By Carolyn Landesman
Never let fear decide your future!
Let’s say you want to change your career, get a new job, get a promotion, start your own business, what stops you in your tracks is fear! Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success, and the fear you won’t be good enough.
If this is you, what you can learn about fear from navy seals is how to conquer fear and knock it on its head.
What is Fear?
The emotion of fear typically serves as a psychological barrier designed to protect you from danger. However, as we evolved over the last 20,000 years, the fear-provoking stimuli have also changed. As a result, your response to fear is often not aligned to the degree of the actual threat. This is why when you get called into the bosses’ office, your palms get clammy and you begin to sweat as if you were being chased by a tiger.
According to Joseph LeDoux, professor of neuroscience and psychology the Center for the Neuroscience of Fear and Anxiety based at New York University. “Fear is the response to the immediate stimuli. The empty feeling in your gut, the racing of your heart, palms sweating, the nervousness—that’s your brain responding in a preprogrammed way to a very specific threat.”
That threat, of course, is putting yourself out there as a candidate for a new job.
Job hunting for some is so stressful they are paralyzed into taking no action at all.
Fight and Flight Syndrome
What happens in stressful situations, fear takes hold and you either fight back, flee the situation or freeze known as the fight and flight syndrome. Its an automatic response and when fear is triggered due to a stressful situation, two parts of the brain fight for control. The frontal lobe which forms part of the neocortex and the amygdala.
As we evolved over many hundreds of years, our brain structure changed. The amygdala, hidden in the depths of the human brain developed before the neocortex, the newest outermost layer of the brain. The amygdala forms part of the limbic system and its purpose is to regulate emotional reactions such as fear and aggression.
The neocortex is commonly known as the rational brain and deals with analytical thought and language. It’s responsible for conscious and rational decision making. As a result, we developed the ability to think ahead, make decisions, and choose our actions. This meant part of our brain liberated the automatic fight, flee or freeze response prevalent when confronted with a threat.
When you are threatened, the amygdala reacts twice as fast as the neocortex for its purpose is to protect you, no matter what.
There are some fears that are pre-programmed in the human brain such as choking, drowning, the fear of heights, and even the fear of public speaking.
Whenever you feel threatened such as losing a job, the amygdala kicks in and sends signals to the hippocampus (another part of the limbic system) which in turn releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline; to prepare your body for the fight or flight response. When this happens, your energy is hijacked and directed to the feet for running or to the hands for fighting the imminent danger.
Navy Seals are often confronted with life-threatening situations which means they must learn to overcome their fears to succeed. They are trained to increase their mental toughness with the purpose of controlling their fears in life and death situations.
They use a technique called the Big Four.
- Goal Setting
- Mental Rehearsal
- Arousal control
By utilizing these four techniques, it reduces the time from the response of the amygdala to closely match the response of the rational thinking part of the brain. This prevents the amygdala hijacking your instinctive response to fear and allows you to control your fear when looking for a new job.
1. Goal Setting
It’s by setting goals that give you purpose, it allows you to focus on what you want, not what you don’t want, when your amygdala is firing like crazy. By setting goals, it gives you a why to get out of bed each day. Well defined goals provide you with all the steps you must take in any one day in order to achieve a successful outcome. Get up, get dressed, write a resume, contact your network, look at job boards, and practice your interviewing skills.
Inspiring and motivational goals like doubling your income, getting a promotion, and nailing the interview allow you to visualize successfully landing the job of your dreams. It serves as an anchor to identify what is important in your life and believing that a positive result is possible.
2. Mental Rehearsal
Mentally rehearsing a positive outcome is key to overcoming your job-hunting fears.
Guided visualization and mental imagery are where you purposely rehearse whatever skills, routines, habits, or performance you need in your mind’s eye to reprogram yourself for success. Visualizing success develops new circuits in the brain. As you visualize success, your brain releases additional neurotransmitters to activate your senses and emotions. These neurotransmitters give you a boost of energy far more powerful than a stimulant.
Mentally rehearsing writing a powerful resume, nailing an interview, and successfully landing a new job removes limiting beliefs and fear from your psyche.
Michael Phelps is one of the most decorated Olympic athletes of all time.
A major reason for his success is, he incorporated guided imagery and visualization into his training. Bob Bowman, Phelps Coach, helped him develop a mental picture of his races every day, once in the morning and once before he went to sleep. He would visualize every aspect of a race from starting on the blocks, effortlessly swimming the race culminating in success including the celebration after the race.
Bowman would also incorporate metal imagery into Phelps training to encourage him to push harder. He would also visualize what he would do if something went wrong. The results speak for themselves with 18 gold medals and a total of 22 medals.
The very thought of looking for a new job, writing a resume, and interviewing becomes highly stressful. This threat, real or imagined, can only be fed by the amount of fear you allow infiltrate your self-talk.
The most dangerous of all habits are your mental habits. Choosing to engage in negative self-talk and feeding limiting beliefs, are habits that are easy to form and hard to discard. Telling yourself “I’ll never get a new job” or I’m lousy at interviews” only feeds your negative self-talk which leads to a negative outcome.
Affirmations are simply the way you talk to yourself, both positive and negative. A simple thing like changing one word of your habitual self-talk could immediately change your emotional patterns from a negative to a positive belief in yourself.
In much the same way you work out regularly in the gym to improve your fitness levels, muscle tone, or body shape, repeating positive affirmations regularly tones up a new mental image of yourself. Positive affirmations reprogram any negative thinking you may have had by overwriting them with positive thoughts, just like erasing an old tape recording and making a new recording.
Positive affirmations must be said as if they have already happened. For example:
“I am fantastic at interviewing. I always know the right things to say.”
“I am the right person for the promotion. I deserve success.”
“Approaching companies to hire me is easy for me.”
“I have landed the job of my dreams!”
Notice these affirmations are written in the present tense as if they already happened. It doesn’t matter at this point if you believe it, say it with passion like you believe it. Over time those neurotransmitters will kick into action and give you the self-belief and self-confidence to achieve anything you put your mind to.
4. Arousal Control
Arousal control is the art of controlling your breathing in a stressful situation. It’s more of a physical exercise as it requires you to deliberately breathe slower as it counteracts the effects of fear and panic. This is especially useful when you are about to go into an interview. Taking a slow breath in for the count of four and releasing your breath for another count of four does wonders to keeping your fear under control.
Meditation and yoga also help keep your fears under control and they encourage you to breathe slower and relax. When you change your habits you change your life.
On a Final Note
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.”
– Mark Twain
The next time you feel fear creeping up on you, be like a navy deal, set some goals, mentally rehearse a positive outcome, adjust your self-talk and fill your mind with positive affirmations and breathe slowly. If you need help with setting goals and creating positive affirmations, email email@example.com to set up a free no-obligation chat on how you can gain the momentum you need to get the results you want.
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In a Nutshell
- Fear keeps you from landing a new job, getting a promotion or advancing your career.
- Fear is the response to immediate stimuli surrounding you.
- When you feel threatened, fear takes hold and the fight or flight response kicks in.
Navy Seals are often confronted with life-threatening situations. They are trained to increase their mental toughness with the purpose of controlling their fears in life and death situations. They use a technique called the Big Four.
- Goal Setting
- Mental Rehearsal
- Arousal control
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