At one time or another, most people have felt the unpleasant feelings induced by real or imagined fear. Fear can be immobilizing, but if we can take action to move past fear, we can transmute fear into exhilaration by taking small action amid distress.
Although imagined fears, like fear of heights, public speaking, people or spiders, pose little to no real threat, it does active the sympathetic nervous system and induces emotional and physiological responses like those experienced in life-threatening situations. This is commonly known as the fight or flight response which causes an increase in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. This is extremely useful in determining if we should stay and fight in the moment or flee to avoid imminent danger, like if we were being chased by a tiger. However, we create fearful scenarios in non-threatening situations which triggers the same response as fear arising from alarming situations that can feel like we are being chased by a tiger.
Imagined fear is mind-made and stems from imagining negative outcomes that are not grounded in reality. Fear escalates as we fixate on thoughts rooted in “What if? ” outcomes. What if I fail? What if I plummet from thousands of feet up in the air? What if everyone laughs at me? What if the spider is poisonous? Our thoughts are focused on the potential harm that may occur if what we fear actually happened.
When experiencing fear the brain tries to keep us safe by sending a rush of hormones to the body which thrusts us into a state of hyper-arousal. To counter this biochemical response we can first, take several deep breaths in and slowly exhale to calm our state. We can then choose to conquer fear by acknowledging that most fear is an illusion that only exists in our minds, and poses no real threat. With this awareness, we can halt “What if?” scenarios running on repeat in our minds or at least redirect them by replacing unfavourable thoughts and imagining pleasing outcomes.
If you can move beyond imagined fear by taking some small action in the moment you are experiencing it, you can transmute fear into feelings of exhilaration and experience the alchemy of fear.