Fear, the mind and peak performance
We are all aiming for some level of peak performance in different areas of our lives, but are your fears stopping you? Fear, the mind and peak performance are all intricately linked.
To understand fear, we need to understand where it begins, where it lives and where it thrives. We need to know what the effects of fear are, and how it can either keep us alive, send us into overdrive, or have us sitting in a crumpled heap on the floor.
Human Design has been a powerful tool in my life. It has further broadened, expanded and laser focused me into uncovering the roots of my fears, anxieties, stresses and pressures and how the mind plays a role in distorting reality and keeping me “safe”.
On a primal level we all want to be safe and secure and at the root of what it means to be a human being is this innate drive for survival. Our survival fears are what have kept us alive. When we know what to fear, and what to avoid we get to stay safe and live another day. When we know what poses us no threat or danger, we can move towards it, and embrace it into our lives, and potentially move from just surviving to thriving.
The interesting thing about fear is that it is imagined in the mind, yet it triggers a host of physical and emotional responses in our bodies. Fear feels very real – even if it begins as something imagined by the mind. Left unchecked the mind can get carried away, amplifying and distorting things in a way that can immobilise and paralyse us into inaction. It can render us useless, and unable to move forward at all in our lives.
On one hand fear can be healthy and supportive and on the other hand it can be unhealthy and crippling.
When it is healthy, it is like a signpost, pointing us in the right direction. A small dose of fear, and a little bit of stress can actually help move us along in life. It can have us stepping out of our comfort zones, breaking into new areas, and learning and achieving things we never thought we could. It moves us into action and stops us from stagnating.
When it is unhealthy it can be based on false claims and end up being distorted and totally unjustified. Unhealthy fears tend to be rooted in old paradigms, outdated conditioning, or some form of judgement or criticism in relation to where we are versus where we think we should be in life. Fear like this builds into high levels of anxiety, pressure, stress and worry and ultimately have us behaving in unsupportive ways and unhealthy ways. With out checks and balances in place to be aware of how much is too much stress, how much is too much anxiety, how much is too much pressure in our lives, we can get pushed over the edge into either super drive or overdrive both of which ultimately lead to us crashing. Our systems were simple just not designed to handle and sustain constant and high levels of pressure, stress, anxiety and fear. When we get stuck in these fear based mental or psychological states and we don’t know we are there we are in trouble.
How do we find the right balance?
How do we find the right balance, and know when to embrace our fears, and when to let go of them? Answering this question, is the key to reaching peak performance, and surrendering to life in a way that helps you move from just surviving to thriving.
Letting go of the mental story and fear barriers
Rock climbing has certain dangers associated with it, and certain fears around that. The height of the climb, the integrity of the gear you are using, the type of rock you are climbing, the difficulty of the climb and your ability to climb it without falling, the trustworthiness of your climbing partner, and many others. Yet if one was to prepare for and be comfortable with all these factors, whether you are a beginner or elite climber, as you approach your limits of what you think are physically possible for YOU, fears will be activated.
Your fears likely stem from your perceived lack of ability or skill level. From any worries, fears and anxieties about what could happen to you if you fail if you make a mistake. Fears of failure, and what others may think or say if you don’t succeed. Fears around judgements and criticisms from others or yourself. If you attempt to climb while this whirlwind of mental fears is storming through your mind, it is almost certain that your performance and ability to climb with be significantly hampered.
The clutter of fears in your mind will be like sand in a cog, sticking and painfully grinding, preventing you from letting go, being in the flow and just allowing your body to do what it naturally does – move dynamically. When you just let go, you often surprise yourself with what you can achieve, sometimes doing things you thought were impossible.
While you hold onto and carry the burden of these fears, you will essentially be crippling and paralysing your ability to be in a flow state – where your ability to perform at your peak resides.
In a rock-climbing guide called clip and go written by John Long and Duane Raleigh they speak to how to approach your perceived physical limits and when you can let go of the mental story, and just climb, you can often achieve the most amazing results. Each time we prepare to do something we have never done before; our minds will chime in and our fears and doubts will be stirred up from deep dark places within us. If you step onto a rock climb with this baggage you will find the process frustrating and difficult, yet if you can shed all of it and allow you body to flow through the climb, free to work its magic, your performance will speak for itself.
“At the true edge of the possible, it almost seems that the harder you “try” the worse you do. Let yourself go. Don’t be afraid…and most of all enjoy” J Long & D. Raleigh
Understanding where our fears come from.
To find balance, show up effectively, accessing all of our potential, we need to know and understand where our fears come from. What are the roots of the fears and why are they there? Many of our fears live on an unconscious level, our primal fears, our conditioned or habitual response fears – the fears that we have learned along our path of life. In addition, we have fears that emerge through things we learn, read, or see. They do not stem from any direct experience, yet we fear them just as strongly as if we had. Other fears are based on our fears for the future. A projected and imagined outcome from a behaviour or action and the outcome we think will happen as a result. Each of these fears resides in our minds, in our imagination, where we are predicting a painful or undesirable outcome which amplifies the fear.
The issue for many of us, that we can often be unaware that we even have a fear and be oblivious to the fact that these hidden fears are driving our behaviour and actions towards or away from different things in our lives. The results of this often-having disastrous outcomes for us, as we can feel stuck or blocked from reaching our peak potential because we are too afraid to take the steps we need to get there. If we continue to allow these unedited ‘films’ to run through our minds while we are attempting to fulfill our potential, we will essentially be stopped in our tracks before we even get off the starting gate.
Unpacking hidden fears.
Each time we “see” a fear that is holding us back, we can start to alter our relationship to whatever caused the fear in the first place. Each time we are able to let go of a fear, we free up our potential and are able to access our peak performance in all sorts of areas of our life.
Extreme sports and my experience of fear
For most of my life I have been involved in what others call extreme sports. Sports that from the outside looking in have high risks associated with them and by association fears that come along with that too.
I have skydived, wing suited, base jumped, wing suit base jumped, rock climbing, summited mountains, done high board diving and kite surfing. Each of these sports demands a certain level of physical ability, preparation for what you are about to execute, understanding of the gear, knowledge of the associated risks, and ways to mitigate that. You can often be presented with challenging and changing environmental conditions and need to interact with other people who are crippled by their own fears, and project those onto you. In base jumping in particular, although, I have felt it in all of these sports in varying degrees, when the intensity of fear escalates, it can be difficult to perform in the way that you need to in order to execute your jump in safe and controlled way.
For me there is this emotional, spiritual, and energetic component to being able to filter through all the “clutter” in my mind, and in the environment, to find a place within me that has a knowing of my ability in relation to the fear and the risk presented. My ability to securely tap into this tells me that even though I feel fear, even though there are risks, I know that in this moment I feel competent to execute the jump. I have the ability in this space to weigh everything up, to balance it out in terms of fear that is justified versus fear that is unjustified. Like a dimmer switch on a light I can dial down the unjustified fears, leaving only what I need to stay safe and to step out of my comfort zone in a way that I can mentally and physically tap into everything I need to jump safely. I tap into my known skill sets, my knowledge, my experience from the past, recognizing that I am actually capable of this and this is something that I can achieve. Yes, there is still fear there, but it’s not crippling. I get to let go of all the baggage, step off the edge and just experience the most amazing feeling of flight, being present to all the wonder of the world around me as I do.
Fear in everyday life
In extreme situations like the one I just described, the fear is always very evident, but what about in our everyday lives?
If you have bills to pay and know that you don’t have enough money to pay them, what happens? What fears will emerge, are they linked to your survival, and how will they impact your performance?
Perhaps the fears may emerge from these mental stories:
- I’m not good enough
- I don’t work hard enough
- I haven’t put in enough effort – I need to try harder
- I haven’t achieved as much as I should have by now
- I’m not doing nearly as well as so and so
- I am a failure
- My parents always struggled and so that is why I have to struggle – I am never going to get ahead in life.
- I’m never going to break the “lack” or “poverty” mindset I grew up around
- I don’t understand money
- I don’t know how to budget
- If I don’t get to spend money on everything I like then what’s the point of working
- I don’t know anyone who makes enough money so how can I ever do it.
If you allow these mental stories, fears and associated behaviours continue, you will continue to struggle to pay your bills. As you start to unpack all of these elements, and you really understand where this kind of programming, mental or psychological limiting identities have come into your life, you can start to unravel them. You can begin to filter what is justified and what is not.
We all have a history, a past, trauma that we have been through, experiences that have been painful, situations and environments that have shaped us. As we own each piece of our history, and our story, and we learn to anchor into the unmoveable, unshakable aspects of ourselves, we begin shedding and letting go of layer of layer of mis-truth, mis-beliefs and with them all the fears that hold us back. We begin to shift our behaviour and actions. We begin to flow more with life, and ultimately, we get to be in the flow and tap into our peak performance and potential. We build the capacity to watch our mind, to notice behaviours which fed our fear and keep us trapped. We notice what truly is health vs unhealthy for us, and we ensure that we are not pushed by our fears into places that we no longer want to go.
Fears to look out for
In October, we have World Mental Health Day. I time for us to recognise, pay attention to and watch the stories in our minds and how they feed our fears. If our fears are often rooted in:
- an imagined future or a distorted remembering of the past.
- a mental weighing or comparing of ourselves against somebody else
- seeing life in terms of only a failure and success paradigm.
- How to manage things that we think we are incapable of
- A burden of responsibility for all the things we need to do, have or achieve in life
- Not living a full and purposeful life.
We can continually be living in a state of fear and the associated stress, pressure and anxieties that come with that.
Survival Fears in the month of October
The human design transits that run through the month of October are all about our survival fears.
- the fear of inadequacy,
- the fear of the future,
- the fear of failure,
- the fear of responsibility,
- the fear of death, or more specifically, of living life without purpose and
- the fear of the past.
The transits last for about 6 days each and so as you move through the month of October, it is an excellent opportunity for you to pay attention to how these fears are showing up and being activated in your everyday life.
Watch, notice and pay attention to:
- Do you see these fears show up?
- How are these fears showing up in your life, or in the world around you?
- Are you being moved into action through these fears?
- Are you being blocked or stopped by these fears?
- Do any of these fears trigger memories from your past?
The key to letting go of fears is knowing they are controlling you in unhealthy ways. The first place to start is awareness. Use this month to hone in and focus on your fears of survival and how they are either moving you forward or holding you back. Take stock of what is going on mentally and physically in your world and noticing where fear is stopping you from being the most amazing and awesome human being that you are designed to be, one who is design to thrive!
I’d love to hear from you as you explore these different fears in this month of October and share your awakening, knowing, aha moments and seeing how as you start to see something you’re already unlocking the door to letting that thing go from controlling your life in any way.
I hope you have an amazing month and I’ll see you again soon.
If you would prefer to listen to the audio of this blog post:
Human Design and BG5 (Human Design for Business) both bring awareness into your life. They help you sift through what you are holding onto - your shadow - and enable you to let go.
With the letting go comes the ability to embrace the truth of who you are with wide open arms.
As a guide I can help you on this journey. I can guide you to know and trust yourself.
If you are would like to explore whether Human Design or BG5 are for you, then please book in a strategy session and we can invesitage how to move you from where you are to living aligned with success.
Aliging you to success.
BG5 Business & Career, Cycles and OC16 Consultant & Human Design Guide