The Great Antidote to Fear

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy in life is when men are afraid of the light.– Plato

If there’s one commodity in the world today that we could happily dispense with, it would have to be fear. Does that make sense to you? There’s just too much fear, too much stress and too much negativity. Take your own situation as a working example: do you ever feel overwhelmed by your fears and anxieties? Have you ever felt unable to deal with the pressures and stresses that confront you? Have you known what it feels like to lose hope when life delivers too many problems?

Once again, you are not alone. These are all well-recognised reactions to the pressures and stresses of modern life. But the dark shadow of fear can affect us so deeply, that we can sometimes feel powerless in the face of our challenges. This is a serious issue because the feeling of being overwhelmed and powerless is one of the leading causes of depression in the world today.

So, if that’s the problem, what could be the best way to answer this daily challenge?

The real question for us to consider is whether there’s anything we can do to deal with our fears from the first moment when they begin to overwhelm us. Is it really possible to neutralise them and take back control of our lives?

Well, the answer might just surprise you.

Research has confirmed a very interesting phenomenon that has been understood, recognised and taught for thousands of years.

There really is a potent antidote to the paralysing grip of excessive fear.

Can you guess what it might be?

Take a deep breath because the simple answer is – laughter.

That’s right. Laughter.

Philosophers and countless ancient observers of the human condition have noted how strangely effective laughter can be on human emotions. They’ve reminded us over the centuries that something as simple as laughter can have a profound effect on how we think and feel and behave. Although it’s also fair to say that fear isn’t really the problem.

We shouldn’t blame fear for being what it is. After all, fear is a completely natural product of our evolutionary development. It’s a primitive mechanism that served to increase our chances of survival when danger threatened. It’s been an integral part of the human condition for hundreds of thousands of years.

Yet, today, the fear response continues to play a very significant role in our lives – even when there’s no obvious reason to justify its presence. We know that most of our fears are a product of our imagination. We learn to be afraid, worried that we might not be good enough, or capable enough, or worthy enough – until the doubts become a concrete shell that limits our vision, our creativity and what we believe is possible. It’s as if our imagination somehow conspires against us to create all manner of fears and anxieties.

One of the traditional ways of confronting our fears is to apply the power of reason and rationalise our circumstances. When we engage the logical, rational part of the mind, we immediately turn down the fear instinct. Thinking the problem through from a rational, objective perspective shifts our perception from a fearful attitude to one of creative interpretation. Fear doesn’t survive very long in the light of a rational environment.

But, when you feel paralysed in the face of your fears, the instant remedy that you can now deploy – is to laugh out loud.

Strangely enough, even if your laughter is forced and you really don’t feel like roaring with mirth, the effect is the same. Laughter triggers ancient responses in our system that neutralise fear.

Clearly, our ancient ancestors didn’t laugh when confronted by a hungry predator. So, in many ways, laughter represents the polar opposite to the fear response. When you engage in laughter, the ancient circuitry knows that there’s no danger and it understands in its ancient way that it’s appropriate to turn down the stress response.

The next time you start to feel overwhelmed by a challenging situation and, if it’s appropriate, pause for a moment, take a deep breath and try laughing. You might be pleasantly surprised at the changes you can initiate just by laughing in the face of your fear.

It’s a powerfully simple yet highly effective way for you to feel that you’re back in control. Try it and discover for yourself how you can tilt the emotional balance in your favour. It’s often the simplest solutions that prove to be the most effective.

If you found this idea helpful, please feel free to share the post and encourage others to free themselves from the bonds of fear. Let’s make today the day when we can move beyond the limitations imposed by our fears and anxieties.