To understand how we can train ourselves to Fear Less and for understanding our journey to be fearing less, we have to understand a little about our brain.
Our brain is made up of 3 different parts; The Reptilian Brain, The Limbic system and the Neocortex system.
The Reptilian Brain, which is also the oldest part of our brain, that is inherited from our prehistoric ancestors, deal with the most primary and basic functions that our body requires to function – it deals with heart beat, temperature, body temperature and balance. It also provides us a basic instinct that everyone is familiar with – the instinct of “Fight or Flight”. In our early ancestors, this part of the brain provided the survival mechanism that allowed the human species to persist. Think about it, when faced with a fierce predator who is about to eat you up, your brain kicks in and flood your body with hormones, making you sweat, making your heart pump blood faster, think faster and your muscle tense up. It’s function to prep you to fight the beast and settle lunch or run form you as fast as your legs can carry you away from danger.
Everything is fine and dandy and it did a pretty good job, if not you and I won’t be here today. However, when applied in modern times, when we are always under assault from a constant pressure cooker environment, life’s pace getting faster and the never ending work and email to complete, our brain is locked onto the “Flight and Fight” mode. This saturates your body with hormones that causes all sorts of damage to you – high blood pressure, fat gain, constant stress, digestive problems etc.
The second part of the brain, the Limbic system, is in charge of controlling your emotions and memories. When directed incorrectly, the Limbic system keeps recalling the unhappy or unpleasant experience you have had. Whether its an argument with a spouse, a disagreement with a customer, or something unpleasant happened at work, the Limbic system causes you to keep recalling the unhappy memory, and lock you into thinking about it in a loop, while trying to wreck your emotions, causing further unhappiness or pain or distress. Your brain keeps imagining the situation over and over again, or worse, it keeps thinking about what would happen as a result of the situation and spirals you even deeper into negative emotions. Your Limbic system doesn’t know that the situation has passed and you can put it down now, or that the outcome is not what is imagined. Its all the same to your brain.
The third part of the brain is the newest evolved part of our brain – the Neocortex system. It is concerned with our logical thinking and language and higher-order brain functions such as sensory perception, cognition. It allows us to reflect information given to us, not just merely react. It allows us to logically think through outcomes and determine our best course of action.
We should all be utilising the power of our new brain, the Neocortex portion but unfortunately our brain usually chooses to leverage on the Reptilian part or the Limbic system, locking you into a perpetual fear mode, imagining monsters where there are none, putting stress and distress onto your body. This is also why people nowadays have a heavy reliance on anti-depressants. They need medication to reduce the noise generated by these 2 older parts of the brain.
What if we can direct our minds and leverage on its unbounded imagination to paint a more positive picture for ourselves? What if we use our neocortex portion more – setting emotions aside and let logic determine outcomes that suit ourselves?