Episode 56: Breathe Into Your Fear

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“There’s only one way to get through the fog of fear, and that’s to transform it into the clarity of exhilaration. One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I’ve ever heard comes from Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt therapy. He said, “Fear is excitement without the breath.” Here’s what this intriguing statement means: the very same mechanisms that produce excitement also produce fear, and any fear can be transformed into excitement by breathing fully with it. On the other hand, excitement turns into fear quickly if you hold your breath. When scared, most of us have a tendency to try to get rid of the feeling. We think we can get rid of it by denying or ignoring it, and we use holding our breath as a physical tool of denial.” ~ Gay Hendricks from The Big Leap

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Breathe Into Your Fear

“There’s only one way to get through the fog of fear, and that’s to transform it into the clarity of exhilaration. One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I’ve ever heard comes from Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt therapy. He said, “Fear is excitement without the breath.” Here’s what this intriguing statement means: the very same mechanisms that produce excitement also produce fear, and any fear can be transformed into excitement by breathing fully with it. On the other hand, excitement turns into fear quickly if you hold your breath. When scared, most of us have a tendency to try to get rid of the feeling. We think we can get rid of it by denying or ignoring it, and we use holding our breath as a physical tool of denial.” ~ Gay Hendricks from The Big Leap

This is a REALLY Big Idea: --> “Fear is excitement without the breath.”

We’ve talk about the fact that the very same mechanisms that produce fear also produce excitement in our Notes on Overachievement and The Silva Method of Mental Dynamics. It’s a *really* powerful concept. The energy itself is neutral. It’s how we interpret it (via our thoughts/actions) that determines whether we experience excitement or fear.

The fastest way to channel the energy into fear? Hold your breath, imagine everything that can go wrong and don’t take action.

The fastest way to channel the energy into excitement? Breathe deeply and imagine all the amazing things you’re about to experience and just go for it!

Gay says this about breathing into it: “The best advice I can give you is to take big, easy breaths when you feel fear. Feel the fear instead of pretending it’s not there. Celebrate it with a big breath, just the way you’d celebrate your birthday by taking a big breath and blowing out all the candles on your cake. Do that, and your fear turns into excitement. Do it more, and your excitement turns into exhilaration. I find it very empowering to know that I’m in charge of the exhilaration I feel as I go through life. I bet you will, too.”

John Eliot in his phenomenal book, Overachievement (see Notes), says this about just going for it: “The physical symptoms of fight-or-flight are what the human body has learned over thousands of years to operate more efficiently and at the highest level. Anxiety is a cognitive interpretation of that physical response.” He continues: “Exceptional thinkers learn to trust their consciousness. They teach themselves the power of positive action. They don’t stop to think about how great the act is going to be. Instead, they act.”

So, are you feeling some fear? Take a deep breath and celebrate it as you blow out some imaginary candles and JUST DO IT!!! ... And, don’t forget Emerson’s mojo on the subject: “Always, always, always, always, always do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

This is one of the 1,000+ Big Ideas we share in our 6-page PDF and 20-minute MP3 PhilosophersNotes on 100 of the greatest self-development books. Get 100 Notes for only 47 bucks!