The two types of fear
Did you know there are different types of fear? There are.
Identifying what type of fear I’m experiencing has been crucial for me, particularly in regards to the progress I’ve been able to make in my career. Checking in has helped me make decisions like:
Should I change careers?
Should I negotiate?
Should I leave my job to start my own business?
Should I accept that speaking gig?
Making all of these choices I’ve felt something akin to fear – that sometimes gut-wrenching, sometimes heart-pounding, sometimes sweat-inducing feeling of resistance. A feeling that threatened to paralyze me into inaction, to drive me to make excuses for why I should stick with the status quo and resist making any - what felt like - risky changes.
Being able to identify what type of fear I was experiencing was an important step in helping me decide what to do in those situations:
Type 1: Fear for your safety
This is the normal, healthy, and instinctive response your brain and body have to any true threat to your safety. It’s designed to preserve your life and help you survive life-threatening situations. It’s this fear that can make you go from 0 to 60mph in less than a second as your body prepares its flight or flight response.
Type 2: Limiting fear
This is the fear that causes feelings of anxiety as we worry about things that may or may not happen. There is no immediate threat to our survival in this case. Personal insecurities dominate and we concern ourselves with whether or not we can handle “it" - whatever “it” might be.
I should point out that fear is a perfectly normal, natural emotion that we all experience from time to time. The feeling is beneficial in that it alerts us to things that require our attention and can help us focus.
But it’s important that we recognize the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 fear so that we can understand why the feeling has come up and identify when we might be holding ourselves back.
So how can you respond to fear? Type 1 fear will instinctively arm you to fight or flee but if you notice Type 2 fear coming up for you, consider that this could mean:
“I care about the outcome.”
“I need to focus in on what’s going on here.”
“I need to make sure I prepare for this.”
“I can learn and grow from this.”
The key is to be able to:
acknowledge what you’re feeling
reflect on why it’s come up
and make a deliberate decision about how to proceed
rather than allowing the feeling to serve as a trigger that you should simply not do something.
Here are some questions to help you process your own fear feelings when they come up:
What is this feeling alerting me to?
Which path will allow me to live in alignment with my values?
Which path will enable me to be of most service?
Is there a lesson for me to learn in this?
Will I regret not doing this?
I hope this post inspires you to be able to overcome your own limiting fears when they come up.