This episode covers chapter 3 of the Fear is Fuel book, which covers what fear tells are, how we can find ours, and how a dance with the angel of death can bring things into focus.
Reed Smith 0:04
Welcome to the fear face podcast, where we control fear instead of letting it control us.? Tracking my personal Journey into Fear, hearing about fear from of others, and using the latest neuroscience fear forward. For today's episode, we get into chapter three of the fears feel book, and explore what fear pills are and how we can teach discover our own fear will then get into the fear is fuel Myth number three, which is a dance with the angel of death. Let's go.
looming near I feel the sickle back and forth, quite the pickle, drink it down, feel so numb, forever pressed beneath the thumb, run away a chance to hide, only you can fix your inside. To start things off, do a quick recap on the things we've covered in the first two chapters of the fears fuel book, and also some of the things we've mentioned, and the other episodes. So we've covered the science around fear, memories, experiences and prior beliefs tie into that and how those invoke our amygdala and limbic systems and how about forcing awareness and making decisions in the moment of fight flight or freeze. We allow the prefrontal cortex to wrestle and hold control. We also broken down by doing this directly and frequently makes us better at it lets us harness the heightened awareness of that state will interfere frontier to contribute to the decisions we make, instead of a being wasted on subconscious action. I do want to point out that that subconscious action and that kind of outdated fight flight or freeze response, you know, there is definitely still a place for it in the world. So think of me stepping out of the way of a speeding vehicle in a crosswalk. There are obviously still situations that need drastic and instantaneous action. But because we live in the modern world and there are fewer of that that we interact with daily. Our survival instinct is only filling us if we continually choose to not be in control to make the best choices possible. And we're not Tarzan's in loincloths wandering around in the jungle. Everything around us is trying to kill us or can kill us and we're having to define food and water to survive each day. It was the same system in our brain is in place. And it really needs to be forced to adapt to the modern world. That's what this is all about. The more threatening or dangerous The thing is interpreted by the amygdala, the higher their survival response rates up to react. The extreme examples are easy understand what about all those little things that push us into our fear frontier without us realizing it? About that text or phone call or email that causes the same physical sensations,
having to interact with your boss or that one person at work, maybe a friend, family member, or even a TV show. Think about how just watching a scary movie can cause it to trigger these anxiety ridden physical manifestations does that really serve a useful purpose? watching something happen we know is not real, and it's not happening to us can cause all the same sensations as if it actually was. The goal now is for us to learn about those sensations and realize how often they are triggered. So we know when we are more vulnerable to make irrational decisions or at a minimum, be operating with less brainpower finding our fear tails, best way to figure them out is to plan a scary activity right now. You hate public speaking about you make reservations at a restaurant and plan to stand up and have a toast in the middle of the restaurant. scared of heights. Pick a time in the next few days to climb something tall and look down. You single have a crush, plan on a date, ask them out. Even just scheduling the things you're afraid of can trigger our fear tails so we can start to detect them. The closer it gets to the show tab scheduled on the scheduled day, the more those reactions will ramp up and become obvious. This is a really good example. In the book The author gives of you know he does several seminar and workshop type meetings all over the world every year. And one of his favorite things to do is to invite people up on stage to sing. So you know just imagine that you sign up for something for some event, you go to anything, you're just sitting in the crowd, maybe you learn something and all of a sudden the gal on stage points at you and tells you to come up on stage and you're going to sing with them. Now even if you're not necessarily afraid of singing, there's a lot going into that interaction that can cause fear. And he never actually makes these people sing on stage just as their you know he can see that the terror in their faces. They Walk up on stage and you'll ask them to describe and think about how they're feeling. You know, then they'll, you know, use that example, let them go sit back down. But we really don't know what those fear tails are until we do something fearful. And while we're in that state, or in that fear frontier, we pay attention to the things going on in our body. Good quote from the book, anticipation magnifies fear, because fear is all about what might happen. Fear is hardly ever about what is really happening right now. So think about that. How freeing would it be to get to a place where you built such resilience to fear that you no longer crumble with the anticipation of stressful events. I mean, I can think of that, you know, a good example for me is, you know, work if there's a day job, if there's a really high risk, high impact type of work that needs to be done on the weekend, you know, say that's done on let's get on like a Saturday night, I'm thinking about it. I have anxiety about it all week, because I've experienced so many things going poorly is some within my control a lot with that outside of my control. But you know, I've worst case, second thing I've thought my heading off, I've worked 72 hours straight before, you know, something blew up on a Friday and I had to work all weekend to essentially rebuild it from the ground up. So now they're part of that there's a fear somewhere in there that like everything that has potential impact, the anticipation of it going wrong, even though it may not go wrong, causes anxiety, you know, a week ahead of time every day leading up to that event. So when you have scared yourself, pay close attention to all the sensations you feel and write them down. From the book. I'll list some common fear tails. butterflies in the stomach. sweaty palms, tight jaw, pinch shoulders, trembling hands, shaky legs, hot flashes, tight back muscles, racing heart, chills, choking, goosebumps, shortness of breath, dizziness, dry mouth, need to urinate, feeling faint, ringing in your ears, diarrhea, higher pitched voice infusion or disorientation, shallow breathing, inability to remember things. As you get more and more comfortable with fear, you will react less and act more reaction is the opposite of a well thought out decision thrive. So if we break apart, you know the difference between react and act, the reaction and action, reacting only solve the immediate question of how to quickly stop the threat. This is a single decision not weigh with consequences of what might happen two or three steps later. being in control, acting, well, that still might have all the same physical sensations ensures you are in control to make the most rational choice. I think a good example is, you know, think of somebody that sat down and has never played checkers before. And you explain to them how to play it, most people are only going to be thinking about that first move as they move. So the minute they see,
you know, an opportunity to take a piece, the first piece they see they're gonna go ahead and move that piece, check a piece jump over it. Maybe without realizing that that taking that one piece of data them into you know, getting two or three jumps on their own pieces, and losing the game. So chess versus checkers, that situation makes a lot of sense. Everyone has hidden fears. So if you thought to yourself, I can't think of anything I'm afraid of. Maybe you need to expose yourself to more things to help those come to light, good quote from the book, hidden fears conceal themselves by creating a fight response, making us want to be right, instead of curious. Or often those fears hide themselves and a set of rules we feel compelled to follow. So we read that again, it's really important. Hidden fears, conceal themselves by creating a fight response. Making us want to be right. Instead of curious, are often those fears hide themselves and a set of rules we feel compelled to follow. So ask yourself why you follow certain rules and why you believe certain things and it will often break down to reveal it reveal a central hidden fear. Be courageous and honest. An example I thought of while reading this, you know, if there's something out there that somebody can talk about that triggers you, you just get really upset right away. There may very well be a fear period buried in there. Not always. But it's a good example. You may be getting triggered because the fear of them being right would mean that whatever you believe is so wrong. And maybe that would that way that you being wrong as you more upset than then being right. Or we all know somebody that has to be right all the time. Maybe it's somebody start telling a story. And it's Oh yeah, I've done that. Or Oh, yeah, I wouldn't do that. Or, you know, yeah, I've heard I hear you. But here's a story that's worse. You know, somebody that just always has to be right and maybe it comes from Good place, maybe they think they're being relatable or trying to connect with you. But a lot of times they're projecting some hidden fear there. You know, a popular one nowadays is, you know, FOMO, you know, fear of missing out on something like even if they're lying, they want to say that something you've done, they've also done just so they maybe they don't want to feel alone feel like they're missed, they missed out on something because they can't talk about that with you. Now, the author gives us a very personal and very powerful story. I mentioned in chapter one, the chapter one podcast how he gave an example of how he had a crippling fear of flight. Due to a deep seated memory of a crash, he saw on the news when he was a child, and that how that carried through his life. And he missed out on a lot of collegiate and professional opportunities. That didn't actually prevent him from being successful. He tells us a story. how, you know, successful in college, got out, got into the tech world that was very successful as an entrepreneur, they're starting businesses made some good money is doing so well that he actually, he had a goal, caught at 40 by 40. So to make to be worth $40 million, by the time he was 40. So clearly financially, seeing a lot of success. One day, he went to the gym, which was part of his essentially, what he described as kind of his crash cycle is he was miserable. So he would work all day eating crap and trash on the move as he would go. He would numb himself getting drunk every night. And then you wake up in the morning and feel guilty for drinking and go to the gym very early and just kind of sweat out the alcohol. And that he maintained that system for years, and it just random into the ground. So one day, in the gym, a sharp pain and his arm liba, the next day was starting to swell and get red elecric staph infection went to the doctors and long story short, he found out he had a rare type of leukemia. And it was progressed enough that the doctors told him to go ahead and get his affairs in order. So I mentioned at the top of the episode, you know, kind of the the dance of the Angel of Death is fears fueled Myth number three. So here was the example he had of our mortality, can really pump the brakes and force us to fade some face some truths we may not like about ourselves. And that's what, that's what happened to him for sure. sort of thinking critically about the decisions he's made and where he's ended up and the cost of his professional success with his family, how he's never, you know, taken his daughter to Disney World, as an example, really said, almost instantaneously, it forced him thinking, you know,
he wasn't going to have them somewhere to live. It forced him to stop thinking about his fears, and what he was afraid of, and all the things that gave him with stress and anxiety, and forced him to focus on his wife, daughter and unborn son. So add some context to that Medical News. You know, his, his wife was pregnant, very pregnant, he was six months pregnant, his unborn son at the time, so just awful timing for the family in general. And he described how he realized he started to think about his life and his eating time, we thought about what he was doing in his head, it was almost like a horror movie. It was always about him. It was always like a fight response. He was always afraid and like running from something. Whereas now you want it to live. You know, he didn't want to die. He realized all these things he hasn't done all the opportunities he's missed out on. He wanted to live in describes it, you know, he realized his life could be an action movie, or adventure film or even a comedy. I liked the way he described that. No, think about the way we think about ourselves through the day or if we have something we're afraid of doing tomorrow. What do we typically typically think about? Usually, it's going to be imagining the worst case scenarios and that's where I can kind of see the parallel where he describes his own situation as thinking of everything as a horror movie. You know, we're, we're thinking about all these scenarios that are statistically probably not going to happen and really torturing ourselves like a hoarder like in a horror movie. So we didn't know how much longer he had to live and decided with what time he had left. He was going to conquer his fear of flying and promised his daughter that they would he would, they would go to Disney World. His fear of flying was his biggest fear. He was his deepest rooted fear. We talked about prior beliefs and hidden fears and how that stuff get started early age, again, that fear of flying that was embedded in he was a child. He was now forcing himself to conquer his deepest fear. And he describes just the crippling terror he had when he went to his first flying lesson, but he kept thinking of, you know, just being dead. And then the promises It'll be unfulfilled to his family. So even you know, as he's approaching the building just to take one step at a time and get closer and closer and can feel those fear tails we were talking about getting more profound. The closer you get to embracing this fear, he actually described, it's not in this chapter. But on the Art of Manliness podcast, I discovered this book that I also mentioned in an introduction to this podcast episode, forget the episode number of my head. But he mentioned how on his first flight, he actually peed himself twice. And I believe the second flight, he actually moved in his pants. So I mean, his reactions were bad enough. I mean, those were the physical manifestations going on wasn't just feeling the anxiety. I mean, his body was was purging in a way as well. But it's interesting. One of the, you know, one of the strategies he had before he built up the courage to go take that first flying lesson was he read hundreds of said over 100 FAA. Accident reports, they really educated himself on kind of the statistics around, you know, why am I scared of flying? And how much how much should I actually be scared about. And once he saw those statistics, which we'll get into in a while, that gave him the courage, you know, well, flying is actually really safe. So I can go do this. And I think there's a useful lesson in there that a lot of the things we're afraid of, if we can somehow tie it to reality, and some objective truths and put some some numbers to it. That helps it if take this subjective horror movie in our mind, and get it out on paper and start to map it, you know, map the statistics out, map it to numbers, that makes sense. I think it helps us categorize our fear and may help us take that first step. So by his third flight, his first two test flights were awful. But by his third flight, he found himself thinking more of the statistics, really thinking of the physics of how the plane actually flies in the data he had read. After a few weeks, so a few more lessons, he actually found himself enjoying the fly. So from pure abject terror in a few weeks to actually enjoying flight. So not only did he go on to earn his private pilot's license, he also got rated for his commercial license, and eventually started doing acrobatic flying competitions, you know, so those are the, the small planes where you're flying upside down, and you've got a smoke trail, and you're making circles and flying close to the ground. So again, pure terror of flying to he found he loved it so much, that he went Canada to the highest level of civilian can go outside the military, which is this, you know, this acrobatic flying competitions, a good excerpt of the book talks about also the hack for fear of flying. And he lists his first 330 percent, last 550 percent,
and 20,000 years. What it means is that the first three minutes of any commercial flight in the last five minutes combined for almost all of the fatalities, the simple idea is setting your watch for three minutes, feel free to be scared all you want the first couple of minutes, then enjoy the flight turbulence and all do the same thing at the end, except that turbulence may feel uncomfortable, but it won't cause a crash, and expect it to get bumpy at some point. So you're ready for the ups and downs, the 20,000 number might be the best one. If you flew every day on a commercial flight, you would have to do so for 22,000 years to get a fatal crash based on the safety statistics of the past 60 years. This limited bit of knowledge, if you believe in it, this should help the uncertainty that causes fear during flight. So again, first 330 percent last 550 percent 20,000 years. So the first three minutes, last five minutes account for 80% of all major plane accidents. And it will take you 20,000 years of flying if you flew every day to run into one of these scenarios. So the author obviously survived his leukemia did go into remission. He survived it is, you know, wrote this book. And one of my favorite quotes he talks about during that time was he says, I decided that the only real truth in life is death. We have rules and constraints entered into our subconscious database, and we are blindly believing that they are all true. They are not. This now saw clearly. Curiosity is the secret to living a happy, successful life. Being right, doing what's expected. Believing rules around bending and running scared are the ingredients for a miserable life. So when you're training your mind and body, there will always be ups and downs. But the progression is always up. Just not straight up. So over time, would this be a linear charting up graph? Sure. But all the data points on the underlying that capture the ups and downs we all have as we try to improve and do things I'm going to listen to some of my favorite quotes out of this chapter, I think tie in really well with what we're talking about. Ego driven motivations for self respect, and self esteem will never lead to greatness. Fear and ego can lead to riches and fame, but there is never enough of it. So it's all about the future, never about the present. So think about all the things you do your own life and all the things I do in my life. What is our real motivation for them? It's just our ego. The author, really what he's getting at is he really recommends thinking about the things we love and using though, as motivation, so really external, externally motivated instead of internally motivated. For these bigger projects, yes, intrinsic internal motivation is important as this one. But if you've been having trouble being successful at something, and you realize you've been doing it for yourself, maybe think about doing it for someone else, or about someone else, or to help someone else. authenticity and confidence are the foundations of greatness. constantly looking for outside validation to gain respect or confidence only amplifies feelings of inadequacy, love of family, spouse, children, friends. That can that's the kind of love that can inspire people to charge into burning buildings. Think about it, what would you do for someone you love? Fear has a terrible way of clouding decisions and authenticity. What great unknown Joy has fear locked away from you? What happiness? Are you trading for a misconceived idea of safety or rules? When is the last time you scared yourself on purpose? When you're scared, how closely do you pay attention to the sensations you feel? That's the actionable step here. To go through chapter three. Think about you know, have you ever scared yourself on purpose. So gave examples earlier of depending on what you're afraid of what you can do to actually scheduled ahead of time and start to pay attention to that those fear tails as that date approaches gets closer. And I'll end with this final quote from the book, I think is profound and a nice way to wrap things up. Who could you be if you started that company? Or made that phone call? Or follow that intuition? Who would you be if you had the courage to be the person everyone who counts on you need you to be? So if you're alone or feel like you're alone? And you're thinking, Well, you know, I don't have that extra motivation, I'll have something to do some do something for just thinking about the silver lining when that when, when it's just you. You have all the control?
There's no one to let down, except yourself. Now, think about any instructor pretty much across any field. What type of client would they rather have? They rather teach someone who's a clean slate. or teach someone who has to unlearn bad habits and retrain themselves. Don't be discouraged. If you're bad at something because you haven't done it before. It's how it's supposed to be. Don't compare yourself to somebody that's been doing it for so long. Because again, if if you're wanting to start a new hobby, well, maybe one of your friends is doing it. Again, it may be frustrating to be bad at something, be scared at something, maybe you feel like you're not doing enough, but one step into that one step deeper into that. So you string those wins together till you add those plots on that data graph. That over time will be some ups and downs, but it will be a linear line of progress. As always, thanks so much for the support. I should listen to the episode and I heard you not just listen but really take action. I'd like to end as many of the episodes with actionable items as I possibly can. I still like to hear about I've got some great feedback so far. And keep it coming. Reminder follow @fear faced at fear faced on found that on all social media YouTube platforms almost live courageously.