Fear and the Flight or Fight Reflex – Part 3 of 6

By Jim Harrison (Originally Published By MA Success Magazine)

What can an individual do about his or her personal degree of flight and fight adrenalin?

Absolutely nothing! Each human being has inherited a specific amount of flight and fight adrenalin. Consequently, we must accept our normal reactions to fear, regardless of how desirable or undesirable, how acceptable or unacceptable, it may be to us.

So many people, especially fighters – and even would be fighters – berate themselves because of their personal “fear factor.” By this, I mean those feelings of fear that they encounter prior to – or at the initial outset of – a confrontation, a match or a real fight. Although it is normal to feel irritation or disappointment in ourselves because of our fear, it is absurd to blame ourselves for something we had absolutely no control over- something we were born with or without.

We have inherited all of our physical characteristics, our mental faculties, and our emotional responses. Certainly, every parent would give his or her child every desirable asset and attribute they could possibly think of- beauty, brawn, brains and bravery – if they possibly could. They can’t, and we can’t.

Are we, then, helpless to change our inherited condition? Can we, despite our inherited degree of fear, develop more courage than we were born with?

What we do to change, control or counter any undesirable or unacceptable characteristics we were born with is greatly, if not entirely, up to us – although parents, teachers and mentors can help guide us considerably. Nevertheless, we as individuals are the only ones who can deliver the goods – through desire, discipline and determination.

If you lack intelligence, for example, you can improve your knowledge through education and determination. If you are physically weak, you can improve your physical structure and strength through hard work and determination. If you lack emotional discipline and fortitude, you can, again, improve your attitude, discipline and self-control through sheer desire, will power and determination.

Determination is based on desire – the desire to strengthen any inherent weakness you might have, whether internal or external. And the degree of passion behind your desire will largely determine your outcome. How badly do you want to improve? And how willing are you to do what it takes to succeed at self-improvement.

Only you can answer those questions.

So, does that mean I can learn to control my fear?

Absolutely! Human beings can learn to improve and/or control virtually any characteristic or handicap they have. That is, if they sufficiently desire to, and have – or will develop – the will and the determination to do so.

As a martial artist or a fighter, how can I learn to control my natural, or genetic, fear?

First, by understanding what you are up against. That, again, is why the preceding technical information was used to initiate this chapter. It’s essential for you to understand the problem before you can affect a remedy.

Second, you need to find a solution to the problem. There is a solution, and it must be worked at in stages. So, third, you must learn those stages that a fighter will normally need to improve his level of bravery, and you must then, systematically, follow them.

There are three stages to the process of overcoming your natural fear and increasing your courage. But I must point out that every stage of this solution will be a very difficult challenge for anyone who has not traveled this path before. But then, what goal in this world is not difficult if it is worthwhile?