Differentiating Fear From Instinct
In last week’s Inspirational Injection™ we defined fear. This week, in order to best position ourselves for effectively dealing with fear, we will explore ways to recognize whether what we are experiencing is fear, some derivative of it attacking, or if it is our natural survival instincts in action. If we can recognize our enemy (fear) coming from a distance, we are will have more time to prepare and strategize on how to defeat it when it tries creep in to pounce on us.
Fear is a creation of the mind, and is usually created far in advance of anything ever actually happening. Yes, we create fear out of thin air! It is usually attached to something we have either experienced first-hand or witnessed someone else experience, sometimes only in a movie or on the news. Fear causes irrational behaviors such as anxiety, overprotectiveness, panic attacks, knee-jerk reactions, hallucinations, etc. Instinct reacts to events as they are occurring – in real time; it “kicks in” naturally, with no thought or coercion, while fear reacts to things that have perhaps not yet occurred – based upon the thought that it might occur – but possibly may not ever occur. What kind of way is that to live?!
Let’s take a look at an example that will really bring this all home: You are driving along on a relatively busy and crowded freeway, and a tractor trailer suddenly swerves over into your lane almost hitting you and your child who is riding in the back car seat. You quickly compensate, likely overcompensate, your steering with a quick snatch of the wheel in order to avoid be crashed into. Your wheels screech loudly as your vehicle wobbles violently as you work to regain control. Imagine the feelings and thoughts running through your mind as this is all unfolding in just a few short seconds. Actually, not much thinking is going on at all, only reacting – your instincts take over naturally. This is what I call I.I.A. or Instinct In Action! I just made that up on the fly…cool, huh? You reacted in those few seconds in a fierce attempt to ensure the safety of yourself and your child – to sustain life. The thoughts that follow are thoughts of fear – fear of what could have happened. Instinct was in play for a few split seconds, just long enough to release the adrenaline rush needed to make the sudden gestures that moved you back to safety.
Fear arises from the thought of something happening we are fearful of. Fear can be created, instincts cannot. We are born with instincts, we are not born with fear. Through this observation I think it is safe to say that fear is neither natural or necessary, but instincts are. When negative (or fearful) emotions last outside of the moment, it is fear, and not instinct. When you wish to delineate and recognize when what you are feeling is fear or instinct, think on these things in summary:
1) Instinct “kicks in” naturally – in the moment – and only when and while needed
2) Instinct requires no thought whatsoever, it acts…instinctively
2) Instinct lasts for short periods – long enough to return us to safety & sustain life
1) Fear is created in our thoughts, in the mind, and is perpetuated by outside stimuli
2) Fear begins in advance of, and can last long after, the actual event occurs
3) Fear can cause long-term mental paralysis, if we allow it to
Next week, we will discuss how we can conquer fear! You won’t want to miss this one!
Life Architect, Coach & Speaker
Extracted from Inspirational Injection™ with Bradford Speaks – 10/24/2013