body head to toe, observing your reactions. Is your heart beating faster? Do you feel tension in certain muscles? Consciously slow your breathing and notice the effects on how you feel.
2. Sit With Your Fear
This exercise might be best performed with a therapist if you have a severe trauma history. However, one method of overcoming fear entails simply sitting with this uncomfortable emotion and recognizing that it alone cannot hurt you, while asking God for peace to overcome this fear.
You can use this method best for combatting specific phobias. For example, suppose you want to overcome a fear of flying. In that case, you might visualize yourself sitting on an airplane, letting your body experience the sensation of panic while you remain safely on your yoga mat or meditation cushion. Looking your fear in the eye often decreases its power over your psyche.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Your next step in overcoming fears is practicing doing the very activities that frighten you. For example, someone afraid of flying might go to an airport and watch the planes land and take off. If they have a buddy who works for an airline or owns an aircraft, they might sit in a plane while it remains safely grounded.
4. Immerse Yourself
Finally, truly overcoming an irrational fear often means immersing yourself in the experience. You should preferably do so when surrounded by love and support. For example, the individual struggling with a fear of flying might take a trip with their entire family. They might even tackle a flight lesson with the help of a trusted training instructor.
Benefits of Facing Your Fears
The benefits of facing your fears include an increased sense of agency. That’s your belief that your actions can make a positive difference, and there are few better ways to develop it than overcoming your fears and making them life-sized. You should feel as if you could conquer the world.
Additionally, overcoming fears can lead to the following:
- Improved career satisfaction
- Better personal relationships
- More confidence in navigating daily life
Overcoming Fear in Human Design
The exercises above can help you overcome the fear inherent in human design. Although it serves an evolutionary purpose, this emotion can hold you back from fulfilling your dreams.
Improved confidence helps in every aspect of your life. Use these tips to overcome fear and take better control of your future.
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