Some amounts of fear and stress can push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance - productive discomfort.
Too much fear can be paralyzing.
- Afraid of spiders?
- How about standing up and making a presentation?
- Terrified when your boss asked you into her office?
- Afraid to say "hello" to that attractive person at the bar?
Too much fear and anxiety is counter-productive and debilitating. This is true at work, at home, in public speaking, at a bar, or on the battlefield.
Paralyzed with "stage fright?"
No group of people understand fear, and the need to manage it, better than the US Navy SEALS.
Years of research, experimentation and training have led the SEALS to create of the “Big Four” method of controlling fear and increasing mental resilience.
It works for them, and it will work for you.
The "Big Four" Ways of Controlling Your Fear:
#1 Goal Setting
Focus on one simple goal at a time; a goal beyond the point of fear. “When this is over, I will go home and have macaroni and cheese for dinner.” “After completing this task, I will receive a promotion.”
#2 Mental Rehearsal
Also known as “creative visualization,” a sub-set of the “power of positive thinking.” Athletes, musicians and public speakers use this technique consistently. Imagine, "visualize," yourself succeeding at your task, executing at the top level of performance. Be specific, mentally walk yourself through each step required to meet with success. And then, repeat. Make it a pattern, a reflex. According to neuroscientists, mental visualization is just as important as conducting actual practice.
#3 Self Talk
Studies show that we say 500 to 1000 words to ourselves each minute. Never speak to yourself with negative terms, “You wimp.” Instead, use positive phrases."Come on!" "Let's go!" "You can do this!” “Step up to the podium.” Instructional self-talk walks us through a specific task. And, when talking to yourself, calling yourself by your own name “David”, or “you” has been proven to be more effective than calling yourself “I.”
#4 Arousal Control
SEALS are taught bio-feedback and breathing control to mitigate crippling fears. One common method used to control arousal is the “4×4 breathing technique.” Begin by inhaling deeply for 4 seconds and follow with 4 seconds of steady exhaling; the long exhale is critical. Repeat for at least one minute. This technique provides increased oxygen to the brain.
Fear is the mind killer…
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” - Frank Herbert, “Dune”
Go ahead, stand up and be heard. What are you afraid of?
(c) David J. Katz