As the line gets shorter and shorter to hold the Tarantula I panic.
I think to myself, “What if she bites me?” “What if she jumps on my face?” “What if she shoots her pokey hairs into my eyes?”
I have arachnophobia. Just looking at a picture of a spider gives me anxiety.
I don’t want my kids to inherit my fear-based patterns so I have agreed to explore my fear and hold the Tarantula.
As we wait in line to meet Rosie I observe my mind struggling between conditioned fear and my knowledge of human behavior.
My conditioned fear tells me the tarantula is a threat and I must protect myself. My knowledge of human behavior tells me my fear is clouding my cognitive process.
Then it happens. I extend my hand allowing Rosie to walk her eight legs across me. As I start to fantasize about flinging her off my hand consciousness slams me in the face. I remind myself that I chose to follow my fear. At that moment I say to myself, “Change!” Instantly I feel my mind shift from a place of fear to a place of discovery.
It is here that I observe Rosie from a place of childlike curiosity. Noticing her graceful gait, her silky fur and her delicate features. I watch her like a scientist uncovering new territory. I ask the handler about her predators, her lifespan and her eating habits. I soon become aware of the mindset shift this experience has created.
Human beings are wired for survival and therefore perceive many situations as a threat. For example, look at my fear of spiders. Researchers discovered arachnophobia is not only one of the oldest human fears, it is part of our evolutionary survival tactics. In order to survive venomous spiders in Africa, humans had to develop the ability to spot these eight-legged creatures.
Humans are also socially conditioned, through their environment, to fear the unknown. If we can predict adverse events by observing others then we can maximize rewards and minimize threats. This behavior is learned early in our lives as young children.
How do we overcome our hard-wired evolutionary DNA and conditioned fears?
“Hold the Tarantula!”
By holding the tarantula I not only explored my fear, I discovered a new approach to shifting my mindset from fear to understanding.
Use the following tools to shift your fear-based mindset and create a new reality.
Seek to understand.
When you seek to understand you take the judgment out of your reality and create a space for compassion. When seeking to understand your personal threats, no matter how irrational they may be, you begin to shift your perception and your reality.
When you seek to understand you take the judgment out of your reality. @tracy_martino (Click to Tweet!)
Instead of concluding the tarantula as a threat I sought to understand. Here I created a mindset shift from judgment to compassion. My reality changed as I observed and detached from fear.
The unknown causes humans beings to feel threatened. As a result, our bodies experience anxiety and fear. Counteract these uncomfortable emotions by shifting into a place of curiosity. When you are in a place of curiosity the reward centers of the brain are engaged and you open yourself up to new possibilities.
When I looked at the tarantula from a place of curiosity my anxiety disappeared. I focused on learning more about the tarantula vs worrying about irrational possibilities.
Rewire Your Brain.
The more we use neural pathways they become embedded and become patterns. Most of the time these patterns are subconscious. Create lasting change starts with awareness. Experiment with a signal or word that will alert the brain to rewire.
When I felt myself going back to the same fear-based patterns I said, “Change!” This alerted my brain to be aware of my pattern and give birth a new pathway.
Changing fear-based patterns is a work in progress. There will always be situations that cause you to go into survival mode. You have the ability to evolve and create an opportunity for growth.
I invite you to “Hold the Tarantula” and follow your fear. It will allow you to uncover your personal beliefs and patterns that are holding you back from experiencing life to the fullest.
Tracy Martino is CEO and Founder of Executive Return and T.Martino Brands, LLC. She is a Neuroleadership consultant focusing on how to create trust, engagement, and communication with the tools of Conversational Intelligence, HeartMath and NeuroScience. She is a Best-Selling author, writer, poet and speaker. You can find Tracy at www.tracymartino.com or follow her on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Michel_van_der_Vegt.