The pregnancy test was a formality, really. I knew it would be negative, but figured I’d go ahead and take a test so I could move on mentally.
When two pink lines marched across the pregnancy test window, I was shocked at my physical reaction.
My heart began to pound. My breathing quickened. My mouth went dry, and my feet felt as if weights were attached. Worst-case scenarios raced through my mind. I was stuck inside a revolving door of fear.
The fear was real. And it was suffocating.
The Power of Fear
What is fear? At its simplest, fear is a response that protects us from negative events—a survival response. But for anyone who has felt the cold fingers of fear—and let’s be honest, who hasn’t?—it’s much more complex. A moment of fear can cause us to make decisions that contradict our very beliefs.
So what’s actually happening inside of us when a life-changing moment shakes us to our core? Here are 3 ways fear impacts you:
1. Fear affects you physically
Near the center of your brain is the amygdala, which is “responsible for the perception of emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness.” When you come in contact with a perceived fear, the amygdala activates and gets to work. If you’ve heard of the “fight or flight” response, this is where it originates. The amygdala alerts your nervous system and begins to release stress hormones. This results in increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration.
Amazingly, even your blood flow is impacted. Your blood will begin flowing away from your heart and into your limbs, preparing you to either run for your life or start attacking your source of fear – hence the “fight or flight” response.
When faced with fear, our bodies quite literally go into survival mode. The fear is real, and our bodies know it.
2. Fear affects you mentally
Fear makes several parts of your brain activate—but it also makes others shut down. When the amygdala starts working, the cerebral cortex becomes impaired. Guess what your cerebral cortex’s job is? That’s right – reasoning and making judgements.
So when you’re in a haunted house and you instinctively curl into a ball or scream and cover your face when someone jumps out at you – even when you know you’re not actually in harm’s way – it’s because your cerebral cortex is going haywire.
When faced with fear, our ability to think clearly and make rational decisions becomes defective.
3. Fear affects you emotionally
The same processes in the brain that short-circuit your ability to make a rational decision will also impact your emotional responses. According to research from the University of Minnesota, “fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This [leaves] us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions.”
When fear triggers these immediate responses, your brain stores those reactions in your long-term memory so that every time the source of fear (or something like it) resurfaces, your brain remembers it negatively.
When faced with fear, our ability to regulate our emotions and view our situation objectively becomes impaired.
When Faced with Fear
How can this knowledge help us make wise decisions in the midst of our fear? We can’t completely stop the biological responses of our brains when an unexpected event takes place. But we can train ourselves to slow down and view our situation objectively before making a rash decision.
When I saw that positive pregnancy test, I immediately assumed the worst. I’m thankful I didn’t stay in that place of isolated fear. I surrounded myself with people who spoke truth to me and offered unconditional love and support. Being equipped with practical resources and a healthy support network made all the difference.
If you are unexpectedly pregnant and wrestling with feelings of fear, you are not alone. At The Pregnancy Network, we care about you and want to empower you to face your unplanned pregnancy without fear.
When fear threatens to take over, here are 3 simple steps you can take before making a decision:
- Confirm your pregnancy and receive a free ultrasound. You can make an appointment with us right now by clicking here.
- Get fully informed about all your options. You have three choices available to you: parenting, abortion, and adoption. We can help you as you think through each option.
- Sleep On It. Don’t allow yourself to make a major life decision in the midst of fear. You have time to think through your options, and we are here to help you.
We would consider it a privilege to walk alongside you throughout your pregnancy. Call 336-274-4881 for a free and confidential appointment today.