Eliminate Fear by Entering the Flow State
Normally when you give someone the middle finger you will be looking at them in the eye and be kind of pissed off, right? Well, giving the middle finger to Fear is the opposite. To Eliminate Fear you don’t give it any attention and you don’t actually have an opinion of it.
The secret of eliminating fear is to trigger yourself into the flow state where your challenge and skill level are in a sweet spot of growth. In Flow, key areas of your brain are in a transient hypofrontality; Transient, meaning temporary and hypo meaningless. These temporary lessened areas unlock your full potential.
I’m going to explain one area that is “lessened” during flow that helps you give the middle finger to fear and excel in your skill, sport, profession and in life.
IT’S KIND OF NUTTY
The almond-shaped Amygdala which is located in each hemisphere and part of the limbic system is known to involve many of our emotions and motivations. In particular, the ones related to survival like fear. The Amygdala is a mass of nuclei (mass of cells) situated deep within your temporal lobe of the brain. Your Amygdala also manages what memories are stored and where they are stored.
Scientific studies of the amygdala have pointed towards the location of neurons in the amygdala that as we know, are responsible for fear and conditioning. Fear is the most researched response due to the ease of creating the situation and measuring it. Fear conditioning is a process in which you learn through repeated experiences to fear something in particular. This repeated conditioning can cause reprogramming of the brain to form new memories and trigger fear on command.
Loud, unpleasant sounds, scary situations can cause your brain to rewire and form memories that will reform your perceptions. The emotional amygdala heightens your perception of sound and danger and is stored as distressing.
Digesting this information, you can understand how you might have been unconsciously programming yourself to fear, dislike, anxiety, scared of things. To such an extent that this unconscious fear programming has blocked your true potential of hacking the flow state and excelling in your life’s direction.
FEAR RESPONSE - THE “OH SHIT” SITUATIONS
Ok, before we go any further, this response explanation is a basic explanation. I have not fully stripped the responses down using the Polyvagal theory. However, stay tuned for this in up and coming posts the Polyvagal theory.
The fear response, better known as the stress response begins with your sensitive amygdala who is first to receive the threat of the stressful situation. The amygdala emotionally interprets the visuals and sounds of danger and sends instant notifications to the hypothalamus.
The master gland known as the hypothalamus is el capitano. It says “jump,” you say “ how high” Your hypothalamus communicates to the rest of the body through the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary body functions such as breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, dilation or constriction of key blood vessels, bronchioles and the homeostasis of the organs and glands.
Your Autonomic nervous system has two branches. Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system. The Sympathetic nervous system is your fight or flight response whereas your Parasympathetic nervous system is your rest and digest. So, one arousal and the other calms.
So the distress signal sent from the amygdala to the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system by sending distress signals through the autonomic nerves to the adrenal glands. The adrenals respond by pumping adrenaline (known as the hormone epinephrine) into the bloodstream, as the adrenaline circulates throughout your body bringing on physiological changes.
Heart rate is up pushing blood to the muscles and other vital organs. Blood pressure goes up, breathing increases, drawing in more oxygen feeding the brain with increases alertness. Sharpening hearing and all other senses. Simultaneously epinephrine triggers the release of blood sugar (glucose and fats from temporary storages sites).
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET
The communication between the amygdala and hypothalamus happens so fast that the brain’s visual centers haven’t had a chance to fully process the data. That’s why we hear for supernatural ninja reactions from people who face extreme danger and do something about it.
After the adrenalin kick begins to subside, the hypothalamus activated state two of the stress response. Better known as the HPA axis. Which keeps the “pedal to the metal” of the sympathetic nervous system. When your brain senses that the danger is still present the hypothalamus release CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) which goes to the pituitary gland, asking for the ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) to be released.
ACTH makes its way towards the adrenal glands, promoting the release of cortisol. Cortisol give you a “heavy foot” so you keep the “pedal to the metal”
IT’S OK FOR A LITTLE WHILE BUT WATCH OUT
So our fear/stress response is needed and required, but in the wrong hands can cause a dramatic limiting effect for triggering the flow state therefore truly excelling in your field. Not only can you programme yourself to fail through fear, BUT you can BE programmed to fear and fail. PLUS you can make it even worse by keeping you “pedal to the metal” by keeping the sympathetic system on overdrive flood your system with the number of stress hormone. Aka Cortisol which in turn the sense of lead feet hindering your exit for the struggle phase of the 4 cycles of flow.
SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER WILSON?
Learn to hack the flow state.
When we enter the flow state we activate our optimal performance state of mind and body. Our brain harmonises towards a transient hypofrontality. The term, coined by Dr. Arne Dietrich of the department of social and behavioral sciences at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon is where areas of our pre-frontal cortex lessen. Transient; meaning temporary, Hypo: under, beneath, below or less. And frontality: it refers to the frontal lobe (in particular the pre-frontal cortex)
The complete opposite of Hypo is Hyper: hyperactive or unusually energetic.
Studies have shown hyperactivity, creates hyperactivity of the amygdala, hyper-vigilance and hyper-awareness that leads to anxiety and unproductive stress. When we look deeper into the study carried our by Dr Arne Dietrich we find that when your ventromedial prefrontal Cortex (VMPEC) is agitated so is the amygdala and the chain reaction of fear is stimulated.
EMPOWERING KNOWLEDGE BUT...
Now, this empowering knowledge that when you enter flow we enter a transient hypofrontality unconsciously giving the finger to fear. Closing the door of distraction and opening the door of your personal potential. This state is achievable for you but reprogramming your fear response and entering flow must be and only achieved through consistent practice/ training. If you haven’t already got our free flow state course then sign up today and 4 flow state courses giving you're the tools to train in the flow.
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Thanks for reading,
Hypothesis Transient hypofrontality as a mechanism for the psychological effects of exercise Arne Dietrich ⁎
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon Received 11 September 2003; received in revised form 24 January 2004; accepted 10 July 2005
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