Hope plays a significant role in transcending fear. It has a Yin and Yang type of relationship in your brain.
There are numerous examples of people who utilize the power of hope to overcome adversity. One study was conducted with terminally ill cancer patients which found that those patients who were hopeful lived longer after receiving irradiation treatment than those who lack hope. Hope goes beyond improving your health. It also improves your wealth. A study conducted with first-year law students found that those students who were rated as optimistic made more money ten years later than those students who held a pessimistic viewpoint. You can probably recall an instance in your life when the only thing you may have had that you could hold on to was hope and hope made all the difference.
How Hope Works In The Brain
You may be familiar with the amygdala. Which is commonly referred to as the fear center of the brain. The amygdala does not just process fear. It has other functions. It is also involved in emotions and memory. Let's say you are bitten by a dog, it will be involved in storing that memory. That memory will be readily available to fear dogs in the future. The interesting thing about hope and optimism is that when you are experiencing those emotions, it is processed in the same space that fear is processed in. Hence, if it is occupied with hope and optimism, it won’t be processing threats and fear. Now the amygdala will process the stronger of the two emotions first. If you cultivate hope and optimism, it will win out over fear. However, this is important to understand, it will always default to fear. When a threat is sensed whether real or not the amygdala will zoom in on the potential threat and if it is warranted and the frontal cortex gets involved it will take over. This is why developing a mindful awareness of your ongoing thought process is so important.
When you create the habit of positive thinking and hope it moves you unconsciously to push the fear out of your brain. So, It is important to establish and reinforce those habits. Make sure you are writing in your gratitude journal EVERY DAY. Learn to be mindful of what the thought machine is creating. If you're faced with a strong negative state get out a pen and paper and write down or say out loud ten things that are good about the current situation you are in. Think about the cause of the negative state and think the opposite. Shine the light of your awareness on the thoughts that will get you out of that state.
If you are a reader of this blog and live in the Phoenix area, I would strongly encourage you to go to www.mindfulaccord.com and register for the workshop ‘Learning To Live Fearlessly,” taking place on Saturday, May 6th from 10 -3 at Compass CBS. We will be discussing this important topic and give you the methods to overcome your fears. This includes the ones you may be aware of, but more importantly the ones you are unconscious of.