Do you have fears? Congratulations, you’re a human being! It’s perfectly normal to fear. Everyone has fears, I know I have a couple (or thousands) of them. We cannot avoid fear, but let’s investigate what fear is, and what we can do about it.
Let’s take an example of exposure of fear:
I see a bear; I panic and run away.
What actually happens is a cluster of nuclei, the amygdala, in my brain reacts to my sight (references: Anette Prehn and calmclinic.com). The amygdala stores all my experiences and emotions. It especially remembers unpleasant feelings, it remembers dangers and reacts on all dangers and all what resemble to those dangers. Amygdala causes a strong physical reaction and my instinct is to fight or flee. This is very useful when we meet actual dangers as dangerous animals, nature disasters, and violence.
Hey, wait a second. Let’s watch the bear again. It turns out the bear is a beetle! My amygdala thought the beetle was a bear, and therefore I panicked. When the amygdala reacts on “false” dangers, it’s not constructive. Fearing false dangers can stop you from following dreams, hopes and calling. Fear can stop you from living your life. That’s a good reason to be serious about fear and decrease fear factors, and what triggers your amygdala? Emotions or environmental impulses: thoughts, words, smell, sounds etc. Events that remind you of an unpleasant experience from your childhood trigger your amygdala. Changes, new people, exams, threats of unemployment, high expectations, noise, suppressed feelings and unexpected events trigger your amygdala. Stress triggers your amygdala.
You can’t avoid fear, so what can you do about it?
- Reduce your stress factors. Realize what stresses you and handle these stressors, don’t ignore them.
- Confront your fears. Watch the bear, which is a beetle. Look into your monsters’ eyes. Jump out in the sea, dare risk and have faith (Luke 8:22-25).
- Take care of your body. Your body is God’s temple. Rest, sleep well, exercise, drink and eat well.
- Get organized and create routines. Organization results in less unexpected events and more overview and confidence.
- Schedule free time to do the things you love, spend time with your family and friends, attend church etc.
- Meditate/pray. You’re not alone. Spend one on one time with God, be silent, and listen to his Word. It nourishes and calms your spirit, soul and mind. Come to Jesus:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
- Have faith in God’s messages: For I the lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee (Isaiah 41:13)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
Final words: You can’t avoid fears, but don’t fear fearing. “Meet your fears with faith.” (Max Lucado)
Faith is what we will explore in the next and final episode of the fear series.