Fear & Anxiety – Friend or Foe?

As far as emotions go, fear and anxiety get a lot of ‘bad press’ the majority of the time, they are perceived as something bad which should be avoided at all costs and got ridden of as quickly as possible.  We forget, that actually, fear and anxiety can sometimes be a friend rather than a foe!!

What are Fear and Anxiety?

Fear and anxiety are the emotions we experience when we are in a dangerous or potentially harmful situation.  They make up part of our body’s alarm system, also known as the fight ’n’ flight response, it’s designed to help keep us safe and out of harms way.

We experience fear when we are faced with a dangerous situation, where as anxiety occurs more in response to an anticipated or expected potential threat.   Take the analogy of a sky dive, anxiety is what you’d experience in the plane as you reach the height to jump from because you would be anticipating something scary is going to happen.  Fear is what you’d experience as you are falling to the ground praying the parachute opens.

Fear and Anxiety Help Keep Us Safe…

Think back to the last time you were scared or anxious, you may have noticed an increase in your heart rate, your muscles tense, narrow vision (also known as tunnel vision) and possible sweating.  Fear and anxiety help us respond to danger by preparing us to act; all these physical changes are designed to help you flee, freeze, or fight the danger and it’s an automatic response, meaning we don’t have to think about it and it’s fast and very effective at keeping you safe.  So effective in fact, it’s potentially one of the reasons why human beings are still around on this planet, without it, we probably would have ceased to exists many many years ago.

So What’s Good About Fear and Anxiety?

We may not like feeling fear and anxiety, but they are a friend to us in the way they keep us safe and out of harms way.   They can also be a signal that something is important to us.  If you are anxious about a job interview, it could mean it’s important to you and you really want that job – if you didn’t really need the job or care that much about it, you wouldn’t find the situation so anxiety provoking.

Anxiety and fear not only tell us that something is important to us but also give us the motivation to do well.  I remember back in my university days, revising for exams, it was that feeling off anxiety beforehand that made sure I revised so I could do my best in the exam, it motivated me to do the work.

Harness the Positive Energy of Fear and Anxiety

Generally speaking, emotions happen on 2 levels, the physical sensation we experience and then our interpretation of it.  Your heart races, your breathing intensifies, your limbs may quiver with anticipation, you notice butterflies in your stomach.  Does this describe fear or excitement?  It’s both.  The only difference between the two is how we think about it and we can use this to our advantage by choosing how we interpret our emotions.

Alison Wood Brookes, at Harvard Business School found when participants interpreted their nerves as excitement, they gave better public presentations compared with those who tried to relax.  We all assume calming your self down before before a big presentation or exam is the best thing to do but this research suggests otherwise.  Utilise that energy for good to help you succeed in what you are doing, rather than trying to suppress and get rid of it.

Hypnosis for Anxiety and Fear

Everyone is different and sometimes our anxieties can become overwhelming, interfering in our everyday lives.  If this is you, there is help available and Cognitive Hypnotherapy, using hypnosis for anxiety and fear, can be very effective in helping you get back to the anxiety levels which are right for you.  But with everyday anxieties, like the kind you get before a job interview or a presentation, they aren’t your enemy, if anything they are a super power, giving you energy, making you stronger and faster, helping you perform to the best of your ability, to be your very own super hero.