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Winning the Game of Fear

What Constant Fear Does to the Brain

Author: NeuroGym Team | 2021

What is your greatest and most constant fear?

Name it out loud—it’s probably on the tip of your tongue already.

Being afraid of something (or many things) is a part of life. Fear is omnipresent and has become difficult to escape from—especially in the last two years.

Your brain doesn’t like fear. It affects your thinking, and that is a major problem. You either go into fight, flight, or freeze mode which prevents you from thinking rationally.

To overcome fear, you have to take back control of the situation. You need to force your brain back in line so that it can function properly.

Fear and the Brain

What on earth was I thinking?

If you are like many other people, then the question above might be one that runs through your mind while you reflect on fearful situations. It’s a good question because it has everything to do with your brain and thinking.

Information Processing Changes

On a normal, fearless day, you think logically. Your brain has the necessary time to go over the details of a situation and come to a rational conclusion.

The cortex, which makes up a substantial part of your brain, is the part that helps you to assess risk and think logically. It has an important role.

Introduce fear into the equation, and your brain goes haywire!

Suddenly, your emotions overwhelm the cortex, and it stops functioning as it should. How do you expect your rational thinking to occur when you are flooding your brain with emotions?

It’s like expecting a child to concentrate on homework while their favorite show is on TV. The child will get distracted. In this case, rational thinking is the child: It just won’t work.

Triggers… Everywhere

Fear is often linked to trauma. It isn’t easy to overcome trauma, and the long-term effects can be detrimental to your brain—especially if they are linked to fear.

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For instance, if you were in a car accident, then you might be afraid of going on the specific road where the incident happened. You might have been bitten by a dog as a child, so you are scared of dogs (even the small ones).

You cannot avoid your fears for your entire life. A day will come when you have to drive that road or when you walk past a dog. All of these things can trigger your fear. Someone might just mention the road or a puppy, and your brain short-circuits.

Triggers are everywhere, and they remind you of your fear. This sets off a chain reaction of emotions in your brain.

Take the First Steps

Your brain is a tool that responds to triggers and fear. It also has mechanisms for you to take positive action and overcome these problems. Learn how to do this by signing up for our free virtual training on Winning the Game of Fear.

What Now?

Life moves at a rapid pace. You can’t wait for the pandemic to end, for trauma to fade away, or avoid triggers your entire life. These issues will always exist.

If you want the best for today and the future, then you have to take action. You have to learn to think clearly even when fear threatens to take over.

Understand What Happens in the Brain

The temporal lobes are a part of your brain that helps with motivation and emotions. These lobes are especially important when it comes to survival.

The amygdala is a section inside the temporal lobes, and it deals with stress. Whenever you find yourself in a fearful situation, stress becomes apparent quite quickly.

The amygdala responds to this stress by releasing large amounts of adrenaline. It pushes all the body's energy reserves to fight off the stressor or fear instead of redirecting it to rational thinking in the brain.

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Get More Information

The brain is a complex organ, but you don’t have to be a neuroscientist to understand how it works. All you need is someone who can explain it to you. In Winning the Game of Fear, we explain how your brain works in fearful situations and what you can do to rectify it.

Fight, Flight, or Freeze

Fear and the brain aren’t friends. When your brain picks up fear, it stops what it is doing and focuses on how it can survive the current circumstances. This is why the amygdala kicks your body into overdrive and elicits a response.

A fearful situation and that burst of adrenaline create one of three responses:

  1. Fight: Face the threat
  2. Flight: Run away from the problem
  3. Freeze: Do nothing

Can you identify your response to your greatest fear?

Real or Fake

Fear is a survival mechanism that tricks your body into one of the previously mentioned responses. But what good does it do you when you are afraid of something that isn’t happening at the moment?

Fear and adrenaline are useless if you are only thinking about a situation. You want your thoughts to be clear and rational—not plagued with what-ifs, images of running away, or stalling.

See, not all fear is real. It can only be real if your survival is under attack.

If your car breaks down in the middle of a desolate road where there are wild animals, then you need to fight for survival. Fear is real in this case.

If you are worried about failing a test, your survival isn’t threatened. Your fear is an emotional reaction that manifests itself in anxiety, procrastination, and similar responses.

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Face Your Fears

Are you ready to overcome your fears? Join us in learning how you can Win the Game of Fear by recognizing and releasing your greatest fears faster through meaningful actions.

Practice Self-Awareness

When you realize that most fears are an emotional response, you can start to confront your brain so that it doesn’t push you into a spiral of irrational thoughts and emotions.

Fear presents itself when that negative little voice in your head starts whispering lies. It speaks up even more when you encounter triggers, but hey, it’s only a trigger—it isn’t a threat in itself. There is no need for a huge adrenaline-fueled response.

Dissociate From Your Inner Critic

Stop listening to that little voice by giving it a name or seeing it as a character from which you can dissociate. Doing this allows you to become aware of your emotions without giving in to the stress.

The next time Frank (or whatever name you give that voice) speaks up with a “But what if I ____,” tell them to shut up and sit down. Pop their bubble right away so that their power over you becomes weaker.

The more you do this, the more you tell yourself that emotions are okay, but they aren’t allowed to interfere with your rational thinking. Once you do this, you are training your brain to think differently, and your fears fade away. You allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone.

Train Your Brain

The technique above is just one of many Innercise™ options you can do to train your brain. Explore more of these techniques and tricks in our fear-focused training, Winning the Game of Fear.

Reframe Your Constant Fear

Acknowledging that fear is an emotional response allows you to stop being scared about fake situations; instead, you start to use your fear for motivation.

One of the best ways to do this is by reframing your fear and its accompanying negative thoughts into positive thoughts, emotions, or actions. We do this through the 4R Process.

Recognize

Identify the negative thoughts or emotions you are experiencing. You can’t just ignore your feelings and fear: You have to say, “Hey! I know you are there. You make me feel ____.”

Be mindful of the emotions and reflect on them, but do so without any judgment. For a couple of moments, allow yourself to surrender and appreciate what your brain is telling you.

Reframe

Take your negative thoughts or emotions and reframe them into something more positive. Add a more constructive emotion to it or alter the words of your thought until it reflects positivity and light.

By reframing, you are playing with your ideas, thoughts, and emotions until you are in control. You no longer let the negatives run rampant; instead, you are guiding them into a different path.

Release

If you observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment, then they only last about 90 seconds. By reframing negativity, you prevent your mind from going into a loop that sets off a chain reaction of anxiety and the like.

After gaining control of your thoughts and emotions, you can release them from your brain. Say goodbye to the problem as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth 10 times.

Retrain

Now, you need to replace that space in your brain with a new neural network and positive emotions. Repeat an affirmation that reflects the truth about the situation or one that is the opposite of your previous thoughts. Visualize overcoming your fear and doing better.

Each time you manage to let go of fear, celebrate a little. Give yourself a pat on the back, smile, or do something that makes you feel great about yourself.

Fear to Fuel

It’s time for you to live your best life, and that is one free of fear. Register now for Winning the Game of Fear, and we will let you in on the secret to changing your brain from scared to motivated. It’s time for success!

About The Author

NeuroGym Team

NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.

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