Is Fear Contagious?

the scream by Munch
The Scream by Munch

Sadness, joy, disgust, anger, and fear are the fundamental emotions of living beings. Fear warns us of danger and drives us to survival. When we face a threat, our body produces a hormone -adrenaline – which induces physical and mental changes and prepares us for action or non-action: flight or fight.

What’s scaring us today? Surely not the attack of mammoths, but possibly the loss of a job, a change of life or the loss of a person, and especially the Covid-19. The triggers of fear have changed, but bodily and mental changes and behavioural reactions remain the same as our ancestors when they faced a beast attack. Fear, therefore, has a usefulness for humanity. However, it becomes a problem when it is experienced exaggeratedly or out of context.

The psychological reaction to dangerous stimuli leads to a change in the way we think: new thinking becomes adaptive in that context, as it prepares us to face a threat. For example, when we are under particular stress, we become more focused on the problem, we focus longer and increase our problem-solving skills. Similarly, we will also feel a change in our emotions, such as being more irritable or tense.

The person with an excessive fear response to many situations begins to focus exclusively on what he or she fears, usually worrying that a problem has no solution or catastrophising it. Over time, a negative thoughts spiral develops, and they perceive people and things as a source of possible threats. Such negative spiral forms a vicious circle with bodily changes. In this way, stress remains continuously high, leading to an increase in discomfort and worries. This factor induces people to focus on adverse and insoluble events rather than positive ones.

Fear Is Contagious
Several scientific studies have shown that the human brain is susceptible to emotional contagion. We transmit emotions through the so-called mirror neurons: nerve cells that allow us to empathise with others and also absorb their bad moods, negativity, stress, fear and even panic.

Three Powerful Antidotes to Fear

  1. CALM
    Rationality allows us to reason in a sharp way, without excessive interference caused by fear and the moods of others. It will enable us to stop, think about what to do concretely, considering the best alternatives and knowing which sources of information to listen to understand how to act.
  2. LOVE
    When we are well, our body produces hormones that increase our well-being and counteract stress hormones such as cortisol. For example, when we do something that gives us pleasure and satisfaction, we create more dopamine, the motivation hormone. Therefore, we have to love ourselves and others, even with small gestures: a hug, a phone call, a game together, a walk – if you can do it at this time.
  3. EMBRACE CHANGE
    That is undoubtedly the fundamental point of the matter. Understanding change and accepting it is the difference between a life lived in terror and a life lived with awareness and meaningfulness, and after all, a fulfilled life.

How can we manage change?
We assume that, sometimes, change does not depend on us, as in the case of this pandemic. We can positively work on our minds.

Here are four exercises:

  • Accept what you’re feeling about the change. And ask yourself why it upsets you so much, look for the reason.
  • Realise that change is inevitably part of life.
  • Try to put the changes in the right perspective, looking for the bright side.
  • Accept the fact that humans, by their nature, are dynamic beings with adaptability.

At this point, we must take action so that we are not trapped in inactivity. In this way:

  • Manage the stress or discomfort caused by change by engaging in something that relieves the tensions you’re under: Keep busy!
  • Analyse the problem and talk to your partner, a friend, someone you trust.
  • Set goals and prepare a plan to achieve them, a detailed but also flexible strategy, because it is difficult to predict precisely this new situation in which we find ourselves now.

“There is nothing permanent, except change” (Heraclitus)

Acceptance, therefore, means facing a situation and seeking solutions; learning to live with the new condition in the best possible way and being happy with it. Attention: Never fall into the error of resignation! It is dangerous.

Acceptance means finding the balance to be happy with what we have to live; it means finding the formula to solve, improve, adapt, respect and see the positive side of the situation. It means understanding things as they are. Resignation, on the other hand, consists of living an annoying situation, because there is no other remedy left, making suffering as acceptable as possible and enduring what has to be lived. It is absolutely to be avoided.

That’s why acceptance means change.

Adopting a new perspective is always a launch into the void with your eyes closed. That’s why it’s scary, but any change can be an incredible win situation because it gives us many new opportunities.

The change in your life can happen in an instant, once you’ve decided to make it. As soon as you make a decision, you’re already creating the future.

However, the secret to making real change lies in persevering. With calm, with love, with determination, we make our plan of action and begin to build a new life.

I leave you only one practical cue to imagine your future in an era of profound and fast-moving change given by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

A lot of people are losing their jobs. In China, 5 million people have lost their jobs in 2 months (January, February 2020). It is time to reinvent yourself and learn new skills and invest in yourself. Without fear but with awareness, we learn how to embrace change. A great option comes to us from the digital economy.

What is the Digital Economy?

The digital economy is the worldwide network of economic activities, commercial transactions and professional interactions that are enabled by information and communications technologies (ICT). 

The digital economy represents the macro universe that revolves around business innovation. According to the latest forecasts, the digital economy is cutting the market in two. On the one hand, there are companies and people that are renewing themselves, riding the digital transformation. On the other hand, there are all the companies and people that are failing because they are anchored to traditional logics.

I made this choice some time ago and launched my business. From the bottom of my heart, I recommend this choice, especially at this time. There are distinct advantages:

  • Working from home and at flexible hours: this is possible thanks to connection tools and information sharing platforms. You work independently and measure your success by achieving results. No toxic environments (unpleasant office, colleagues or bosses) and more productivity.
  • Overcoming the concept of Customer Care towards a Customer Experience concept: New strategies can be developed to involve the customer in all phases of the activity. Coaching and mentorship become new tools for professional and personal growth.
  • Zero time wasted in commuting to work, less pollution, saving both energy and money. The planet thanks and the body as well! At home, you can eat healthier and cheaper food.
  • Last but not least: working from home means enjoying your family, your human dimension. All you need to do is organise yourself well to get the most out of it, both professionally and family-wise. Loving your partner and your children without conditioning time is certainly what we all need. Finally, we will eliminate the weekend rush: when we can do what we like, we live the weekend every day. When I worked in the office every day, I felt like I was freediving from Monday to Friday: I struggled and endured to make it to Friday night. Then finally, the weekend and happiness. On Sunday night, the depression at the beginning of the new week. And on Monday… lousy mood. Has that ever happened to you? So you know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes I think this virus is a powerful signal from nature to make us understand how dangerous we humans are. We are destroying everything and especially ourselves. We need to reflect, rethink everything, reinvent ourselves, change, return to more sustainable rhythms. Without fear, let’s welcome change, let’s prepare and evolve!

Stay safe and take care.

Book your Free Workshop Series Here to learn more about the digital economy.

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