Finding Your Strength through Fear

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Oftentimes we hear from our patients – prospective and current – as well as their family members that they are afraid, or that their diagnosis has them feeling fearful. This reaction is completely rational, and we often tell them that their feelings are valid and it is important to recognize the validity of their emotions.

What we also tell them, and what we would like to share with you today, is the science behind fear, and how you can transform it into something powerful: strength.

What exactly is fear?

Fear is an emotion we feel at various times throughout our life; sometimes a child will walk into a room quietly without us hearing, only to tug at our shirt, eliciting a frightened response. Other times, we watch suspenseful movies and receive fearful thrills throughout. Fear comes through a multitude events, whether we seek it out or not. Fear itself has scientific and rational roots, as it “fear is an adaptive behavior that we have to help identify threats. It is an ability that has allowed us as humans to survive predators and natural disasters.”[1] We have the ability to elicit fear as a response because it has helped our ancestors survive throughout the past thousands of years; fear is a powerful skill that helps us to recognize unfamiliar situations that we don’t have an automatic or instinctual response to.

Courage usually follows fear; if we are unable to avoid the thing we are afraid of, we utilize our courage in order to face the fear and then move on. As described on Scientific American, neuroscientists recently discovered that “the mechanics of courage in the brain … involves a competition. When fear reaches a certain threshold, pushing both your subjective feeling of it and your bodily sweat, you would succumb. Your amygdala drives that fear, but internal disagreement overcomes it. The agent behind this disagreement is the sgACC. It acts to control and suppress bodily fear responses, and sends nerve projections into the amygdala that shut it down.”[2] This is significant because knowing the biological and chemical ways in which the brain responds to fearful situations can help to combat it - to eliminate the fear or assist the brain in recognizing and minimizing the fear, thus making strides to move past it. 

You have the power to transform your fear.

The same study mentioned above, which can be found on Scientific American, describes how the transition from fear to courage occurs within yourself: “what matters is that we have seen courage at work in the brain, and we all have the same basic neural equipment. From this point on, it’s up to us.”

As such, we have compiled a few tips to help you turn your fear into courage and, in turn, recognize the power that you have as an individual and the leader of your future:

  • Self-reflect. Talk positively to yourself, and give yourself the time you need to fully comprehend the situation that you are in, as well as why you believe you are feeling fearful.

  • Recognize that your fear is an opportunity for growth. After your time of reflection, make sure that you see your situation as a time for improvement, rather than a fearful predicament. This will allow you to become a better person, closer to who you ultimately want to be, and therefore you should embrace the situation for all that it is worth. You may feel fear, but it will help you to become a stronger person.

  • Tap into your support community. Here at CMN, we firmly believe in the power of surrounding yourself with a positive community of loved ones– regardless of if you are blood related. They are there for you through thick and thin, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Maybe you just want to talk, want a hug, or want someone else’s opinion on the matter. Whatever the reason, know that your community is there for you unconditionally.

  • Make a decision. If your situation requires you to make a situation, such as that of choosing a hospital for cancer treatments, make the decision. There is time for reflection, but you also need to act. Sometimes we put off making the decision because we want to be entirely sure, or we want the timing to right, but after a certain point, you must make a decision. Trust yourself, and make the jump! You are stronger than you think you are.

  • Celebrate yourself! Congratulations, you have faced your fear with courage, dignity, strength, and grace! Facing your fears is no easy task, but once you have, take time to feel empowered and reflect on the process. You deserve it! 

Want more information? Contact us!

CMN takes extra steps to ensure that all of our patients feel comfortable throughout their stay with us, as well as before and after. We believe in and stand by compassionate care, and this includes mental and emotional support. All of your emotions, concerns, and thoughts are valid to us, and we would love to talk to you about coming to CMN to get treatment. You can email us at; click here for other ways to contact us at your convenience.

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[1]Kounang, Nadia. “What is the science behind fear?” CNN.2015.

[2]Schiller, Daniela. “Snakes in the MRI Machine: A Study of Courage.” Scientific American.2010.

CMN Hospital