Are Your Fears Holding You Back from Your Best Life?By Homaira Kabir
It’s no news that fear is our most self-protective emotion. To ensure our survival, it can disguise itself as intuition, color our judgment, and make us obsess about the potential dangers in our lives.
And yet, we all know that these dangers exist far more often in our perception than in reality. We avoid important conversations for fear they’ll turn into mini-catastrophes. We stay within our comfort zones so we never have to face the pain of failure. And we close down or viciously shed blame when we receive negative feedback because we believe it signals the ultimate threat of rejection.
There's not a lot we can do to change this biological mechanism of fight or flight that took millions of years to perfect its game. But there's much we can do to shift from a fear-based life to one that's open to the magical moments and infinite possibilities that surround us.
One great way of doing so is changing what Stanford University psychology professor emeritus Philip Zimbardo calls our “time perspective.” His research has found that the ability to switch time perspectives is one of the greatest mental tools we have to live our life to its fullest. When we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the negative events of our past, we reinforce the pathways of doom and despair. This is partly why rumination is so addictive—it begins to run on automatic. And given that remembering the past and imagining the future both involve many common neural regions, gloomy or frightening memories can easily lead to catastrophic predictions of the future. Voilà—the basis of perceived fear.
If you'd like to live life with greater awareness of when fear is a friend an