“Do one thing everyday that scares you” Eleanor Roosevelt
What frightens you? What could keep you up at night? Although not necessarily the happiest of topics, it is nevertheless important to consider what scares us and ask why.
Some of the more frequent answers may include snakes, spiders, flying and heights. Sometimes it might not even be something we have experienced first hand, perhaps influenced by what we have seen on television or in films. Due to the Jaws film and the iconic sound we associate with the sight of a shark fin in the water, many people are frightened of sharks. However, their reputation has been hugely misconstrued as aggressive and dangerous. In fact, they are peaceful and often the victims of human provocation. This helps to illustrate how our fears can be affected by what we read and watch in the media, however inaccurate it may be.
From a physiological point of view, we are often faced with the ‘fight or flight’ choice when scared. In fact, this was even amended a few years ago to include a ‘freeze’ option as it was discovered that certain individuals were too shocked to move in stressful situations. Whether it is during a sport, an important meeting or dodging traffic, we have all felt that surge of adrenaline when frightened, but what followed? Did you stand up tall, freeze, or change your approach? Unsurprisingly, each response will be suitable to a different scenario and instinct will inevitably kick in. Fortunately, training and visualisation exercises can help reduce the risk of choosing the wrong option at the wrong time. We would not want to stand up and fight a rhino for instance!
The Roman poet Persius once said “We consume our tomorrows fretting about our yesterdays”. While this may not be the most intense of fears, there does seem to be a consistent theme across generations of planning and optimising our days in the fear of missing a trick. These days it has been named FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). As others glorify their lives on social media it is easy to assume we are not part of the ‘it crowd’ and therefore missing out on key moments. However, as this is rarely the case, focusing on the joy and fun in our lives is bound to reap healthier rewards!
As Lorraine Hansberry put it:
“Never be afraid to sit a while and think”