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Fear is an emotion.
It’s a very valuable emotion that if used well keeps you out of harms way.
Sometimes a brain and body can get carried away with it though, and create fear in response to things that don’t really require a fear response. Once fear is created, it’s easy to get sucked into its overwhelming message; that you are in trouble and need to find safety.
You do have a natural antidote to fear. I call it open intelligence.
Above is a representation of how I think of the brain in action, also known as mind.
Let’s start with closed intelligence, which you can also think of as your subconscious mind. This is the part of your brain that’s pretty set. It contains all the information you’ve learned along the road of life that your brain determined is useful for:
- learned aspects of your personality
- the belief system to support your reality
This portion of your intelligence is surrounded by what I would call ego. I think of the ego as the guardian of all this learned intelligence, or thinking, that the brain utilizes daily to take you from getting out of bed to going back in bed alive and well. Your emotions, including fear, are the chemical tools used by this part of your brain to communicate quickly with your body (via the nervous system) in order to get it to react fast.
If you’ve ever wondered why you, or someone else, can’t stop reacting the same way to something, it’s simply due to the fact that the reaction is embedded in closed intelligence.
Open Intelligence, or the conscious mind, isn’t protected and closed off. Open Intelligence allows you to:
- be open to new thinking
- recognize sudden inspiration
- question your reactions and behaviors
- observe your closed intelligence
- filter the dumb stuff your closed intelligence might want you to do
In the illustration above, if you think of the large circle as the actual boundaries of your head, you’ll notice that open intelligence extends out past it. I believe that you have the ability to pick up on thought that exists outside of you. I know that sounds kind of woo, but there are plenty of examples of humans who have done this. I think inventors are a perfect example of this, especially people who have envisioned entirely original things and figured out how to bring those things into reality. Something entirely new doesn’t exist in your closed intelligence, the area packed with the stuff you already know.
Invention comes from beyond your closed internal vision. So does the conscious separation that can occur when you become practiced in hanging out in the open part of your mind, rather than the closed.
When you become skilled at viewing the world and yourself through open intelligence, something kind of magical happens. The fearful thoughts your closed intelligence suggests to you become just that: suggestions. A suggestion is not a fact. A suggestion is just one way of thinking about or handling something. As you learn to exist in the open intelligence space, you can see how the closed part of your mind is offering you possibilities, not definite facts.
So why don’t we just think more often in that open space? Let’s look at that illustration again, but with some words change:
The difference in reactions
Notice that the Closed Intelligence circle now says “Quick Reaction”, and the Open Intelligence space says “Considerate Reaction”.
Your brain developed to house a lot of learned, quick reactions so you could respond as quickly as needed (hopefully) to a dangerous situation. This area of the brain also embedded all the habitual behaviors you have that make life easier, like talking, walking, brushing your teeth, getting dressed with ease, etc. Closed Intelligence is full of thought that leads to quick reactions.
Moving up into Open Intelligence, the reactions created from this space are considerate, in other words carefully thought out. These reactions can happen relatively quickly as well, but not as fast as they do from the Closed Intelligence space. And in a physical world that can be chaotic and full of accidents and predators, quick reactions can mean the difference between life and death. But they can also mean the difference between overreacting and wrecking a relationship, or taking a little time to consider whether the suggestion from your closed intelligence is the best reaction for the moment.
Closed and Open Intelligence are always working together. I’m sure you’ve had moments where you recognize that a fear response you are having doesn’t quite match the situation at hand, but you don’t feel like you can control it.
The truth is you can if you can manage to get up into your Open Intelligence, and get considerate and deliberate about what is happening. Another word for this is mindfulness. Mindfulness will always help dispel fear. When you take control, and task your Open Intelligence to just observe what Closed Intelligence is suggesting, that very task creates a calmer, less fearful space in your mind. You now have something to do rather than chasing the Closed Intelligence suggestion down the rabbit hole.
There are several ways to build the skill of rising up into Open Intelligence on a regular basis. In my next blog post I’ll share my favorites with you.