Have you ever felt incredibly nervous, with a racing heart and butterflies in your stomach?
Have you ever felt ridged and sick with fear?
How about terrified and excited all at the same time?
Ever wondered why?
Our mission in life is to Survive and to Thrive.
Survival for us means many things, not just surviving threat to life, but surviving well, so we can also thrive, grow and develop, and procreate (keep our species alive). Some ways we survive are by staying hydrated, having food and shelter. To literally stay alive from threat, we need to know what a threat is to our safety, and to know Fear. So, Fear crucially keeps us safe, by alerting us to Danger.
In situations where our safety or life is under real threat, and those closest to us, then Fear is definitely our friend, because if we did not have any fear or the ability to detect a threat or know what a threat is…then we could count on the odds of our demise being pretty high!
The reason why Fear can make us FEEL ‘sick’ or have butterflies, have a racing heart, and breathlessness, is because a hormone called adrenaline, is released into the blood stream from the Adrenal Medulla, at the sign of danger or threat to our safety or those we love, and sometimes also towards others, or animals, in danger and under threat.
This hormone is responsible for getting us ready to take action quickly, in order to survive the imminent threat. It is called the Fight Fright Flight response. There is then a sugar surge to produce energy, increase blood flow to the larger muscles, diverting attention away from the stomach and any digestion needs not essential right now, to get you ready to run or fight, dilation of your pupils – to see better, and an increased heart rate and breathing to increase the oxygen flow to help you flee, or fight. This is called a ‘physiological’ response in the body, where there are physical changes in or to the body. It is all part of the Sympathetic Nervous System, that is finely tuned to help us survive threat, and relies on all of our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing and our intuition – our intuition being a combination of many senses and experiences) for the information to be sent, to alert us to a threat or potential threat to our safety.
When the threat is a real one, we will respond very quickly by; running to safety and avoiding the potential threat, which is Flight, hiding or climbing out of the way, maybe it is a case of Fighting your way out of a situation, like a burning house, or having superhuman strength, you hear of people lifting cars, or maybe it’s Fright or Freeze, where your survival depends on staying very still, or stopping dead just before disaster – like the edge of a cliff, and you need every muscle in your body to respond. In this type of situation, our adrenaline and the physiological responses are utilised, and once the threat is over, the Parasympathetic Nervous System takes over, lowering the now not needed adrenaline and returning the body back to ‘normal’. We can sometimes go into shock and shake and feel very sick and light headed when it has been a heightened situation, but generally, it does not last – however the memory of the event does, and we bank every detail, to ensure our survival in the future.
Mostly though, our survival is less dramatic.
We are wonderfully complex and amazing, and when you think how little we generally actively consciously think about how we get through the day, cruising through it uneventfully from morning to evening, and all that actually goes on within our subconscious mind and body’s to allow this to happen, without us giving it a second though, like; Breathing, digesting food, regulating our sugar levels and body temperature, pumping blood and nutrients around our bodies – to every single cell, constant renewal of cells and use of energy where it is needed and processing safely what we don’t need, even when we are sleeping, and calculating and avoiding risks as we go about our daily tasks.
We don’t question things, until maybe the smooth operations falters in some way. Even then, we are miraculous in our ability to recover situations, and recover physically, learning what works and what doesn’t and then applying it in the future, to lessen further risk.
As human beings, from the moment we are born – we are wired to Survive, to survive from threats to our life and well-being, in the best way we can. Some of this survival is instinctual, like a baby being able to cry at a staggering 130 decibels, to ensure they are not ignored, that they are fed, watered and nurtured and kept safe. Other survival strategies we learn as we grow, through different experiences and being taught techniques, and what to do to help us survive well, and reduce risk of threat, by learning to risk assess situations, so we can for the most part live life without incident. For example: crossing the road safely, assessing the road whilst driving, not exiting a moving vehicle, not walking into a Lion’s den, or walking off a cliff, putting your finger in a live electric socket, and relying on your assessment of many situations from past experience and those that just don’t feel right.
Beyond our survival is then the need to Thrive, to feel safe and comfortable, and as humans we also all seek pleasure. Feeling good about ourselves and situations is important, and doing the things we like, eating what we like, wearing what we like, watching what we like, being with people we like vs what we don’t like. Most of the time though we have a calm equilibrium to life, which we appreciate more when it has been disrupted or absent.
All humans have smiling and laughter in common and being / feeling happy is generally our preferred state. Being happy is very much dependent on how we are surviving and thriving and not a means for survival, (though arguably could be deployed as a tactic) because if our basic need to survive well is not being met, then we are in a different mind ‘state’ to happy, like feeling unhappy, sad, stressed, anxious or fearful, angry or frustrated, or maybe just tired, hungry and thirsty. (What constitutes ‘happiness’ is individual to each of us.)
We are mostly able to deal with and resolve most situations in a practical way, without the drama of Fight Fright Flight; like drink some water and eat food and we can consciously use ‘mind over matter’ to move on swiftly in our minds, by way of our thoughts, from one mind ‘state’ and situation to another and get back to feeling happy and comfortable, or getting on with tasks. Our thoughts, and what we think about all situations, affects how we feel.
Building resilience, the ability to ‘bounce back’ or not let one situation affect another, is an important part of surviving and thriving well in a less stressful way, and it is something we can learn to do. We can also learn to switch to happy thoughts quickly or see a situation as just a situation to learn from, in a positive light and not as a threat, maybe even as an opportunity to learn something new. This of course relies on many factors, and experiences, how confident we feel and how skilled we are at not only managing our own survival, by managing and lowering risk, but how we ‘thrive’ and what that actually means to us personally? Whereas we all tend to know what it means to Survive, to stay alive and intact.
So, we know about Fear being our friend, and helping us to survive.
Can Fear also be Foe?
Technically, no it can’t, because it helps us to Survive. However, at the beginning of the fifth full paragraph I wrote ‘When the threat is a real one…’
Fear can be Foe, when the threat is not real to our survival, but in many ways hinders our ability to thrive effectively and happily, because of the response to it, and the anxiety experienced associated with having the Fear.
As humans, our thoughts relate closely to how we feel. If we feel fear, it feels very real to us, and due to the power of our thoughts, the threat does not have to actually be real, we just need to believe it is real in our mind, to create a response in our body, and our body will respond to the perceived threat. So, what happens?
Yes, adrenaline is released to get the body ready to Fight Fright Flight, even if our logical mind knows the threat is not a real one to our survival, how we feel, our emotion, takes over, and we experience real changes in our body, like a racing heart and quickened breathing.
Why? because feeling under threat regardless of it being ‘real’ is a threat to us, and our preferred happy state and the desire to not have an experience we don’t like, that makes us feel bad, so the potential of harm is real enough to us to cause a response. This can be due to a number of reasons, like an actual bad past experience, which experience has taught us to ‘fear’ and see as a threat, our perception of the potential threat can be skewed though, and it may take us some time, as an adult, to process the situation for what it is, and risk assess it as a low threat, or not a real threat to our survival. Or the emotion and fear or anxiety is so heightened, that our reasoning and judgement are squashed into an unheard whisper.
Perception is key here, because in situations that have caused us to feel heightened fear in the past, heightens our perception of the situation being a threat, so we may ‘see’ threat, where there is none or little. Of course, these thoughts and feelings are for good reason, and understandable.
The adrenaline has still been released in readiness and has still put the body under stress of readiness, sometimes this adrenaline is used to run, or hide or avoid the potential situation, but not in the way really intended for our survival from threat to our life.
Anxiety is fear of what may or could happen in the future; the ‘what if…it’s bad, I fail, they laugh at me, I die or get injured, I get it all wrong, they don’t like me?’ even though logically, a past event is not ‘evidence’ for what will happen, our fear of what may happen, changes our perception of how to measure the situation as a potential risk, we raise the odds of things going badly in our assessment, and unwittingly raise the odds of the situation going not happening in the best way.
The Fear or Anxiety then becomes our greatest Foe, because in our attempts to stay safe, and lessen threat, and to stay comfortable, and preserve equilibrium, we start to miss out on life, on opportunity, and opportunities to experience some risk and learn to manage all risk better by building resilience, and consequently we don’t Thrive, and may barely really be surviving and we then feel unhappy, and quite often trapped by our own fear, staying within our Comfort Zone, which is very safe and has it is place to help us heal, recuperate and reflect, but it is also a static place of no new experiences and growth.
Generally, we would all agree that there are definite threats to all humans, regardless of your perception of the situation, for example; entering a Lion’s den, or crossing a busy road without stopping and looking first.
Due to our emotions and how we Feel, and how we would prefer to feel; ‘comfortable’ ‘safe’ happy’ any experiences we have to the contrary stays in our memory bank, as a perfectly formed memory, based on our experience – or more crucially – our personal perception and memory of the experience, which may or may not be fact, and how things actually happened. The more we felt unhappy, under threat, an unease, or fearful, the more intense our memory is of the threat to our survival or equilibrium and happiness.
The good news is, we can learn to control the Anxiety and Fear we do not require so intensely, using various techniques like breathing, hypnotherapy, ‘tapping’ and having a good understanding of anxiety and what triggers it, and using various solution focused therapy, and by talking about it. Anxiety is much more common than you may think, and can all have times of suffering with anxiety, where it takes over in certain situation and we feel like we can’t control it.
We do need Fear, to keep us safe, and some level of anxiety is not altogether bad, as the adrenaline produced can kick us into action, and help move us along. Remember having no Fear has its own dangers, and no adrenaline may make us sloths, with nothing getting done and no urgency to reach deadline, or complete tasks!
A thought to leave with you relating to a question at the beginning
‘How about – terrified and excited all at the same time?’ most of us have had that type of experience
Maybe you’re about to go on a roller-coaster, do a parachute jump, run a race, see a scary film, as your choice, because it’s thrilling! Some people enjoy this type of experience more than others, because it is way outside of the Comfort Zone.
When we are excited, what happens? How do we feel? Our heart rate increases, as does our breathing, we can have butterflies in our stomach…Yes! Adrenaline has been released, it is the very same adrenaline, used in when we are under threat or in danger.
Therefore; ANXIETY / FEAR = EXCITEMENT
If the adrenaline is the same, the body’s response is the same, where is it different then? Remember the power of our thoughts?! What we believe – is real to us! And the next amazing thing is: we can choose what we think, our thoughts, and choose how we feel as a result, because thoughts and emotions are related. So next time you feel anxious or fearful – when the threat isn’t absolutely a threat to your survival, ask yourself these crucial questions;
‘Is the threat or fear Real?’ ‘Where is my evidence?’ (a psst experience is not concrete evidence for a future situation) ‘Does feeling anxious help me or the situation?’ ‘Am I Anxious or excited?’ Do I want to feel anxious or excited?!’
I really hope you found this article useful, and I must add that this is my interpretation and way of explaining things, to help people understand the fascinating subject of being Us.
This article belongs to Andrea Barker Confidence Coach.
How do you survive Christmas while managing an SME?
Christmas can be a wonderful and a stressful time for many reasons; the pressure for it to be just right, for everyone to get on! fitting in extra activities, buying presents and if you have a business – trying to manage that too.
For some business owners I know, the festive period is a time to wind-down, and an opportunity to plan for the coming year, for others it can be relentless, and also managing staff holidays, whilst keeping clients happy.
My advice would be: do have a cut off point so you can have time over the festive period, to be festive, or to relax and re-charge. We are much more effective and efficient as a result – because as much as you may love, live and breathe your business, there is more to You and your life. If we look after our well-being and literally sometimes do ‘nothing’ – yes nothing, or watch a film, play games with family and friends, or get some fresh air, the benefit is immeasurable.
To truly-wind down, this means managing the expectations of any staff you may have, your clients and family too, most people do understand. Be clear when things can be done by, switch the email to ‘out of office’ – you have worked hard – but no-one can run on empty. Think of yourself as your favourite car, or an amazing race horse, how would you look after them?
So, your present to yourself is: TIME – to rest, recuperate, recharge and be You, and so that you can free up your mind to come up with great solutions, and ideas. When we are stressed or running at max constantly – the solution focused centre of our mind closes down, because we are just ‘surviving’.
Look to the greats; Einstein knew the power of doing ‘nothing’ to gain his best ideas, and many top business people know about the power of true rest, and meditation (there are many forms including; nature; music, exercise and Yoga) this also puts you very much in tune with yourself – your intuition or ‘gut instinct’ which is never wrong, and will serve you well, not just in business but in life too, and if there has been a problem or issue to deal with, you are certain to come up with the answer by allowing your mind the time to process a solution.
Christmas isn’t the best time for a lot of people, so if you have people around you, and food on the table – being grateful is an amazing boost for you too – and those closest to you
Have a Happy peaceful Christmas and New Year
I am signing off now and returning to Confidence Coaching on the 3rd January 2019
I delivered a talk to a lovely group of people on Wednesday 5th December
titled: ‘Presenting Yourself Confidently in Business’
here is the slide showing what we covered
Presenting covers so many things – from how you present yourself, whether in person or over the phone, in emails and on social media, across your Branding, literally delivering a speech, talk or presentation – to ‘Being Present’
A present is also a gift
Presenting is a way of giving information- so people are informed about an event, a promotion or new product, idea or concept and to raise awareness, generate interest and to educate, so people can make informed choices, or it could be to raise money for a good cause.
Many people have a Fear of presenting and there are many reasons why – the fear of being judged, and feeling exposed, getting it wrong, embarrassing oneself or forgetting what to say, or worrying that you have nothing good to say that people will want to listen to. During the talk, we discussed whether people really do judge you in the way that you think, in this situation – and generally they don’t – do You?
Here is why – we are generally thinking about ourselves! it’s true – and whether what is being said or shown, is of benefit to us – we may switch of and be thinking about what’s for tea, or the email you should have sent, or not be interested. As the presenter – it’s your job to try and know your audience and there are many ways to do this – depending on the type of event it is – and it is good to remember that not everybody will be interested, but that’s OK.
When it comes to the fear or Anxiety – the best way to get around this is to get out there and do it! To feel Confident – you need to Practice Practice Practice and know your subject – do it in front of the mirror, others or video yourself – so that the first time you do it – isn’t the actual presentation or talk itself!! and you can get the timings right.
You need a little bit of Adrenaline – and you can learn how to control anxiety – one good thing to remember is it’s the same adrenaline if you’re Excited therefore; ANXIETY = EXCITEMENT our mind believes what we tell it – so Choose!
Also, check out your venue beforehand – arrive early – introduce yourself and your subject – have a clear key message and maybe 3 – 7 key points and objectives, to help your audience know what to expect, but it also helps your when planning your presentation / talk /video -to start with the end in mind.
Don’t tightly script what you want to say – bullet point your key points – put notes on PowerPoint – to print off as an aid (PowerPoint) also has presentation mode – so you know whats coming next – don’t overcrowd the slides, they are there as a visual aid only! Invest in a ‘clicker’ – have handouts and extra information for those who want it. Have a checklist of what to take with you – put everything on it – including ‘Take Presentation’ or ‘take handouts’ Computer – cables – plan B! – which could be your presentation on a memory stick, or emailed to yourself or the organiser.
BREATHE and SMILE and most of all be YOU – there is so much more – so get in touch if you want more information 🙂
Confidence and Well Being, being able to cope with anxiety and stress – is essential – a priority for you and for staff
This Wednesday 10th October 2018 is WORLD Mental Health Day
I will be in Maidstone Kent at County Hall, Kent with the FSB for MENTAL HEALTH in the Workplace
It is sure to be a very informative event to help all employers and staff – to encourage a healthier happier workplace – which has a massive impact and helps people to feel so much happier.
What is good Mental Health?
“Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”
The Mental Foundation reiterate this “Good mental health is not simply the absence of diagnosable mental health problems”
When a person’s Mental Health is compromised it can affect their work, their family life and friendships, and their physical health too.
Latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive is:
2016/2017 12.5 million working days lost due to Stress, Depression and Anxiety
Which is now 40% of all work absence, compared to the previous 2015/2016 of 37%
This equates to an average of 23.8 days a year lost per person
My personal argument is, there is also the days prior to absence – loss of focus and productivity when a person is feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired, depressed or anxious. Prevention is always preferable, and it is in the interest of all of us, regardless of size of business – to look after our own Mental Health, to take responsibility. If you are the Boss, yours really matters, and is a great example for any employees you have, but also, if you feel good, the knock-on effect is -so will they.
To create the best working environment we can, offer and maintain a good Life/work balance and to let people know they are Valued.
No-one can run on empty, family and social life is important to our mental well being and happiness, making us more productive. One thing above all things, to get the best from an employee, to have great productivity and Loyalty – is to let them know they are Valued, that their role is important, to make sure they understand what their role is, and how it fits in with everyone else’s, and to spend time on their development – so you have happy loyal productive employees.
A few tips:
- Take lunch away from your desk or work station and have a proper break, go for a walk, even 10 minutes helps – most people do not do this!
- Have regular team meetings
- Prioritise workloads – to avoid duplication, and overwhelm and allow for –
- Good time management
- Leave work at a time that allows valuable time at home with your family, or friends
- Exercise – in whatever form you love – the mental health benefits are huge, as well as gaining great physical health too
- Take on a team challenge!
- Practice Mindfulness – it works! as does learning Stress management
- Train in Mental Health at work to help take the stigma away – we all have times we need help and support, you can also enlist dedicated companies for your staff to talk to
- Have numbers for supportive organisations clearly visible – there are so many wonderful ones from MIND, to CALM (Campaign Against living miserably) aimed at men, ANXIETY UK, Heads Together, The Samaritans, Re-think Mental illness, Time to Change… there are so many
Just a few things, there is so much more. The work I do is to work on Confidence, and self-esteem to really help people recognise their skills and reach their full potential.
I am delighted to be running a 6 week course
The results I have had so far from other courses is amazing and I am so passionate about helping you develop Confidence and feel happier about being YOU and to go forward with what you want to do.
I have published the courses on social media and already had such amazing support and feedback
‘Liz Bylett – This is such an awesome course, I had the pleasure of attending a class that Andre ran which was very similar, yes I am very confident in many areas of my life but I believe we can all learn something new and Andrea’s extensive knowledge in this area inspires and embeds tools and resilience to deal with life’s challenges.
Yes it was brilliant wasn’t it?? Thoroughly recommended! – Julie Quick
I am working with Andrea now and she is amazing . X – Julie B
Sarah Hawes – This course will be amazing if you’re looking to be more confident and happy.
I can highly recommend Andrea – she has changed my life with her hypnotherapy and is such a lovely person – just right for a course like this!’
I hope to see You
Confidence really is from the inside. It is ‘intangible’ and different for all of us, in different situations. When it comes to exam results, regardless of what they are – excellent, or not as good as hoped for – confidence in yourself and your abilities will help you to move forward. If you did not get what you hoped for, all is not lost at all – school is not the end of learning, or the dream of what you want to achieve. There are always options open to you, to either improve on grades, or to look at alternative ways of getting to where you would like to be. Ask any seasoned adult, and they will tell you ‘please do not worry, you will look back and realise that you didn’t need to’.
Do get support if needed and talk about the way you feel, you will be surprised, and how much of a mixture of thoughts and feelings you may have about the next step, whether University, College, Sixth Form, an Apprenticeship or a Job, from excitement – to feeling anxious, or doubting yourself.
Exam results are indeed an indicator of how well you have done in a certain subject, but there is more to it than that, which is where you can take heart, as there are other things that are very important too, and that more and more employers particularly, are looking at:
Your communication skills; with people face to face, on the phone, via email or any other medium, and how you interact with others. (customers and work colleagues of all levels)
Whether you have initiative – meaning that if you see something needs doing you do it, or help colleagues or customers if you can see they need assistance, even if it isn’t ‘your job’ – one employer put it like this:- ‘don’t come and tell me there is an item in the way that could be a trip hazard, move the item, and then let me know you have moved the item out of the way and secured it, because it could have been a trip hazard.’
Being Self Motivated and able to Plan and Organise your work and see the task through within the time allocated to the task – Time Management
Flexibility, in terms of being able to adapt to changing situations and environments
Awareness of how your role fits into the bigger scheme of things for the company, how it relates to those around you and Teamwork
Confidence to either ask for help rather than make a mistake, or admit to having made a mistake, rather than try to cover it up
If you are young, one way to develop these skills is to do volunteering, join a sports group or organisation you are interested in, maybe travel and experience different environments, where you have to organise yourself and learn to budget.
Working on all of these skills, as an enhancement to your exam results, helps put you ahead and gives you the Confidence to be You and enjoy your new experiences – whether Uni, college or work, which then increases your Confidence – and Competence – in your abilities and helps you feel happier and be a happy positive person to be around.
I hope this helps – I can also help with interviews, see a previous post on interview skills