There are so many videos and articles online that discuss the topic of fear as a psychological phenomenon and how to overcome it: through habit training, through meditation, through faith in G_d…

But, most of the content I have found misses two important points:

  1. That fear is a physical feeling
  2. That fear is stored in the muscles, not the mind

When we encounter real fear, e.g. a car making a bee-line for us, the first reaction is visceral and muscular – which puts us into a state ready to fight or, in this example, flee. Even if we are mistaken, and the car turns, we are left with a feeling that must be dealt with. This is a bodily feeling.

In other words, fear is not a psychological phenomenon. It is physiological. So?

Well, ask yourself: will meditation or faith help me resolve this physiological state? How?

Calming oneself after a dump of adrenaline and cortisol is likely counterproductive. If you are able to overcome the psychological manifestations of fear with these techniques, your body is still left with a hormone imbalance that needs to be dealt with, causing muscular tension that can become chronic if our default reaction is to seek calm.

Imagine that that car is a wild animal. Are you going to wait around and take deep breaths when the animal heads into the bushes instead of attacking you directly? That could prove deadly indeed.

You’d be better served to run away as fast and far as you can, get to a place where there are other people who can help if the animal returns. It likely even makes sense to round up some strong hunters to stalk the animal and make sure it can’t return.

All of these actions deplete the energy hormones your body has produced and allow you to return to a state of homeostasis. Indeed, this is the only way to return to a flow state without undue stress on the CNS and organs.

In our sedentary and civilized world, logic dictates counteracting hormonal stress. But, to really overcome the fear, one must first follow it, react to it in a natural manner (i.e. by acting fully and fearfully).

Then, the body will be able to return itself to calm and the psyche will follow of its own accord. So, the next time you feel fear, run until you can’t anymore (even if you are in a business suit). Your body and your mind will thank you later.

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