This feeling when you just freeze. Your whole body is stiff and unwilling to do whatever you have decided to start or proceed with; you stare at one point; you are blocked by inner fear. For me it could be a steep slope. I lean forward, I get prepared to point my skies down, I turn my upper body in the direction of the slope. I know all the theory and I have also practiced in a less frightening environment. But this time nothing happens. I can’t, I just stay still without moving. Most probably I also forget to breathe. I feel the fear spreading through the entire body. I try to understand my options. What happens if…?
Furthermore, it does not really matter if it is out in the nature or in the office, the anatomy of the fear is still the same. An interview, a meeting with a potential client, a presentation, a team-workshop, you name it. Your thoughts are blocked or jumping around in a chaotic manner. You might start thinking of giving up before even trying. What happens if…? You know at least how it was before. It is a safe option. Or you might go into a “fighting” mode. When we are scared we use one of the most basal mechanisms our brain has developed for tackling dangerous situations: fight-flight-freeze. What do you use?
We usually consider the fight-flight-freeze mechanism as limiting in everyday life. But the brain is amazing! Today we know that the brain can change its structure in response to experience, which means you can re-program your fear. The way of leveraging this quality is by becoming aware of what is happening in you in this moment. The techniques is also called mindful awareness. By becoming an observer, rather than a participant, you allow your brain to start a new learning process about the situation. The focus of attention on the process within yourself instead of identifying yourself with the feeling. It requires acceptance and compassion, but it comes with many benefits. Except for the regulation of fear, this technique contributes also to improved communication, emotional balance and agility, empathy and deepened insight in a difficult situation.
This practice is strongly connected to the practice of coaching. By asking questions, the client’s awareness raises. The process continues outside the coaching session, when the client continue observing, asking the questions and having the inner dialog. It is almost an inevitable process of coaching and a part of changing the old patterns.
Next time you are scared, feel distress or anxiety, see it as a chance to learn about yourself. Observe it, feel it and be with it. Say to yourself: “What a great opportunity to practice!” 🙂