Kimberly Williams-Paisley on the Today Show
What is the difference (if any) with fear that we invent and fear that is more instinct, such as fear caused by a sudden loud noise? One is invented by the mind, and one is a response to outside stimuli. Are they the same or different?
Fear that is instinctual is rooted in the organism’s drive for self-preservation. It is a biological warning system that there might be a threat to one’s physical safety. It causes increases sensory alertness and a host of biochemical changes that prepares the body for action. This mechanism has obvious advantages when one’s life is endangered.
Fear that is generated from the ego’s misplaced sense of identity, such as fear of failure or fear of public speaking, is different. Even though your physical safety is not threatened, your body still creates the same stress responses that a real threat would, and without the physical activity to convert adrenaline and other hormones into energy, they instead contribute to your baseline level of stress in the body. To eliminate ego-generated fear I recommend meditation to correct the essential confusion of one’s true Self and also a simple form of body-centered self-inquiry, such as John Prendergast’s technique described in his book In Touch, to dismantle the ego’s unexamined beliefs.