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.
Confidence and Well Being, being able to cope with anxiety and stress – is essential – a priority for you and for staff
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
Andrea – Your Confidence Coach
A lovely friend, who has used my services, reminded me that not only do I get results quickly, but they last, after they had a significant breakthrough some time after seeing me
This I am told is my USP 😊✨
Get in touch to find out how I can help you
I can help with Anxiety, Stress, low Self-Confidence, low Self-Esteem, Phobias and more
I have recently had the privilege to run a 10 week funded course to help people build on their Confidence.
It has been most humbling and inspiring to be part of the journey my attendees have made, there were 8 in total. It is with much thanks to the wonderful community project in Dartford -Well Being Link – helping vulnerable members of society and those going through adversity, and also with thanks to the Lions Dartford who generously helped fund the course, and The Meeting Place, in Dartford Orchard Centre for the room.
Over the 10 weeks we covered
- what confidence and self-confidence is, and self-esteem
- Understanding how your mind works : It’s OK to be You, knowing who you are : what makes you happy?
- How we learn : why we find change difficult sometimes : Perception
- Beliefs and habits : Self limiting beliefs : Stepping out of your ‘comfort zone’ and building resilience
- Communication : being heard and getting your point across : saying NO : standing up for You
- Anxiety and fears and how to overcome them : Emotions
- Your strengths and skills : Believing in them : responsibility and leadership
- Motivation and how to set effective goals
- Self-belief : vision boards : the power of your mind : mindfulness
- A recap on all the learning : certificates
…and so much more. The group were amazing and grew in confidence, contributing and sharing within the group which enhanced their learning and mine too.
The feedback was incredible and each attendee felt inspired and so much more confident about themselves – which was the objective 🙂
Please contact me if you would like to know more and are interested to have a course run within your organisation or business
a few photos:
Stress is most normally due to an external factor.
We have all felt ‘stressed’ at times, even ‘super stressed’ when for example it reaches house moving day or starting a new job / business, school or college. Or if there are financial problems, work concerns, or a breakdown in relationships, at home or at work, or family concerns.
We generally do get through it though, because there is usually an end to it, and once the ‘pressure’ is off, you can sigh with relief and the state of feeling stressed will dissipate. It can be frustrating if things don’t go exactly as planned, but we do generally cope, once the cause has been dealt with effectively, or a resolution is found, the stress then lessens and normally goes all together
In certain situations that a certain amount of stress and anxiety is expected and can drive us forward, like when taking an exam, doing a public speech, acting, performing in a competition whether sports, or music etc…
In a work situation feeling pressured into accomplishing a job by a certain deadline, can focus your attention to complete the task, likewise with a written assignment or project, and motivate you to do your best.
We all deal with stress differently and usually manage to alleviate it effectively and positively
Stress is a normal part of life and apart from a heightened level of cortisol, it is usually mixed in with a healthy dose of adrenaline, to sharpen our responses, (not quite to the same level of heightened anxiety which occurs in a threatening or dangerous situation – the ‘fight fright flight’ response, which ultimately can save our life). Though there can be similar physical symptoms due to the release of cortisol, and the adrenal glands releasing adrenaline, like a more rapid heart beat and sweating, but stress tends to not to include feelings of impending doom like anxiety, it is rather feelings of being pressured or frustrated, or ‘up against it’.
However, a stressed state can not be sustained day in and day out, it stops being helpful to you if prolonged, and becomes known as Chronic Stress.
When stress takes over, and you start to feel overwhelmed and constantly time pressured. Having unrealistic demands and goals to reach, in unreasonable time frames, set by yourself or others, and cease to find enjoyment in what you do.
50 things seems like a long list, but it will take you only a few minutes to find something that works for you
We all have challenging times with circumstances that we have created* or situations beyond our control.
*Our thoughts, feelings and actions, or reactions, whether intentional, or without proper thought have a cause and effect, and can sometimes create circumstances we feel we have no control over, or fear facing up to.
Either way, we can feel unhappy, with ourselves, with others, or the circumstance / situation. Feeling unhappy does not help our situation. We can also feel that our level of happiness is at the hands of, or the responsibility of others, or that some ‘thing’ will have to happen to ensure our happiness.
However, there is a lot we can do to change how we feel and get our happy on! This in turn can change the way we feel about ourselves, others and the circumstance and situation, and can lead to us dealing with it, or resolving things in a better, more positive way, which of course then increases our happiness levels.
It can be quite a concept to get your head around sometimes, but what happens when you do, is amazing, as any one situation or person, will not affect your whole day, or week, or whether you feel happy.
I have personally spent time getting my head around this, and it isn’t that I don’t ever feel unhappy, I just don’t ‘live there’! I live more in the moment, and spend far more time engaged in what is going on around me, and being present with others, knowing that I alone control whether I think or feel happy, resulting in my overall happiness levels going up 😊
The key is taking responsibility for your own happiness and knowing that it truly comes from within.
50 things to do, to get your happy on!
- Listen to uplifting happy music
- Sing at the top of your voice
- Dance – maybe look at joining a dance class to learn to dance, or for social reasons or both
- Do a silly dance! Great to do with young children, they love it
- Go for a walk outside – even 10 minutes can help
- Exercise – there is so much you can do: cycling, swimming, running, walking, football, cricket, bowls, go to the gym, aerobics, Pilates, yoga, Zumba, karate, climbing… even better is to buddy up with someone, or join a group.
- Get away from your desk – especially do move away from your desk for lunch.
- Have a power nap
- Write down how you feel and then rip it up – very satisfying and literally gets bad thoughts out of your head
- Shout and scream! Somewhere where you’re not going to frighten anyone! I sometimes go to a quiet beauty spot and sit in my car and yes shout!
- Eat or drink something tasty and nutritional – maybe try out a new recipe, and have fun finding the ingredients, an then cooking the dish
- Eat something that smells amazing like an orange, or use essential oils. Up-lifting smells have a very positive affect on us.
- Watch a comedy, or a funny clip
- Think abut something you are proud of achieving or overcoming
- Think about the people who love you, and who you love
- Be nostalgic – research has shown it helps your happiness levels
- Have a hug – touch is unbelievably therapeutic
- Be with your favourite people
- Stroking and caring for pets, has proven benefits for our happiness and well-being
- Do something childish, with or without a child in tow!
- Plan something lovely to do
- Read poetry
- Do something for someone else, or give a compliment, send a nice message or buying someone dear to you their favourite treat – seeing others feel happy helps boost our own happiness
- Smile – just the act of smiling reminds us to be happy
- or pull silly faces – sounds daft, but the dafter the better – it will make you laugh
- Tell some jokes
- Treat yourself – this does not necessarily mean a purchase, it could be watching your favourite tv show or film, or reading – uninterrupted
- Take ‘time out’ to actually do nothing, day dream, cat nap, just be and relish the silence
- Practice mindfulness – the benefits are huge – and a lot of what has been mentioned is a form of mindfulness – though you can sit quietly and become aware of your breathing, notice the chair you are on, things in the room, or if you are outside
- Meditation – is a deeper level of mindfulness, and can really work for you
- Practice Gratitude – this has an amazing affect, if practiced daily. Try having a note book you write down three things you are grateful for, or that make you smile, everyday either before going to sleep or as you wake up.
- Buy some flowers, for yourself or someone else
- Watch something ‘cute’ – why do you think animal posts and videos rank top!
- Ensue you are getting good quality sleep – have a good bedtime wind down routine
- Have a bubble bath
- Go for a bracing walk by the sea, or in the countryside
- Spend time with family and friends
- Look at photos from happy times
- Do something you have been meaning to do, like read a book, sign up for a course, do some drawing, plan your next trip
- Declutter – it could just be your desk, a draw, or wardrobe / room
- Give items you don’t use to charity
- Maybe sell some items and make yourself some money for a project, or something you want
- Ease off on the pressure you could be putting on yourself, or the need to be ‘perfect. Easing off, actually helps us be more productive, and this then increases our happiness levels
- Get into your pyjamas as soon as you get home and put fresh washed bedding on your bed
- Makes the best hot chocolate ever, with real chocolate and marshmallows!
- Have a break from social media
- Ring someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
- Forgive someone – forgive yourself. Practising forgiveness is powerful and is about You feeling better. It is not about condoning bad behaviour, but about understanding it possibly, or not, but letting go anyway. Maybe it’s you who need to make an apology?
- Being in-touch with how you feel and having a good cry can be just the thing you need to do, to release and let go, so do allow it. It is ok to not feel ok, so long as you don’t then ‘live there’
- Practice ‘switching’ your unhappy thoughts to better, more positive ones and ask yourself things like ‘will feeling unhappy help me?’ ‘what’s the worst that could happen – really?’
Time to talk, don’t be alone – you can make a change, look after your mental well being – just start with the first step #confidence I can help you help yourself