Fear: Survival or Imagination?

Episode #15

There is a natural fear which our brain is wired for. But that’s for our survival and safety. In most cases, survival isn’t an issue for us anymore. Nowadays, most of our fears are not actually a matter of survival but rather a product of our imagination. Statistically speaking, around 80-90% of our fears will never even happen. So why do we spend so much time worrying? In this episode, we tackle the issue of fear and offer a few proven tips to help you gain awareness of those fears to be able to replace them with more positive thoughts that will do you some good!


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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Ashley
Welcome to rise up and shine. We are two women at different stages of life who have overcome feeling stuck, and are now living life fully with peace and joy. Join Us Weekly for a real raw and faithful conversation about our trials and triumphs, bringing hope, insight and weekly tips that you too can rise up and let your light shine bright.

Welcome back, everybody. This is Ashley and Claudine here. I want to open up this episode with a quote from Michael de montane. He said over 500 years ago, my life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened. So today on the episode, we’re going to be talking about fear. Fear is one of those things that is just a nasty pest. Right? It’s right, something that we all experience in some form or another and in varying degrees as well. Fear creeps in, you know, our brain is hardwired for survival, you know, so fear is a natural process as well in our life, but fear can also be to the extreme where it is debilitating. So today on the episode, we’re going to talk about fear.

Claudine
That’s right, and not letting our fears of what could happen. Make nothing happen. We talked about it a few weeks ago, that fear is the stumbling block. And a lot of us have goals and dreams, especially the new year and 2020. And fear can stop us in our tracks. So today we’re gonna talk about different fears and different ways to overcome fear.

Ashley
Yes, so I was listening to this song, one of my favorite songs by elevation worship, and it’s called with you, and there’s a line in it, where they mentioned my anxious imagination. And that has really struck a chord with me, because as I was really becoming aware of myself, and the fear that holds me back from anything, sometimes debilitating anxiety, that those two words just really resonated with me anxious imagination. I mean, because when you think about it, most of our fears are things that might happen, right, we focus on Well, what if what if that what if that, you know, and most, we could spend so much time imagining what could possibly happen down the road or tomorrow or later, you know, we don’t worry about the past, because the past has already come and gone, right? But our worry is all focused energy on what might happen in the future. And depending on how much we focus on it, the energy we give to that is reflective of how we feel in our life, if we’re happy, if we’re feeling at peace, if we’re filled with joy, if we are focused on worry, and fear of what might happen and all the what ifs, we’re gonna feel miserable. And we were both in that place. Right?

Claudine
That’s right, we both been there. And I think there’s statistics that show that just over 90% of our fears of our worries, they don’t even happen, right. So I love that it’s a perception in our head, it’s a thought we have of what might happen. But statistically, it rarely does happen. And yet, the effect of having these fears and these anxieties, they really limit us, and the fears that we don’t face that we don’t overcome, those become our limits. And here we are trying to live life to the full to really rise up and shine. And we can’t do that if our life is filled with fear.

Ashley
Absolutely. And I really took that to heart over the last year when I’ve been doing a lot of self examination. You know, and just considering where my thoughts go, because it’s really in our thoughts. You know, I mean, the anxiety is the physiological sensation in my body that is coming from a thought, a fearful thought. And when I really was paying more attention to what is going on in my head, I realized that I my mind lives in the future, my mind lives and all these imaginable scenarios, you know, that I’m creating that I’m making up that I’m, I always felt like I could be a great storyteller because of all the things I tell myself in my head. But it’s a waste of time. And it was just draining me. You know, I mean, I had no energy. I felt depressed. I was anxious like debilitating anxiety at times. And I remember one time specifically, I had a fear I would forget to pick up my kids. And when I was going through counseling, she’s like, Well, what do you do when you’re sitting there thinking about, you know, like, worrying about forgetting to pick up your kids. I just, I see myself sitting at the counter on the stool. And I’m like, frozen in time, but time still moving. But I’m sitting there and then I see Oh, it’s time for me to go get the kids. But I’m still frozen like it’s so weird. But I realized, like my mind was just so focused on I’m going to forget the kids, I’m going to forget the kids. And so all day long from the moment I dropped him off at school, I couldn’t focus on anything else. I was not productive. I was feeling jittery. You know, I just felt really anxious, just kind of nervous, like, am I forgetting that it was going to happen, but it was just because in the back of my mind, and a lot of the times our fears are unconscious, you know, I’m not actually understanding that, Oh, yes, I’m fearful of this. We can’t always identify. But I just had this feeling like I’m gonna forget my kids. And it actually came from a time and experience as a kid where I was forgotten.

Claudine
Right? Yeah, it was the trigger for you. That was that, you know, they have reminders on your phone.

Ashley
I know. I still do I have a timer for dropping the kids off. I have a timer for picking them up. Even on minimum days. I have. Yeah. So that actually that practical has helped me because now unconsciously I know. Okay, I have a reminder coming, I have a reminder coming. So that did help when I finally realized what was going on in my head. But it’s true. I didn’t, I didn’t forget them. But I was sitting there just spending my day worrying about it. Yeah. And it’s like a waste of time, wasted.

Claudine
When there’s so many more things we could be doing. I think a lot of us as moms, a lot of our fears revolve around our children. I mean, mine are all adults now. But I still have fears for them, will they find a mate? Will they have children with children be healthy? How are they going to raise their children in this culture in this generation, there’s still so many fears that can get stuck in my heart.

Ashley
And I bet your fears back then because your children are grown. Now. They’re adults are very different than our fears nowadays, you know, in this time and age, and even with social media, and I mean, the knowledge that the kids have, you know, they’re they have access to adult content in their hands. I can, you know, I mean, many of them, not all of them, but and then just the fear of what my children will be exposed to. Right. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Oh, and their safety at school. I mean, there’s a lot of new fears this generation.

Claudine
Absolutely. We never had to fear sending our kids to school, it wasn’t even a thought. And one of the more recent shootings actually happened in the community, we did raise our we did raise our children. And so there are a lot of there is legitimate fears. And there’s some that we have control of, and there’s some we have none. But today, we’re really talking about those spirits that keep us stuck, that keep us not progressing forward and what we can and can’t do about it. So Ashley, what has helped you overcome some of your fears? I mean, all joking aside, the reminder on the phone actually is very practical.

Ashley
Yes. practicals. I needed practicals.

Claudine
Yeah, what else has helped you overcome your fears?

Ashley
Well, like I said, I had to really pay attention to what I was telling myself in my mind. And I, you know, I think we, we’ve really talked about thoughts a lot. But we want to encourage even our friends that are listening and just each other. Like it really does start with a thought. I know literally, I mean, our imagination comes from a thought whatever we’re creating, you know, I mean, I watched my children, like, my son is has an amazing imagination. He is so creative. He’s like the think out of the box type. And I just love to watch him work. And right now he does Legos. In the past, he would make these really elaborate crafts out of what I call trash, trash, and pens, and pen caps. And you know, but his imagination is so, so vast that it really made me take a look and consider my fears and my worries and the thoughts that go on on my head. And it’s my imagination. So the awareness was huge. Like, we I had to sit down, I had to just kind of pay attention. And I would notice in my body when I’m feeling anxiety, because again, it’s more anxiety is more of the physiological response, you know, to fear. And I had to really pay attention what what’s going on in my head, like, What am I thinking about right now? What am I worrying about right now? And when I was really listening to it, it was a lot of what ifs. Well, what if that what is that even you know, the morning time I talked about before in one of our previous episodes, the morning routine, getting the kids to school was very stressful for me and I felt a lot of anxiety I would get this neck pain. I would actually feel my muscles start tightening and I just felt physically uncomfortable and in pain I was stressed out I was good at irritated you know my jittery because you know, when you’re anxious, you’re. And I realized, okay, I am worried We’re going to be late, you know, so I have this expectation. And I have this fear, we’re gonna be late. We’re gonna be late. And then as if my wonderful mom of the Year Award, you know, my approach to my children of frustration and anger and threats, you know, did nothing. So really just paying attention to the thoughts that were going on in my head and the specific situation that I’m too focused on something else. In the future, even a matter of being late to school that’s still in the future. I’m not able to be present in the moment, I have to make lunches or the kids need to brush their hair or because I was too focused on an hour ahead. Right? You know, sometimes those anxieties or fears aren’t even 10 years down the road. It could even just be later that day, it could be tomorrow, but really just paying attention. Yeah. What am I thinking? What what what if Am I focusing on right now.

Claudine
Well we do talk about thoughts a lot. And I think understanding that we have the choice, we have the power of choice to what thoughts we’re going to allow in our heads to take up space in our brains or in our minds. And that’s powerful. I mean, the awareness, being present, and really choosing the thoughts we want to focus on. Because as you know, where your attention goes, your energy flows. Yeah. And your brain will look for evidence of things we think of so or it’ll make it happen, you will forget your kids. You know, if you don’t set that reminder, you get so caught up in something else. It’s so true.

Ashley
I did once. I did forget my daughter one once and you know what I did? I took her to McDonald’s for an ice cream.

Claudine
Well, there you go, I felt that she’ll want you to forget or more often, right.

Ashley
But you know, as you’re asking me, what has helped me another realization I came to I actually took this class for trauma. And we got a lot of education about what happens in our brain. And what happens to our bodies when trauma or even just emotions are trapped. And we have processed through things. And that was eye opening for me, because we got this sheet printed out. And it showed different diseases that we could develop, or even our lifespan could be 20 years shorter, you know, if we’re more likely to develop dementia, or Alzheimer’s, you know, or heart attacks, you know, heart failure, or premature aging. You know, a lot of none of us want that. Right. Yeah. So me a couple decades on you, and when I found my two gray hairs, and apparently now I have two age spots. I’m not even 40. But I have two age spots. Now. It’s, uh huh. It’s catching up to me, I need to process my emotions. But it was really eye opening. Because I, in my mind, I’m thinking, Oh, my gosh, this is a matter of life and death, you know, and my future health, like, Do I want my future health to be in a good place, you know, I want to be my healthiest self as much to my control that I actually have. But really paying attention to our thoughts and what we’re thinking what we’re focusing on, because as you said, what we focus on there, you know, is where the energy flows. And also what I tell my kids as their brain is developing, that whatever they think whatever they say, whatever they focus on, is growing their brain, it’s growing their brain that way. So whether we choose to focus on the present, or if we choose to focus on positive, or if we choose to focus on negative and worried too much about the future, our brain is developing that way, you know, but us now as adults, our brain is developed. But how our brain developed and programmed, the beauty of it is it doesn’t have to stay that way. Right? You know, we might have all this anxiety, we might not, we might have all these fears. But we don’t have to live in that place. The rest of our lives.

Claudine
That’s right. And a lot of times our fears are, there’s some nugget of truth that coming from I know for me, I my biggest fear tends to be with the health and well being my children. Of course, there’s nothing there because my children are all healthy and doing well. But that’s one of the ones that I will come upon me the most often. And the second one is with finances, because my husband, I are pretty predominantly, commission only or job specific. There’s no consistent paycheck. I know when the pipeline gets a little empty, the fear kicks in for me. Yeah. And I started thinking we’re gonna be homeless, you know, and I start going there, like, we’re gonna have to sell all our earthly goods, and we’re gonna be homeless, and it’s not really rational. It’s not really based on anything. I’ve never been homeless before. Not in the streets homeless. We’ve been in between homes for sure. And we’ve moved many, many times. But I can go there fairly quickly. And I can get really stuck and trapped with this fear of, we’re going to lose everything and we’re going to have nothing and honestly is the older we get that gets a little bit even more intense for me as I get older. I’m like, okay, I don’t have another 30 years to make income. I’ve got to kind of do it in a quicker timeframe. And so I’ve had to really work and develop some practical tools that have helped me overcome those fears.

Ashley
Right. And I think it’s important to remember that there is a healthy fear. You know, I mean, God designed our brains so beautifully, that we have the amygdala. You know, one of my favorite words I learned last year, the amygdala that’s responsible for our fear, you know, center, it’s our fear center, you know, our fight flight freeze responses, you know, so when it comes to a matter of survival, well, we want that fear, right? Because it’s a matter of life and death. And if we’re hiking in the woods, you know, and we see this bear in the distance, right? We’re not going to, you know, our logical brains, not necessarily gonna kick on and be like, Okay, well, if I do this, and if I walk slowly, and if I pull out the bear spray, and if I, you know, we’re, we’re just gonna respond, you know, yeah, we’re either gonna Buck up and run or fight or, you know.

Claudine
I think you’re supposed to run with a bear. But anyway.

Ashley
I know, freeze, you know, I mean, this is when you think about it, it’s this is all in nature, too. I mean, it’s not just humans, even animals have their specific survival technique, you know, when there is a survival issue or a danger, you know, is present. And so but for humans, we have that, but we need to discern which is which we need to be able to discern, is this a matter of survival? Right? Or is this a matter of my imagination? Exactly. And at every point, we said, you know, and what we’ve researched is 80 to 90% of our fears is imaginary, like, it’s never even going to happen, right? Like that, quote, I mean, we cause so much turmoil in our own lives just because of worry, and fear. But that’s the unhealthy fear. So when we gain all this awareness, and this is where the power was, for me, as I learned last year, and I just became so much more aware of myself and my thinking patterns, because it’s a pattern, right? You know, that I was understanding that now I have the power to discern the difference? Is this a matter of survival? Is this really a threat? Is this really dangerous for my well being? Or for my family? No, it is not. Okay, so I am just worrying. I’m getting myself all riled up and being anxious about something that might not happen. So do I want to be at peace? Or do I want to live in chaos? You know, and I was living in chaos, because I was living in that place where my thoughts were focused on what if? And, for me, it’s not even finances, I remember having this discussion with my husband and many women desire security, right? I do not, it’s not, I’m like, you know, what, if we live in a little dinky a one bedroom apartment, you know, cuz that’s all we can afford, as long as we have each other and we love each other. That’s all I need. And I think it was also part of my experiences growing up, but being together was more what I wanted, and our health and just loving each other. But for me, it’s the fear of other people the fear of what other people might think of me. So I learned that I held myself back from a lot, and I kind of lived in this place of, I’ll be quiet, you know, I won’t stir the pot, I’m not going to share my views or my opinions, kind of like this place, I don’t really have a voice. But I chose not to have a voice, right? Because I didn’t want to speak up and get criticism or get corrected, or someone get upset. You know, so I lived in this place of fearing other people. Right, I feel in general, um, and I think a lot of women struggle with fearing what other people think I think we give a lot of power to that, right. And I remember days where I would just sit and literally sit on the couch and spend my time that I had at home, you know, being a stay at home mom, while my kids were at school, worrying about somebody else. You know, like maybe there was a situation that was happening, maybe there is a challenge in a relationship or a friendship or my marriage, I would sit there and I would play out this whole story in my mind. And I was creating a story with my imagination. So I felt like well, I could use it as a gift.

Or what I was doing my habit was I would just sit and worry about what other people were thinking. And I was creating such intense fear in myself that I would have debilitating anxiety, or I would have depression, because I was too focused on what other people were thinking. And a lot of it I was too worried about what other people might be thinking. Right now. I think a lot of it also is I personally and I’m sure many of us can relate that when we are too concerned about what other people might think of us. They’re probably not even thinking about us at all. That’s the truth, you know, and so really, it goes back to It’s our imagination, right? You know, and we are creating our feelings. So I personally saw that I was creating my anxiety. Because my thoughts were too focused on this other person and what they might be thinking of me whether it was true or not.

Claudine
That’s a great point.

Ashley
So Claudine, and I wanted to step back to you and ask you what were specific practicals that helped you deal with your fear?

Claudine
Yeah, I had several, you know, again, several fears, fears of my children, fears of our finances. Those are really my predominant ones. And so the things that helped me there were two one was, again, learning that my thoughts really made a difference in how I felt, and I would write down writing down is a great tool, but I would write down like, I fear being homeless. And then I would write a couple things I could do to prevent that. And then there was the opposite approach. Okay, if this were to happen, what’s the worst thing that could happen? If we did lose our home and we sold all our belongings? What is the worst thing that could happen? Well, the truth of it is, the worst thing that would happen is we would go live with friends or family. And I knew that that was a viable option is certainly not anything we wanted. But it gave me a sense of safety, like I wasn’t going to be threatened with life and limb, the outcome might not be great, but I’m writing down ways to prevent the fearful outcome. And what I could do if it happened anyway, what are some steps I could take after the fact those really helped call me and just help me feel like, okay, there’s options. It’s not just this do or die thing, because like you said, our brains, our permanent brains are wired for safety and survival. And so when we feel like our survival is threatened, then it’s a really scary place to be. And then we don’t even think logically like, my thoughts can be really illogical when I’m feeling threatened. But writing it down, helps me get back to a more calm, more logical state of being. The other thing that really helped me was finding scriptures that spoke to my heart. And one of my favorite ones, was an Isaiah 4110, where it says, Don’t panic, I am with you, there’s no need to fear for I am your God, I give you strength, I help you. And I’ll hold you steady. And just having to say that over and over and over again, and believing it really choosing to believe that even though sometimes it takes a really long time, to see the results of that sometimes it just feels like this is never gonna end or the good result we want at the end is never coming, it can feel that way. But the truth is, in time, it’s all going to resolve itself. And that’s given me great peace, also realizing that everything unfolds, as it should. And that my way is not necessarily the way it’s just a way. And sometimes things don’t go my way. And sometimes that’s for the better, honestly. And sometimes we’ve had really difficult times I’ve had really difficult times in my life, but I’ve grown through them, I’ve learned through them. And I am who I am today because of the hardships and the difficult things that I’ve had to encounter. So those are the two main things that’s helped me.

Ashley
That’s really great Claudine, I was thinking as you were talking something that came to mind was how you would ask yourself, well, what’s the worst thing that could happen? I remember being asked that. And I didn’t like it. I remember sharing with people, like just situations I was having, you know, in a challenging relationship. And I remember being encouraged by a couple different people, well, maybe it just kind of sit and ask yourself, well, what’s the worst that can happen? Right? And I thought, and they’re like, well, maybe they just don’t like you, you know. And to me, it was like, that is the worst thing that could happen that they don’t like me, you know, because I held so much of my worth myself worth in the opinions of others, that that did feel detrimental, that did feel like no, that is the worst thing that can happen. If they don’t like me, that’s the worst thing ever that could ever happen. And I realized that oh my gosh, like, you know, I shouldn’t put my self worth and my value in the opinions of others. You know, that’s not fair to give them that responsibility, nor am I right, and nor am I doing a service to myself. And I remember in my counseling, my therapist wrote down on a piece of paper and handed it to me and she wrote the word power. And she’s like, I’m giving you your power back. And I thought, wow, I love that. And it just really helped me pay attention to different situations that would happen with people and what my thoughts around it were right, like, as we’ve talked about in the past, there’s a circumstance, what is my thought giving meaning to that circumstance. And so when there was a situation in a relationship, and this really was a big challenge in my marriage, too, you know, but it really changed when I got this concept that my thoughts are my responsibility, you know, other people’s opinions are not my responsibility. I may not like it, but I need to accept it as it is. And I need to protect myself and protect my mind from going to those places of creating a story. You know, because I’m wasting my time and wasting my life thinking about what other people are, you know, possibly may or may not be thinking about me, but really, I’m putting that power on them. And really, I need to take that power back, right. And the scripture really helped me in Matthew 6:33, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. And that really helped me because I thought, you know what, like, I’m paying too much attention to what other people might be thinking, I’m paying too much attention to what could happen tomorrow or in the future, it really is a waste of time, it really is, do I want to live my life this way, it keeps us stuck and limited, right? Very much so and then knowing that we have the power to choose to live differently, was amazing. Like for both of us, you know, in our very own different ways, we learn that we have the power to make the choice of how we want to live our life, how we want to spend our day, what we want to think, you know,

Claudine
How we want to feel it’s a choice.

Ashley
Absolutely. And so what helped me with that overcome that is I had to stop focusing on those thoughts about the other person and replace them, right? I mean, I would even do things like maybe I delete, you know, the name or something or, you know, just anytime a particular person that I was having a challenge with popped in my head, and I noticed my thoughts start ruminating on Oh, my gosh, you know, creating the story, I would need to replace it, you know, I would need to distract myself, I would need to find a more positive thought to replace those ruminating negative stories that I’m telling myself.

Claudine
Just think what our lives would be like, if we stopped thinking about all the things that could go wrong, start thinking and getting excited about all the things that could go right. I mean, you know, it’s our choice. But yet it’s almost automatic to go to the negative. I think our brains are wired that way. And it takes a concentrated, conscious effort to create those positive thoughts and think about the way things could go right and really focus on those.

Ashley
Absolutely. And I think in closing, I want to point out perspective, you know, it’s really our perspective on how we choose to view a situation, how we choose to think about it, and I was helping a coaching client of mine, and he started losing motivation, you know, he’s been making all this progress and growth. And I’ve been there I totally understand. And he’s starting to kind of fall back into but I’m not there yet. But I’m not there yet. And we had this whole discussion on the fears, the fear of Well, I’m not where I should be, you know, the expectations, the maybe I’m not going to be able to do that, you know, failure. Absolutely. And but what happened was, he forgot to celebrate his progress and how far he’s come. And I think it’s so important for us to do that is to realize that if we focus on the progress we’ve made, and also what I have done that has helped and I encourage my clients to do this as well is rather than focusing on the worries, gift, thanks, you know, change perspective and have gratitude. And that’s why I say kind of look back to the past and your progress. Oh my gosh, I am so thankful that I chose a different thought in this situation. Another thing I did is in my prayers rather than praying for my children and all the fears I had, I changed my prayers, I changed the wording and I would thank God for my children even as if things happened, but they may not have happened, you know, you know, I’m grateful that my children grew up to be a great blessing to society right now or fulfilling their dreams and their God given purpose like I prayed as if those things happened. So I was going about my day feeling grateful for my children and what they are doing in the future what we’ll be doing if treatments to come I love that absolutely idea and so I didn’t spend my day worrying about my children. I spent my day feeling grateful for them.

Claudine
Awesome. It reminds me of that scripture. In Second Timothy for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. And with our sound minds. We have the power to choose to live life to the full we have the power to choose to live life full of joy, love, and peace.

Ashley
Friends, thank you so much for tuning in with us today. We hope this episode has brought you one step closer to living the life you love. Until next time, remember the world needs who you were made to be.