Managing Fear and Anxiety For Business Success • Financially Simple

Fear and anxiety are two powerful emotions that we all experience at some point in our lives. These emotions can be our allies, warning us of danger or helping us prepare for challenges. However, they can also become adversarial, holding us back from pursuing our passions and desires. Join me, as I embark on a journey through the intricate workings of the human mind to understand how fear and anxiety are processed, how they manifest in our lives, and most importantly, how to overcome them.

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Demystifying Fear

Fear is an ancient and primal emotion that has played a crucial role in our survival as a species. When you encounter a venomous snake on a hiking trail or a speeding car headed your way, fear kicks in – and that’s a good thing. It’s your brain’s way of saying, “Pay attention! This is dangerous!” At the heart of fear lies the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure tucked deep within your brain’s temporal lobe.

The amygdala processes emotional responses, particularly fear and the fight-or-flight response. It’s like your brain’s early warning system. But here’s the kicker – the amygdala reacts quickly to perceived threats. Often, before your conscious mind is even aware of them. This rapid response triggers physical changes, such as increased heart rate and heightened alertness, preparing your body to either face the threat or run from it.

Managing Fear and Anxiety: The Overreaction

Although the amygdala serves a real and necessary function, it sometimes goes into overdrive. Don’t believe me? Just look at arachnophobia – the irrational fear of spiders. For most people, spiders pose no immediate danger and are usually harmless. However, for those with arachnophobia, encountering a spider can be a heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping experience.

Another example of this excessive fear response is my wife, Emily. Friends, Emily is scared to death of mice. It’s not a mild fear – it’s a full-blown phobia. Because we live on a farm, it isn’t uncommon for us to see field mice in the chicken coop. When Emily encounters a mouse, her amygdala goes into hyperdrive. I have seen my wife climb to the top of our tractor, screaming to get away from the vicious rodent that is clearly set on destroying her body.

Interestingly, Emily’s fear response mirrors that of the mouse she’s so terrified of. You see, it’s a phobia, and we can’t help but chuckle every time she encounters a mouse. The amygdala’s overreaction in both cases showcases how it can trigger intense fear responses even when the threat is minimal.

Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. Unlike fear, which is a response to immediate threats, anxiety is a persistent concern about potential future outcomes. It’s the voice in your head that keeps you up at night, worrying about what might happen tomorrow or next year.

As a business owner, you’ve undoubtedly experienced anxiety. If you really think about it, you can probably think of something that has kept you up at night. For one of my dear friends, it was the fear that one of his team members would be hit by a car. You see, he owns a ditch-digging business. Therefore, this is a genuine risk for his team. As a result, he’s spent many sleepless nights worrying about “what if… ?” These are classic signs of anxiety.

But our businesses aren’t the only source of anxiety in our lives. Think about relationship anxiety. Do you ever worry about the health of your marriage, even when the evidence suggests you’re in a happy and stable relationship? Anxiety will keep your mind buzzing with questions. “What if they leave me?” or “Am I doing enough to meet all of their needs, or are they harboring resentment toward me?” These are the kinds of concerns that characterize anxiety.

Fear and Decision-Making

Friends, the real problem is that fear can be a significant obstacle when it comes to pursuing your passions and desires. Research in psychology and neuroscience has shed light on how this emotion significantly impacts decision-making and actions. As one paper written by George Loewenstein and his colleagues states:

“Fear causes us to slam on the brakes instead of steering into the skid, immobilizes as when we have greatest need for strength, causes sexual dysfunction, insomnia, ulcers, and gives us dry mouth and jitters at the very moment when there is the greatest premium on clarity and eloquence.”

Friends, when fear, especially the fear of failure, takes hold, it often leads to a heightened state of vigilance and caution. While caution can be beneficial in some situations, it can also result in hesitation and avoidance of risks or challenges. Essentially, fear can make you overly concerned about potential negative outcomes.

A great example of this is the story of Amelia Earhhart. In the early 20th century, when aviation was still in its infancy, Amelia harbored a passion for flying. However, her fear of failure and societal expectations held her back initially. The thought of not meeting the expectations placed on the women of her time made her hesitate to pursue her dream.

Eventually, Amelia overcame her fear, becoming a pioneering aviator who made remarkable contributions to the field of aviation. Had she given in to her fears, none of us would have learned about her in grade school. Her journey exemplifies how understanding and managing fear and anxiety is crucial in pursuing one’s passions and achieving extraordinary feats.

The Paralyzing Grip of Anxiety

Anxiety can be equally paralyzing, if not more so, when it comes to pursuing your passions and desires. Anxiety about the future can lead to overthinking and rumination about potential negative outcome, trapping you in a cycle of worry and unease. In other words, anxiety leaves us prone to paralysis by analysis. 

Just imagine you’re preparing for a meeting with prospective investors. Anxiety creeps in, and suddenly, you find yourself doubting your abilities. You worry excessively about not being good enough, and this doubt takes a toll on your confidence. As a result, the effectiveness of your presentation is affected.

Managing Fear and Anxiety: Faith and Science

The age-old wisdom of Proverbs offers insights into dealing with fear and anxiety. Proverbs 3:5-6 advises us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your path.” This timeless wisdom emphasizes faith and surrender when facing fear and anxiety, highlighting the importance of relying on a higher power.

Furthermore, Proverbs 12:25 reminds us that “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” You see, scripture reveals to us, the significance of seeking emotional support and the positive impact it can have on our wellbeing. When we connect these biblical principles to the science of the mind, we can appreciate how faith and social support can complement evidence-based therapeutic techniques.

Faith in the Face of Fear and Anxiety

As someone who has personally grappled with fear and anxiety, I’ve found solace in faith. When anxiety or fear grips me, I’ve learned to recast and recenter my faith. It’s like a lifeline that helps me navigate turbulent emotional waters.

Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This verse reminds me that faith is the foundation on which hope rests. When fear or anxiety clouds my vision, I cling to this truth.

Similarly, Philippians 1:6 offers profound reassurance – “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” In moments of doubt, I remember that my journey is a work in progress, and there’s a higher purpose guiding it. 

Ephesians 6:13 encourages me to stand strong – “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” It’s a reminder that I’m not alone in facing my fears and anxieties. I truly believe that God has placed a desire in my heart that He will see to completion, and all I have to do is my best.

And finally, Psalm 37:4 provides a beacon of hope – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This verse reminds me that God’s plans are far greater than my own, and by delighting in His guidance, I can overcome fear and anxiety.

Wrapping Up…

Friends, fear and anxiety are formidable foes that can hold us back from pursuing our passions and desires. Understanding the science behind these emotions is the first step toward conquering them. The amygdala’s role in fear and the prefrontal cortex’s ability to help us manage fear and anxiety are vital insights.

But it’s not just science – wisdom from Proverbs and faith play crucial roles in managing fear and anxiety. Trusting in a higher power and seeking support from our community can complement evidence-based therapeutic techniques.

As we conclude this journey through fear and anxiety, remember that your passions and desires are worth pursuing. Don’t let these emotions dictate your path. If you do, true wealth is impossible. Instead, leverage the wisdom of science, faith, and community to overcome fear and anxiety, and embrace the life you truly desire.

Has fear and anxiety prevented you from achieving your full potential in business and in life? Reach out to our team to learn how we could help you move forward in confidence!

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