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Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Fear and anxiety are related but they are not the same thing.  There can be fear with anxiety and vice versa.  Fear has more to do with the physical body and anxiety has more to do with thoughts.  A Bengal tiger chasing you across a field would bring fear but thinking about giving a speech would produce anxiety.  Let's take a closer look at these two emotional factors.

Let's say you have never given a speech before and you are looking forward to making a good impression.  You get up to give your first speech and you notice everyone looking at you.  Your heart begins beating faster, your palms become sweaty, you feel light headed and your mouth feels like cotton.  You can't speak.  The audience looks confused and they begin whispering to one another.  You muster all the strength and courage you have and struggle through your speech and sit down.  You just experienced anxiety.

The next time you are scheduled to give a speech you remember what happened.  The thought causes your heart rate to increase, your palms to sweat, blood pressure go up, and your mouth to go dry.  Now you are experiencing fear and anxiety simultaneously.  You fear that when you give your speech you will experience anxiety again and maybe even pass out and hit your head on something.  You also fear humiliation.

The thought of giving the speech turns on the flight or fight response.  You want to run away from giving the speech (flight) but are determined to give it anyway (fight).  When it comes time to give your speech you cannot get up out of your chair.  Fear has struck.  You can' run and you can't give your speech.  You are frozen between the flight or fight response and can't do either. 

The fear of death is the mother of all fears.  Frozen between flight and fight is often said to be worse than death. Many people who experience this situation simply avoid ever doing it again.  They stop doing whatever is was that caused them to experience the horrible experience.  They may go into seclusion, find another line of work, stop working all together or become so depressed they become mentally incapacitated. Other people may turn to drugs and alcohol to suppress the fears and anxieties.  These are not the routes you want to take.   

Overcome the fear of death and you can overcome the fear of anything.  In the next post I will discuss how you can overcome the fear of death.

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