Monday

Fear Sells. Don't Buy.

For our ancestors bad news was a matter of survival.

Knowing which berries were poison, which cloud pattern indicated a storm, or which bird song meant danger: this kept them alive. On the other hand it wasn't helpful to remember which trees were prettiest in the fall. The most beautiful sunset they ever saw? Well that wasn't going to keep them alive either. Over time nature rewarded the worry-warts and we've been living that legacy ever since.

So it's not your fault, you see.
You're biologically programmed to fear.

By Tertia Van Rensburg
Your brain is hard-wired to prioritize scary information over anything else. It's how your brain knows that putting out a fire is more important than comforting the crying child standing out of harm's way. It's the way your brain tunes out the radio while driving in heavy traffic. It's the way your eyes can scan a beautiful walking trail and see the slither of a snake from far away. Your brain is working hard to keep you alive- by noticing what to fear.

Here is the problem: we now live in an age where advertisers and media moguls know this information and exploit it for personal gain. The word is out: If you want the eyes of a viewer, you must make them afraid. Fear is our most basic motivator. Our brain will prioritize it before anything else, including love. To our brain, it's a matter of survival. Much like the snake in the grass, our eyes will become glued to that which we fear. So if I want maximum ad revenue? I simply need to make you afraid.

By Michael Hull
We are living the consequences of this now. Fear is infiltrating every part of our psyche. We are afraid of politics, our environment, our neighbors, our streets, our water, our doctors, our family members... the list goes on. And although statistically our children are safer now on our streets than children were in the 90's, we constantly hear that "these days you can't trust anyone". It isn't true, but that doesn't matter. Someone said it once and our primitive brain decided to be worried.

With the election happening tomorrow, I see it all around me. Both sides are terrified of the other. Doom is predicted no matter who wins. And while this election has the lowest confidence ratings ever seen, this serves only to entrench our dedication to what we "know" to be safe.

Why does this matter? Because fear does terrible things to us. Chronic fear is even worse.
Fear

  • wrecks our bodies. Fear keeps us stuck in fight/flight and opens the door for insomnia, anxiety, elevated heart rate and cortisol levels and ultimately: chronic diseases.
  • closes us down. We become unwilling to problem solve or be creative. If the whole world is a threat, we don't believe answers exist. We build our walls higher. Hopelessness ensues.
  • blocks us from love. The opposite of love isn't hate; it's fear. Fear makes us believe that other people are unworthy. It makes us unwilling to hear them, to connect to them, or to love them. Isolation is the end result.
So if you, like me, are tired of being manipulated by the media of our world- say no to fear. Refuse to give in to your primitive brain. The drive to fear is strong- our evolutionary history depended on it. Breaking that cycle does not happen by accident. It is a constant purposeful choice to
  • breathe. Because our breath becomes rapid and shallow when we are afraid, we can tell our body to calm down by purposefully slowing our breath. This simple act decreases our stress hormones and heart rate. It allows us to access our better brain, where we can:
  • hope. Choose to day dream. Purposefully imagine the best-case scenario. Turn off the angry and fear-mongering voices. Believe in something better.
  • love. When it's wise, metaphorically or literally invite fear over for dinner. Listen. Hear. Open your heart. It's not about agreeing. It's about seeing the "other" as a real person instead of a villain. Try this. Connect.
By Artem Kovalev

While I cannot pretend to know the answers to the bigger questions, I do know that the thing we should most fear is "fear itself". Because fear is a dirty liar. While fear keeps us safe in dark alleys, it is a terrible architect. Our future depends on our ability to see this manipulation for what it is: and to choose hope and love. It's the only architecture worth having.

Just say no, okay?





ps- If you liked this post. Try reading this one about fear or this one about loving "the other".

3 comments:

  1. Like you said, you don't have the awnser for all questions. I'd try to kill my self a few weeks. I have a depression and anxiety disorders. I'm struggling to keep the hope..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great breakdown of fear! It seems it hasn't quite evolved to our present day needs !

    ReplyDelete
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