Fear Epidemic Runs Economy

If you believe violent videos don’t create violent cultures, or constant terrorism talk doesn’t chill human brains, you’d likely also deny that fear creates frantic financial failures too. Fact is, it’s doing just that.

In reality, financial experts increasingly warn us that fear can drain an economy, and it makes sense if you consider the mental disaster fear creates. While cynics continue to cry for justice or toss blame around, thankfully others speak out to help transform fear into renewed financial confidence.   How so? 

Warren Buffet warned CNBC that the economy has now changed the very culture of our nation, because fear is contagious. The New York Times claimed that fear is rational, given the state of uncertainty in the current economy. Do you agree? Wall Street continues to recycle messages of fear, in spite of any stimulants the government shuffles through their ranks.

The opposite of fear is confidence, that fuels mind-bending strategies for change and reaches beyond fears that stunt renewal. How so?

Fear causes cynics to react without much reflection. Why so?  Dangerous chemicals such as cortisol rev up in brains focused on negative or scary news. Driven by cortisol, it’s no surprise that knee-jerk responses tend to follow. That’s how brains work. It’s also true that people respond differently to fearful situations such as job loss, and that chemical and electrical activity differs in every brain. Where some run or point fingers over sinking economy,  others optimize opportunities for change. Through taming their amygdala in tough times, successful people win wonders in the most difficult financial situations. Have you seen it happen?

Confidence, the opposite of fear, triggers chemicals such serotonin for winning reactions that open the brain to solutions, in spite of difficulties. Fueled by mental vigor, the high performance mind will often spark reconfigured systems to replace the broken foundations that drained money in the first place. Can you see why fear, blaming or venting works less well in tough economic times, where brains crave to see beauty, hold out  hope, build community, run with solutions, and craft a better way forward?

So where to start if you’ve focused more on the fear side of ledgers? Win brain-bending benefits on the the other side of fear. How so?  By acting confidently, one step at a time. Amazingly,  each positive act will literally reshape the brain for more of the same, until you too become part of drop-dead solutions that transform financial loss into finer tomorrows.

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19 Comments

  1. I overheard a man in the supermarket, tell another worker that he was working there to “ride out the storm.” He had been a salesman for one of the top pharmaceutical companies. I really liked his spirit. He knew even the pharmaceuticals have to reposition themselves. It wasn’t about him and he was working to give himself space to make a good move for himself. In my mind that was the voice of confidence and not fear. I wish we could hear more voices like his.

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Premio Dardos Awards

  2. Ed Brenegar says:

    This is interesting for me because I see Trust and Confidence tied to one another. Trust is a measure of the integrity of the person, and confidence is related to a belief in a person’s competency to do what they say they will do.

    If this is so, fear is the opposite of confidence, then doubt is the opposite of trust. The question that I continue to ask is “How should leaders develop trust and confidence in their ability to lead?”

    They develop trust by being honest, realistic and positive. They develop confidence by being competent. Being able to demonstrate that you can do what you claim validates. And if the stakes are high, then I think you have to begin small. Small wins give people confidence to trust that you are going to come through in the end.

    A last thing, my serotonin levels are up since I stopped watch TV news. Even though I know things are bad economically, I’m not constantly overwhelmed by the message which becomes a distraction from what’s important.

    I’m glad to know a bit more about the relationship between cortisol and serotonin. Thanks.

  3. eweber says:

    What a compelling story to spark alive every key element at the center of this post. From your description this man has already found answers for his life, and for others, and will likely do far more of the same. Imagine wearing the same plasticity in our own minds and finding its ability to lead into answers that rock! It also reminds me to to look away from naysayers and walk closer to folks like the man in the supermarket! Thanks Robyn, you inspire so much of the same!

  4. eweber says:

    Ed, I am intrigued by the way you walked these words along until they lined up and made sense by the ways they work together. The opposite of doubt – or trust – turns an ordinary day into wonder!

    To act honestly is to grow new dendrite brain cells for more of the same, and each time we trust we also develop new neuron pathways for more trust.

    So easy to rant about what failing us these days — yet everything I know about the human brain shouts the opposite!

    Your TV example says it all. Take the opposite to watch neg news too — and say we watch a great DVD about a man or woman who overcame doubt by trusting and watch the narrative trigger serotonin for overcoming.

    Then it takes acting on that trust, even in one small step that tangibly trusts though, to reshape the brain for more confidence to trust and focus on solutions with integrity. Mental rewiring is a cool process that links to solutions in tough times! Have you found it to be so?

    Love the philosophical way you move to cool conclusions, and help others to do the same. Now there is a brain’s plasticity in action, Ed!

  5. Ed Borasky says:

    It’s difficult to tell which side some people are on these days. Warren Buffet is one of the wealthiest men in the world, and I think it’s instructive to look at just how he got to be so wealthy. To be brief, he studied the works of Benjamin Graham, one of the founders of the “value” school of investing. Value investors buy stocks that are low-priced relative to the intrinsic value of the companies. They’re in it for the long haul.

    So I’d like to know why Warren Buffet is saying things like this:

    ‘Warren Buffett said yesterday that the US economy had “fallen off a cliff”, describing the current crisis as “an economic Pearl Harbor” as concern spread about the US Administration’s fitful attempts to halt the collapse of the American banking sector. ‘

    And then today, Citibank announced a profit for the first two months of 2009 and the Dow gained 5.8%. In the words of Ricky Ricardo, “Warren, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!” :)

  6. Brad Shorr says:

    Ellen, My financial adviser calls this raging negativity “financial pornography.” The media is interested in selling advertising, and the best way to do that is through sensationalist news reporting. People love extremes – why is that? We love “reality” shows where people eat worms or lose 500 pounds. We love reading articles about the star athlete who gets shot in a strip club. Why should financial news be any different? Sex sells. Scandal sells. Fear sells. We have a lot of reconditioning to do!

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Writing for Business Blogs – Lessons Learned

  7. eweber says:

    Ed, you make a great case for the sides people take, and who could disagree! Thanks for the keen insights here. I’ve noticed that many more angles exist than folks account for and that each one creates a framework for dealing with the problems and creating innovative solutions for improvements forward. Interestingly it’s not always a person bank account that shows the difference, as fear is a mental choice, and while brains offer equipment to handle fear, it takes skill to engage those power tools:-) What do you think?

  8. eweber says:

    Thanks Brad, what an interesting concept of fear as a seller. It is a conditioner and it also takes reconfiguration to alter the pattern. This is also a serious case for making better choices about what we support in media, videos, and in systems that sell us sleaze.

    On another note the brain leaps to novelty and research shows why that is http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/memory/novelty-stokes-memory/ . In reading your thoughtful post I see how novelty too can become a choice for well being and innovation, or for disaster and confusion. Hmmm – that’s another blog:-) and thanks Brad.

  9. Conrad says:

    Ellen, it’s amazing how very similar dynamics rule our lives at almost all scales. Amazing, but not surprising. After all, a brain is a brain is a brain. One would expect a collection of them to operate on pretty much the same principles as one of them.

    It doesn’t take much reflection to see how important confidence is to us as individuals. Collections of individuals going along the same lines probably magnify the effect. It makes it even more important that we stay collectively confident.

    Conrads last blog post..Happy Birthday to Barbie Millicent Roberts

  10. eweber says:

    Conrad what a wonderful image of the collective mind we need in order to build stronger communities – thanks! Miy mind immediately jumps to the challenge of wondering – what would it take to inspire such a collective mind of confidence? How would one do this effectively when the chips are down for so many folks, who have not used this mental equipment to win? Thoughts?

  11. Conrad says:

    Ellen, one of the things that would help would be more media coverage of victories by individuals and groups. How has this person managed to reinvent or thrive? What has the group done to adapt and succeed? What is some of the social and emotional growth being engendered by need?

    We need to see it as a cause we can win and then show one another that we are enlisting to win it. You do this on a continuing basis, fair weather and foul, with this blog and with Twitter. That is the approach and attitude that can help. I’ve always felt great about what you teach and stand for. It inspired me to reinvent and reframe my efforts along new, creative and constructive pathways. It is a positive chain reaction with centers everywhere when more and more of us take up that effort.

    The media are no longer just the commercial media. Social media is becoming a larger and larger influence in our society and it can be one of the forces for positive change.

    Conrads last blog post..Winky Dink and You

  12. eweber says:

    Wow – Conrad, thanks for your encouraging and kind words. It is apparent to me that we can also encourage one another to move in a direction of positive change and I am inspired here by the way you suggest this is a chain reaction that we do and others will also find their best pathways as a result! What a great thought.

    From a brain perspective I’m also intrigued by the fact that we build new neuron pathways for change in the brain each time we change a rut or routine for the creative initiative you mention. Makes it not only a doable way to develop the brain, but also a winning way to live — I agree — and thanks for the inspiration!

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  15. Derick E. wilkes says:

    There is no fear of the future, when there is a plan in place!

    Your future has been planned before the foundation of the world and you can be in faith because of the plan.

    Faith always has a Plan!

    God has a plan for our lives and it is written in the word of God.

    Fear will attract you to the thing you fear.

    Faith is the substance of things hoped for… What are we hoping for? rather than focus our attention on the voices of the negative let’s focus on what will produce faith in our hearts.

    respectfully submitted!

    Pastor Wilkes

  16. […] economy,  without consenus creates fear and […]

  17. […] Confidence would fuel mind-bending strategies for change so that fear from the cynics would no longer stunt financial renewal or barricade wealth from reaching fairer distributions. […]

  18. Amy says:

    That’s exactly why Dennis Kneale was so popular this summer as a filler on CNBC. His mantra as a cheerleader for the economy to “Keep Hope Alive” and “Keep Positive” because it was going up, up, up…. that wore thin quick.

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