What Do Hippos & Crocodiles Have To Do With Fear?

So much has been written about fear, and it’s devastating grip it seems to have on many people. When I refer to many please know that I am deleting, distorting and generalising regarding the whole worlds population….and hopefully perhaps your are a few of the many I am not referring to!

But after a very near escape from a head on collision last night I decided to post a bit on fear! See Fear is necessary, it is part of who we are and fear does keep us going, it is a good thing, truely! I remember clearly last night, the feeling of adrenaline that spiked sky high when the realisation set in of “oh shit I think there is a car ahead of me oncoming with no headlights, that’s why I didn’t see it”.  The kind of flight or fight response to fear which is totally necessary for survival and a total natural response.

See here’s the thing, our brains are hard wired to respond to fear in the necessary way, with an injection of adrenaline to enable us to make a quick on the spot decisive decision. To further illustrate that, another African example when last year I went for a guided game walk along the mighty Grumeti River. I dare you Google, “Grumeti River Crossing” and see the carnage that pops up! The Grumeti is home to one of the very few if not only totally unhindered animal migrations, that happens yearly…the Serengeti to Massai Mara Migration!

Long story short, there are crocodiles and hippos a plenty in this river. And as I was ambling along the river with the game guide I perchance tilted my head over the edge of the river bed and came face to face with a Hippo! Now if you don’t know hippos are fairly massive in themselves, herbivores mind you but lightning quick. If you see them, you think – “Ba, can’t catch me I am the ginger bread man!”…ummm NO! They are quick as a flash and all of a sudden I had this real longing for the safety of my game drive vehicle. At that precise time of coming head on with the hippo, I felt fear! Proper, drop your pants, scream like mad FEAR.  However, rule #1 of the bush, No screaming, and no running! Drats, I was trapped and therefore stood like glue, stuck and hoping like hell that Mamma Herbivore, get in your face Hippo was actually “mock charging”…Who was I to judge a “mock” charge from a real charge??

Point being this:  that was the opportune time to feel fear! And that along with the hair raising near on collision times are the correct times to feel fear. You need to feel fear to propel the limbic system within the brain into action. What technically happens is that all blood gets channelled from the brain to the limbs to get you into motion (or in the hippo case to keep you firmly rooted to the spot as that took miles of effort) to escape the fear. To rationally work towards keeping you safe! That is how flight or fight works.

Enter modern day living and it is not every day that (a) you are confronted by a hippo or (b) that many motor cars drive on the highway without lights (after passing a police road check about 300mts prior!!).

But the brain is still hard wired for flight or fight mode, even though the ability to experience 100% true fear in modern day has diminished somewhat.  So what happens without these hair raising incidents is this…the brain starts inventing and labelling situations as fearful and then still goes into respond mode in the old cave man type of way. No blood to the brain, and when that happens we are unable to see the other choices which are available to us. And it impacts our decision making which in turn makes us feel a myriad of ways.

Read carefully – A fear of Success – is not FEAR.

A fear of being nicer, or more popular or being more accepted and loved is not Fear.  These are modern day replacements which can be responded to in so many more efficient ways.

When someone or something threatens your safety, by all means feel fear. When someone enters your space without your permission feel fear. BUT if you are worried about doing something great for fear of failure, think twice.

Think hippos & crocodiles.

Think again, for the fear of failure is only in your mind!

And channel the adrenaline to where you can use it!

Fear be gone…..hippos and crocodiles. Hippos and crocodiles.