Fear is normal, we just need to learn to dance with it

By Maurice Tanel

In the above video, ‘How to overcome fear’ presented by Trevor Ragan, he brilliantly explains how fear can keep us in our comfort zone. In this blog I have highlighted some of my more important take aways from the video along with some reflective questions that will hopefully help you to look inward when dealing with the concept of fear.   

Fear is why we want to play it safe, why we don’t like change and why we avoid situations where we might make mistakes. We want to beat fear but are constantly challenged on how to meet the struggle. Do we fight it head on or dance with it? 

To learn how to beat fear we have to begin with the science of our brain. Science shows that fear is hard wired into our brain to keep us safe from real danger. The problem…is that the portion of our brain, which is referred to as the ‘Lizard Brain’, can’t distinguish between what is good for us or what is real danger.  Our ‘Lizard Brain’ is not able to distinguish if the situation is; a good challenge or a dangerous challenge, a good risk or a dangerous risk, a good out of my comfort zone moment or a threatening out my comfort zone moment. The hard wiring of our brain will naturally want to pull us back from the challenge because the ‘Lizard Brain’ recognizes these situations of, Uncertainty, Attention, Struggle and Change as danger.  

Now…this is excellent if it something is dangerous but not if you want to learn. Fear is a great instinct to keep us out of trouble but the ‘Lizard Brain’ doesn’t know if the situation is good for us or dangerous. Fear wants to keep us in our comfort zone. It wants easy over hard, play it safe rather take a risk, to do what we are good at rather try something new, to be comfortable, not struggle.  

When we feel fear we come up with a story or justification to not do the thing

When we are presented with a learning or challenging situation our ‘Lizard Brain’ will naturally want to take the path of least resistance and keep us in our comfort zone. Everyday we are faced with problems, obstacles, challenges, and change and when we are faced with these, we have a choice to lean into it and treat it as an opportunity or stay in our comfort zone. Our ‘Lizard Brain’ wants the fast the easy and it wants it now. If we make the choice to accept easy over hard, play it safe rather take a risk, to do what we are good at rather try something new…the Lizard Brain wins. 

Everyone has something that they want to do, they could do, that they should do but when the time comes we hide in our comfort zone. We dream, we create a vision and we chase that vision. And as we get closer you feel you don’t belong there. You feel out of place and that everyone is better than you. 

Fear is a powerful force. It can rob us from taking action to learn and experiencing great moments that can help us grow and get better.

When you feel fear from a new experience, it means you are going in the right direction of doing something special. When the Lizard Brain speaks to you, you should do the opposite of what it wants you to do. We want to embrace fear and be excited that it is speaking to you because you care about your dream and you want to acknowledge this is a signal of a new learning experience towards your vision. When faced with a challenge, we want to use fear to tell us we are where we want to be and not let it tell this is dangerous.  

Growth requires that we learn how to change our thinking about what fear is. It is important to understand it, reframe how we feel about it and create strategies on how to beat it.  


Some questions to reflect on::

When faced with a learning or challenging situation do you feel tension and fear?  

What is your story/justification when presented with a learning or challenging situation?

How is your fear keeping you in your comfort zone and getting in the way of an opportunity? 

What stories are you creating to justify your actions?  

What stories can you build to help you ‘dance’ with fear and guide you towards your vision? 

Fear is normal we just have to keep dancing with it. It is important to use fear, feel fear and let fear guide you. But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…DON’T let the Lizard drive!!! 

‘Don’t focus on the performance results that will get you noticed but rather the actions that will help you improve’

For further information on this or any other questions you may have, please feel free to contact Maurice (Moe) Tanel by email at [email protected]