Fear Can Have Its Advantages
Fear isn’t always such a bad thing. In fact, it actually can have a number of advantages. Growth occurs when you push past your comfort zone. If not for fear, you wouldn’t make significant progress in new or exciting areas of your life. You would remain stagnant, and this usually leads to unhappiness. It’s pushing past the fear that helps you to move beyond dissatisfaction.
The Evolution of Fear
Before we look at the benefits of fear, let’s first talk a bit about its evolution. If you understand a bit about the ways in which fear manifests and its intended function, you may be better armed to battle it.
When we encounter change, the events we ordinarily experience are altered in some way. Our brains kick into a hyperdrive of sorts when such new information is presented. It doesn’t matter if the change is good or if it’s bad, the same physiological result will occur.
Our levels of stress begin to grow because we’re suddenly faced with variables that may not make sense. The information we once knew has failed us, and we need to process new data.
The amount of stress we feel depends on a number of factors. One is the experiences we hold. What we’ve come to understand as our core beliefs about the world are usually ingrained in us as young children. The more something presents as contrary to those beliefs, the more resistance you will have toward it. Thus, the higher your stress levels and fear will probably be.
A factor that significantly affects our response to fear is that of loss. Our brains are programmed to avoid loss. Change, whether good or bad, usually involves leaving something behind. Your brain will perceive this event as losing that thing. Your brain tells you that all the time and effort you’ve invested in that thing is being wasted, despite the fact that this is likely not logical in reality. In fact, this struggle to avoid loss is what so strongly influences much of our decisions to remain in a current circumstance that may not be in our best interest.
Now that you understand a bit of why your brain works the way it does when presented with life changes, let’s move on to discover some of the benefits of the fear that new things can bring.
Benefits of Fear
One of the biggest benefits that can come from moments of fear is clarity. You start to see what really matters and why a change may be necessary. It’s that kind of realization that can give you the oomph you need to push forward even in hard times. You start to determine your priorities and what doesn’t belong in your life.
Fear also brings with it the focus. When you feel afraid, you’re pushed to concentrate on working things out and on discovering an alternative to what currently isn’t satisfying you. You can see what needs to be done, and you’re more inclined to take firm action than you might have otherwise. When fear isn’t present, you have the leisure of paying attention to other things.
You also have the freedom to take your time if there’s no urgency. Fear pushes you to action, and that’s a good thing. It motivates you to get things done. Those are usually the difficult things that would have waited or may never have been accomplished at all if there hadn’t been a catalyst to action.
The change also brings with it opportunities. Things won’t get better in your life if you stick your head in the sand and avoid change entirely. You’ll gain some wonderful experiences when you open yourself to change. You also develop new skills when faced with times of adversity or novelty. Such skills include resilience, flexibility, creativity, and ingenuity. Also, you almost always become a stronger person. There’s always growth in change.
Another advantage that you may not have considered to be a positive thing is that fear often leads us to rely on help from others. Asking for assistance isn’t a weakness. When we’re afraid, the clarity we receive is sometimes enough to show us we simply can’t accomplish something on our own. Getting help builds bonds, and it can bring you to your destination much faster than if you were to try to get there on your own.
Sometimes being afraid can push you to perform necessary actions. It’s the evolutionary response of fight or flight that is stimulated by fear. You go on autopilot in the face of fear and do what absolutely must be done at that moment in order to get you out of a jam help you avert a crisis or literally save your life.
How to Cope with Change
Now you know how your brain works in times of uncertainty, and you understand the advantages change can give you. It’s time to discuss some concrete ways you can cope with change in order to gain the most from it.
Focus on better things to come. The situation that’s in front of you is leading you to something. Even if this is a hard time, the fact remains that you need to move forward. Placing your energies into seeing the positives and how much better you’ll feel when you get through this period will help to keep you moving in the face of fear.
Always communicate when going through a change. Whether it’s personal or career, chances are others will be affected by this change, too. Sharing information with them will help to keep you all on the same page and to avoid miscommunications. You’ll be more likely to find success if you work well with those around you. They may even be able to help you if you let them know what you need.
Stay positive and try to keep the big picture in mind. Change happens for a reason. Once you understand that reason, it helps just to give into it and accept it with a positive attitude. Your journey will go more smoothly once you’re able to overcome your resistance. Focusing on the prize at the end of the process also helps to motivate you and keep your spirits up while dealing with uncertainty.
Finally, it’s important to accept that change is unavoidable. It’s one of the only things that’s actually a constant in our lives. You can run and hide, but you can rarely avoid it completely. Don’t let the fear postpone the inevitable. Facing what you’re afraid of will almost always bring you a sense of confidence and accomplishment.
There’s nothing like the taste of success. Once you’ve learned to battle and overcome your fears, you’ll be filled with a sense of pride. You may even wonder what it was you were so worried about in the first place.
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Whenever I feel fear I usually pay more attention. I know, from experience, that fear can often mean I am going to learn something or that there’s an opportunity there. I trust my gut whenever I have a big decision to make or when I’m afraid. My gut is usually right and I’ve always had something positive happen after trusting it.