The Emotional Intelligence of Fear

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Fear

emotional intelligence fear leadership development coaching

Fear is the emotion that arises when your body perceives danger. Once triggered, it will stimulate your adrenal glands to release adrenaline (epinephrine) into your bloodstream. This chemical response signals you to fight or take flight in order to protect yourself. In the case of dire circumstances where you intuitively know that you aren’t strong enough to fight “it” and know that outrunning the danger is also not an option, you may freeze instead.

You should always listen to your body when it sends the fight or flight signal…ALWAYS! Here is an example… I went to an appointment one day at a building I had never been to. My appointment was on the third floor, so I decided to take the elevator. After the meeting, I got on the elevator to go back to the first floor. The elevator stopped at the second floor and a man who looked like a maintenance person got on the elevator. Instantly, my blood started pumping. My adrenaline was through the roof. I didn’t even think and immediately got off the elevator onto the second floor. The elevator door closed with me standing on a floor I had no intention of being on. I can’t explain to you what happened, logically, but physically, my body told me to get the hell off the elevator NOW! Maybe this type of situation has happened to you, possibly when walking to your car in an unfamiliar parking lot after dark. Whatever the case, ALWAYS listen to that type of fear.

I want to caution you here. Your mind is so conditioned to want to fit in and be accepted that it will cleverly intercede if you give it any opportunity. Furthermore, the brain is lazy (you can look this up on YouTube to learn more.) In the elevator example, if I would have waited even a milli-second, my mind would have tried talking me out of getting off the elevator. It would have said, “Why are you doing that? The guy looks normal enough,” or “Don’t get off the elevator now, he’s going to think you think he’s a psycho,” or “What are people going to think if I get off on this floor? I don’t know anyone on this floor” or “If I get off here, I’ll have to wait for the elevator to come back again.” Do not listen to these rationalizations! These are similar to the explanations people give when they hear gunshots. The mind right away thinks it is fireworks, rather than gunshots, because if it is gunshots, it would mean that they have to do something, like get the heck out of there. If it’s fireworks, they can just ignore it and go about their business. In this way, the brain is lazy. Don’t trust the brain’s laziness over your instinctual fear and subsequent adrenaline rush.

Fear is a warning energy. Its purpose is to protect you. If you block or resist your fearful feelings, you will feel overwhelmed and anxious as a result. I think many of us feel this way due to the fearful/violent situations that are happening in our communities, countries and the world. Deep down we feel the fear, but there is nothing that we can do with it. No amount of adrenaline is going to protect us from what is happening to others. Think about all of the shootings in schools and public places. Think about kids and young adults that go missing. There are a lot of frightening things going on in the world right now. I know for myself, I can’t go into a movie theater without planning what my exit route will be in case a shooter enters the room. I shouldn’t have to feel fear and anxiety when I go to the movies, but I do. Just know that when your adrenaline starts pumping, you need to take action immediately. Don’t think about it, just get yourself to safety.

Next week, we’ll explore the relationship between thoughts, feelings and actions. This is how beliefs are formed.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to

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About the author

Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. administrator

As a Certified Spiritual Life Coach, I specialize in emotional and social intelligence coaching for business leaders and key managers to increase effectiveness and overall satisfaction in both business and personal arenas. I provide one-on-one coaching in person or over the phone.