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How to Control and Use Fear to Your Advantage

How to Control and Use Fear to Your Advantage
June 09
11:28 2017

If aliens exist and by happenstance were to glance down on our tiny planet, I think they would be shocked by the order of things. We humans are the dominant species on this little blue planet. Not lions, tigers, or bears, but us. Relatively small with inferior muscle mass compared to other predators and generally mediocre protection from the reality of violence. And yet, we rule this planet with no challenge from any other predators.

Some eco groups like to argue we are magically custodians of this planet due to our opposable thumbs and intelligence and whilst yes, those do help, I think the core difference between us and base animals is our innate tenacity and fear. We humans, we fear a lot. We fear the unknown, the things we do know, other people, the lack of other people, and quite honestly, everything in between. As a species we have harnessed our fears, using them to push through, adapt, evolve, and ultimately become the ultimate predator.

No matter what the odds or the environment – you can never count a human out. We are truly the most adaptable beings on this earth, all of this despite being glorified meat bags with a relatively puny endoskeleton (thanks for the correction Tadas). We don’t even have horns.

When discussing fear, it’s important to go back to our roots and understand that it has a purpose.

We fear the idea of being afraid, but practically speaking the moment you feel true fear your body shuts down non-vital functions (digestion etc.) and alters your mindset (whether you like it or not) to survive.

I was musing about this a few days ago after thinking about my first clear memory of a fight. I was maybe 5 or 6 and the only distinct memory I hold to this day is how I felt. That icy feeling washing over me and my arms feeling like they were made of lead. Blood pounding in my ears and my eyes darting everywhere frantically. Sensory overload for the first time in my life.

This was just a playground brawl, I don’t even remember who won, but to be honest, I imagine it’s likely that this kid and I just screamed at each other whilst pushing and pulling.

In hindsight, it’s a pitiful demonstration of combat, but this story will be familiar to most of you. It’s unlikely you grew up without ever getting into a scrap as a kid, and this sensation I speak of with endorphins flooding your body will be familiar to you.

I am talking about this today because we as a community often discuss the practical application of violence. We are surrounded with books and videos showing you secret krav maga techniques taught by Mossad in glossy adverts, but the feeling and complexity of fear is hardly ever discussed.

Fear is a reaction that floods our bodies with endorphins and ultimately is our greatest ally and worst enemy. It can help you power through extreme pain to perform extraordinary feats, but at the same time can cloud our judgement and leave us an indecisive wreck. At the end of the day, fear is the one constant we can anticipate in a tense situation, and it’s important to accept and understand what will no doubt happen to you instead of ignoring it under the assumption that when the time comes we will just breeze through any conflict – no fear whatsoever. That’s not likely to happen.

To accept fear we have to welcome it. The obvious symptoms are the increase in heart rate and pressure as well as the hyper-visual sensitivity we often feel due to our pupils dilating and the icy feeling we get due to our veins constricting. Couple that with our core muscle groups getting reinforced with oxygen, and it call can leave us feeling like a nervous wreck. That’s okay. What you have to understand is that this is happening to your body to help you.

When you feel the physiological manifestations of fear – know that it’s there for good reason. Heart rate increases to help us keep up in a physical conflict, pupils dilate so we can spot all movement, and that icy feeling? That’s there because our veins are constricting, re-directing the blood to the more important muscles in our body.

When you read it like that, when you understand why fear feels the way it does, it’s not so bad is it?

Fear is our body getting itself ready to survive – into fight or flight mode – and that’s pretty awesome.

The issue is that people don’t accept this fear and instead they are overcome and freeze. I get that because as a former scrawny kid, I would shy away from conflict. The reality, however, is that if you don’t accept the reality of fear and what your body is telling you, you are fighting against your own survival.

Fear Matters to Security: Control & Use It to Your Advantage

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