Fear is a perfectly natural reaction that all humans have. Dating back to our ancestors, fear has been a keen response to danger that helped to keep our species alive. In today’s uncertain times, we may be finding ourselves having to deal with fear even more often. Whether it’s fear for a family member, our jobs, our teams, our country — there is plenty to be fearful about.
However, fear is not a state in which we can live in all the time. We commonly talk about facing our fears and having the courage to overcome them. Rather than fight it, we must learn to recognize this natural proclivity to feel fear and instead choose to act courageously.
Think back now to a time when you didn’t want to do something because you were afraid of the outcome. What did you do? If you acted out of fear rather than courage, then you most likely chose to avoid the situation altogether. As a result of the fear of facing a negative outcome, you chose the safer, more comfortable route. People can also often make excuses for not doing things that they are afraid of. Excuses allow us to have a feeling of justification for not doing the thing that made us afraid. We sometimes also look to denial as a means to deal with and avoid fear. If you deny a situation is real, then you can find ways to not deal with it. Sometimes we will look to blame the situation or those involved in the situation for our fear. Blaming the situation helps us rationalize and deal with our fear by transferring the problem from us to the situation. Anger is another common response to fear for two reasons. When we feel afraid, this can often spark anger as we 1) do not like the situations, and 2) we may not feel like we have much control over the situation.
At Horizon, one of our previous thought leaders termed the coin the “pentafacta of fear” to refer to these common fear responses…
I bring these up because once you begin to recognize some of the common reactions to fear, you can better control those reactions. When you find yourself in these situations and catch yourself reacting in these typical ways, try the following positive actions instead…
1. instead of avoidance… Address Wrongs
2. instead of excuses… Take Responsibility
3. instead of denial… Face the Facts
4. instead of blame… Find Solutions
5. instead of anger… Practice Unconditional Positive Respect
Fear causes us to make emotional and irrational decisions. We tend to lash out at people and can lose the respect of those who we lead due to fear. While these are natural reactions, they are controllable. Next time you catch yourself responding to fear in an unproductive manner, think of the positive action you can take instead.