Turning Fear into a Fuel for Success

If you think your child doesn’t know how to perform to their potential at school, they most likely are scared of tests and exams.✍🏻🎓

Fear is probably the most experienced emotion by human beings.  Some people are more courageous than others but fear is real and we all know how debilitating it could be.

Test anxiety is a big issue for most students and even we as adult can experience it. I still dream of being late for my exams or failing at them.

Let’s think about it for a second.  Is there a real danger when we have to take a test? Do we need to protect ourselves when going for an interview? The answer is no, of course.  

So what is fear? Fear is an emotion caused by a subconscious trigger when we feel threatened.  It can be caused by a real threat like being chased by a bear in the middle of the forest or could be an imaginary one like the fear of failure at the exam.

We react to fear in many different ways. When we are scared, we run away, fight, faint or freeze. Our response to fear is in fact our brain trying to keep us safe.  

Imagine we are trying to take a test, we are going for an interview, we have a deadline to achieve a goal, or whatever that is, we are activating the fear center of our brain, amygdala.  The fear center or the emotional center in the brain will then release neurochemicals like cortisol, epinephrine, or norepinephrine. This rush of neurochemicals in our blood stream creates a huge amount of energy.  We use this energy, as we said before, to freeze, run away, fight or faint!

John Assaraf in his recent book, Innercise, explains so beautifully how fear is triggered in the brain and what we can do to not only defeat it but use it to our advantage.  Let’s explore John’s work in collaboration with a world renowned psychiatrists and brain imaging experts, Dr. Srini Pillay from Harvard.

John shows us how to channel fear and use it to not only to take control of our emotions but also to take a step towards solving the issue.

Here’s what he suggests:

“When you recognize a fear, try these two steps:

Innercise number 1: Take 6 Calm the Circuits.

Take a deep breath in for 5 seconds, and blow out like you’re blowing out through a straw… and if you do this 5 seconds in 5 seconds out, with 6 to 10 breaths, you’re going to deactivate the fear response centre and that actually is going to reactivate your thinking centre in your brain so that you can move on to Innercise number 2.

Innercise number 2:  AIA

A-I-A  stands for Awareness. Intention. Action.

A: Ask yourself in a calm and relaxed manner the following questions:

What am I thinking right now?

What am I feeling right now?

Am I calm or am I tense?

Am I breathing deeply or shallow?

Is my heartbeat fast or slow?

Observe what you are feeling and what you are thinking and what you are doing.

I:  What is my intention right now?

Is my intention to move forward or is my intention to stay in this fearful state? And chances are you’re going to say: Well I really wanna move forward.

A: Ask yourself what is one action step that I can take to move forward towards my goal and dream.”

So let’s wrap up the process. In Innercise number 1, we calm the circuits to deactivate amygdala and then in Innercise number 2, called AIA (awareness-intention-action), we take control by being aware of the fear, of what we’ve been thinking and then deciding what to do.

These 2 Innercises combined “reconfigure the neural networking in our brain around the goal that we want to achieve” and instead of allowing the real or imagined danger to control us or to stop us, we  take one action step forward. By taking one small action, we rewire our brain.

This one small action forward towards what needs to be done, like deciding to take the test anyway and deciding to do well will neutralize that fear overtime.

This is such a cool method and it really works. It is good to know there are actually ways to rid of fear effectively. There are other methods other than breathing that can calm the amygdala such as visualization, meditation, exercice, affirmations and positive talk.  They are all good but breathing should be always combined with these other techniques.

I wrote this blog to give you a technique to work with when fear happens. It is amazing and it works but the underlying cause of test anxiety might still be there. 🤔🙄

Most likely they need a more solid foundation to tackle the academic needs.✍🏻🎓 They need executive functioning skills, such as time management ,organizational skills and much more. They need to learn their best learning style to do better academically and they need to know how to take notes, how to take tests and so much more.🎯🗂🗓

Being a student isn’t easy with all that is required of them. But knowing the right strategies can change the game and more importantly reduce stress and build confidence. 🏆🏅

Potential is living and breathing in your children but it might be hiding. They need to see it and grow into it. They need to create their future with a purpose and goal aligned with their strengths. They need to build a success mindset for life. 🔮

If you have a student or know someone who needs help, let me know. Your first session is complimentary.


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