Powerful 3 Step Hack To Beat Your Fear

Powerful 3 Step Hack to Beat Your FearFear breeds fear. There’s an almond type thing in our brains called the amygdala. When we feel threatened or afraid, it activates.

Even when the event that triggered the fear is over, the amygdala can stay activated. Left over negative emotions hang around in the brain.

We then look at the world through a scary lens.

No wonder people can be pessimistic. It’s a vicious circle. The more we feel fear, the more we see the world through this negative lens.

Fear is one of the biggest reasons why we don’t live the lives we long to.

Sometimes, it stops us from trying at all. Other times, we try but the fear attaches us to the outcome, so we fall short.

The more attached to outcome we are, the less happy and successful we become. Many studies have shown that attaching to outcome means that our work suffers. And we enjoy it less.

When we really want something, we’re less likely to get it.

The role of optimism



I’ve written before about how an optimistic outlook helps overcome our attachment to outcome.

The optimist doesn’t hold as much fear as the pessimist. The optimist expects everything to work out okay. So there is less fear-based attachment to outcome.

Optimists interpret events differently to pessimists. How we explain what happens in our lives is key to whether we have a positive or fearful outlook.

According to the psychologist Martin Seligman, there are 3 key criteria.

1. We can either view the cause as personal or external.

2. We can either view the event as temporary or permanent.

3. We can either view things as specific to that area of our life, or universal.

Negative Events

Here’s how an optimist and a pessimist explain negative events.

Optimist Pessimist
External Personal
Temporary Permanent
Specific Universal

Positive Events

Here’s how an optimist and a pessimist explain positive events.

Optimist Pessimist
Personal External
Permanent Temporary
Universal Specific

By learning optimistic narratives, we can give our amygdala a rest. We can become optimistic people. My amygdala could do with some downtime, so I devised a 5 day challenge.

5 Day Challenge: The Results

Over a 5 day period, I collected 5 positive events and 1 negative. Then I gave each of them an optimistic narrative.

Today I bring you the results.

Below you will find the narratives I came up with. I hope they provide a useful set of examples. Think of them as a playbook to help you create optimistic narratives for yourself.

Before sharing them, there are two things I want to say.

First, I found it uneasy developing these optimistic narratives. As you’ll see, optimists give themself credit for their achievements. They personalise their success. I found that hard, which is an interesting thing to note in itself.

Despite the discomfort, giving ourself credit is a good thing. It allows us to connect with our potency. We see ourselves as powerful rather than helpless. We have more faith in our own abilities, and we become more optimistic.

Second, I found that coming up with optimistic narratives for negative events was easy. “Something else caused it, not me. It’s temporary. It only affects that area of life.” Bish bash bosh.

But optimistic narratives for positives were tougher to formulate.

I need to assign myself as the cause of the good event. I have to give it a permanent feel. Then I have to show that other aspects of life are positively affected too.

So I devised a 3 step formula. You may find it helpful too.

I call it “I did. I am. Therefore.”

I hope you will see any self aggrandising statements as the result of this formula. Either way, this kind of self credit is more psychologically healthy than the usual self flagellation.

So here we go. Let’s get the easy one out of the way first.

My Optimistic Narratives

The negative

I’ve been ill lately. I’ve been itching badly. The anti histamines are only taking the edge off so I am in some distress.

Narrative

It could have happened to anyone. It was the result of an insect bite. One of those things.  (External not personal).

The consultant has told me that it won’t last. He has a menu of options in case the anti histamines don’t work. (Temporary).

My health otherwise is good. My blood tests showed that I’m in great nick, and I have still been productive during my illness. (Specific not universal).

Positive 1

A fellow musician invited me to lunch.

Narrative (I did, I am, Therefore)

I act in such a way that people want to spend time with me. I am well liked for who I am. This is a quality that helps me in my work, my relationships, and life generally.

Positive 2

I was productive and installed Google Analytics (yawn) onto all my websites.

Narrative

I did this despite not being well. I am a productive person and I make things happen for myself. I am someone who takes action. This is why I get so much done, not just with this particular task, but right across my life.

Positive 3

I edited the podcast that I recorded yesterday and it was a good show.

Narrative

I selected a good guest and then gave a good interview. I am someone who follows my curiosity, and I have a good sense of what topics would be interesting to cover. I am a good, interested interviewer. I am someone who follows my muse and tries out my ideas as play projects rather than just thinks about them. This sense of play and curiosity is helping to build a life that is interesting and fulfilling.

Positive 4

I received a nice compliment from someone about my writing and about me. He said he liked my writing and that he likes me.

Narrative

I have been writing a lot of posts recently, and am being open in my writing. I am a likeable person. The more I reveal about myeslf makes it easier for people to connect to me. This helps me drop old beliefs around guardedness and privacy. It also reaffirms my decisions to follow my curiosity and enjoyment above all else.

Positive 5

I sketched out eleven potential income streams. I blogged about it so others may benefit too.

Narrative

I came up with some good thinking about earning an independent living. I mapped out my own possibilities and realised there were as many as eleven. I created a blog post that shared my learning. I am a good thinker. I am always good at coming up with solutions to difficult problems. I am someone who enjoys generating systems and solutions to reach a goal. This is a quality that helps me in all areas of life, from losing lots of weight to being super productive. I feel more relaxed about financial concerns.

How about you?

Did you do the challenge too? Let me know how you did.

Do you want to do it now you’ve seen some actual examples? Give it a go. Just collect 5 positives and 1 negative. (Just one positive per day makes it more than doable.)

Then apply an optimistic narrative to each.

Give it a try because fear sucks.

Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice


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