The Biology of Fear
Fear is the feeling tied closest to our primal survival instinct. It encourages us to avoid dangerous circumstances by bringing warning signs to our attention. Additionally, fear helps us escape harmful situations by triggering the release of adrenaline into our veins. This gives us levels of speed, strength and awareness that we normally would not have. The “fight or flight” response people experience is directly tied to the observance of some threat; something we know we should fear. When you encounter a force that threatens your existence, use fear to win and transform your life.
Conversely, fear also has a paralyzing effect, literally freezing people in place as they’re overtaken with the emotion. It can last moments, days, years and even lifetimes. Unfortunately, fear will keep people stuck in places they don’t want to be, with people they don’t want to be with. Often times, individuals fail to realize that fear is deeply rooted in most of the decisions they make, since the only way to discover this is via honest, deep self reflection. Check out a couple real life examples of fear as a paralyzing force in one’s life.
Avoiding Fear in Real Life
Question: Why do I stay in a career I despise?
- “The money is good”
- “I have an easy job / commute / flexibility”
- “I’m good at it”
I’m afraid that if I leave I won’t be able to:
- make this much money doing what I love
- find something better
- succeed in the new job
Question: Why do I stay in a bad relationship?
- “I love her”
- “We’ve been together for so long”
- “We understand each other and are comfortable together”
- “We have kids together”
I’m afraid that if we break up I won’t be able to
- find someone as good
- deal with being single
- connect with someone else
- be a good parent
Fear is Natural
As humans, we all experience fear, and anyone who tells you they fear nothing is either failing to understand themselves, or on some very powerful drugs. Boastful machismo types will proclaim their lack of fear because they think it makes them look weak, or beta. In reality, having an awareness of your fear can be your most powerful weapon. The secret is that we should not be ashamed of being afraid; rather, we should use fear to maximize our own potential.
How Did Batman Use Fear to Win?
If you’re a fan of the Dark Knight Trilogy, you’ll remember fear being one of the most prominent themes embedded in all three movies. Initially, Bruce Wayne creates the persona of Batman based on his personal fear of bats, thus using his own demons against his enemies. Obviously, dressing up like a bat and fighting criminals seems a bit far fetched, making it hard for most people to relate to.
However, in the trilogy’s finale, “The Dark Knight Rises”, there is one scene that most people can relate to and, when fully understood, can inspire anyone. Bruce Wayne has been defeated by the villain, Bane, and was thrown in a prison that sits beneath a mountain. The only way out of the prison is to climb the sides of the mountain, make an extremely long jump from one ledge to another, and then complete the climb.
Throughout the second half of the movie, Bruce ties a rope to his waist, climbs halfway up, and fails the jump multiple times, always coming up a few inches short. Shockingly, it was revealed over the years many have attempted the jump, but none have succeeded except for one little girl fleeing for her life. Eventually, Bruce speaks with an older man who has been imprisoned for quite some time, and is inspired to make the jump the only way that will work; without the rope.
The wise man tells Bruce that without the security of the rope around his waist, “fear will find you”.
Remove Your Safety Net
Having the rope tied around him ensures that even if he misses the jump, he won’t fall violently to his death. Removing the rope removes his safety net, making death a reality. The fear of dying would push Bruce beyond his limits, giving his body the extra boost needed to make the jump and escape the prison.
In dramatic fashion, with the original score “Why do we fall?” by Hans Zimmer blaring in the background, Bruce removes the rope, makes the jump, and escapes, freeing hundreds of other prisoners from death and despair in the process. This scene may be one of the most inspirational moments in action movie history. I rank it up there with Rocky Balboa knocking out Ivan Drago, and President Whitmore’s speech to the world before the battle against the aliens in Independence Day.
In short, the scene tugs at your heartstrings because it shows Batman in a very vulnerable, human moment. Surely, we all face that big jump at some moment of our lives. Unfortunately, some don’t attempt the jump at all, while others refuse to do it without the rope.
You Can Use Fear to Win
Our society has all but removed the need to face fear and struggle. Many go through life without ever getting that fear-induced boost they need to reveal their highest level of potential. Do not push fear away. When you feel it creep into your soul, recognize it and embrace it. Know that it will give you the needed boost to overcome even the most insurmountable odds.
Are you letting a security blanket handicap you in life? Do you put yourself in “safe” environments, preventing you realizing your full potential? Have you settled for average just because it’s easier? Most people would answer yes to these questions, as this is how they’ve been conditioned to live. Reject being coddled, and choose to fight for what you want. Push yourself past the dreaded pain you may endure by facing your fears head on. It will make you stronger and will force you to evolve. Above all, this is your chance to be Batman (or Deadpool).
– Your Big Bro