The Risk Ratio

Fear is part of all of our lives because our Neanderthal minds are threat focused. Ultimately being aware of things that are threatening to us increases our chances of survival and this is the primary job description of our mind. If you want to survive you need to see and respond to risk.

The experiences that we have had across the course of our lives will have tailored what things our mind has added onto its list of ‘threatening/risky things’. How we have responded to these threats will have reinforced the amount of fear that our mind continues to associate with these threats.

Bottom line- it’s all about learning and reinforcement and the key thing to take away from this is that anything we have learned, we can unlearn. We don’t have to carry on responding to things in the same way that we always have- but that’s no easy feat. Equally, some situations are genuinely fearful, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do go through with whatever it is anyway all things considered.

We have to learn to tolerate a little bit of fear and our minds will quickly learn that we can cope with the unknown without dying.

Completing the risk ratio can help us to understand our minds perspective on threats a little bit more. It can help us judge how logical our minds interpretation of the risk is... and quite often when we challenge our Neanderthal mind we can see that its thinking is outdated or illogical.

I'll give you an example, the mind is probably over-egging the probability, exaggerating the consequence, or underestimating our ability to cope with even the worst case scenario. My best advice when you’re trying to complete the ratio is to be really specific and really honest. Make it factual. Look for hard evidence-look for the statistics if you have to. Be wary of all the opinions your mind will try to add into the mix.

Make sure you acknowledge the differences as well; for example, if you are using evidence from your childhood know that you are older and able to act differently now. If you are comparing people, acknowledge the differences in the qualities of those people. If you are thinking about how you’d cope, really play it out in your mind and imagine for a moment exactly what you have to do if the worst case scenario did happen- it's unlikely that you would never be able to move and function ever again.

I guess the very worst case scenario is death. I know we don't want it and you might find this a strange thing to think about but what is the worse thing about dying for you? Quite often when we are really encouraged to contemplate this question it's really bad BUT not as awful as you'd imagined.

If you want to reduce the risk change the information that you're putting into the equation. Make it logical and realistic rather that overly threat focused. Once you've changed it think about what the new risk level means for you. Does it change or alter your motivation to try something?