“The Fear Bubble” is a concept & technique developed by former British Special Forces, Ant Middleton, which he explains fully in his excellent book, aptly named “The Fear Bubble”.
This simple technique can be used to harness fear, by training ourselves to postpone fear to the moment we actually need it.
Fear is simply our mind and body switching on it’s sympathetic nervous system (fight of flight), and releasing stress hormones to prepare the body to fight or run away from danger.
If there is future event which is causing feelings of fear, then, the technique would involve visualising a “fear bubble” in that future space and time just at the moment where the stressor will occur, and ending immediately after.
From the moment the future fear bubble is imagined, there is an acceptance that no fear is needed until stepping into the actual fear bubble at the future event.
Life and Death Combat Example
A life and death example might be pre-deployment to a war zone. A solider would visualise a space and time in the future where they would need or allow the fear to exist. E.g. actual combat. Then they would give themselves permission to not experience fear until that exact moment they step into the fear bubble.
Where possible, fear bubbles should be as short as possible. Breaking a threatening situation down into multiple fear bubbles, and visualising each one “popping” or “bursting” as they are completed can help harness the fear for longer.
So, for example, in a longer combat situation, a fear bubble might be every time a door or home is entered, or every 100m of battle field advanced, and so forth.
Non Battle Applications
This technique isn’t limited to combat situations, it can be used for any future fear in everyday life. E.g. Exams, interviews, dates, media experiences, opening a business, starting a job, mountain climbing, learning to drive, professional competitions such as MMA or Boxing. The list is endless.
An exam example in the book would be:
- Visualise the fear bubbles starting at the exam, and a bubble for each question.
- Agree to feel no fear until you enter the first bubble.
- Enter the 1st fear bubble (question 1), when it’s done, imagine that bubble bursting and pause for a few moments
- Enter the next fear bubble (question 2), and continue like this until completion.
MMA / BOXING Match Application
This might involve
- Visualise the fear bubbles starting the second round 1 begins, and a bubble for each round.
- Agree to feel no fear until you enter a the first bubble.
- Enter the 1st fear bubble (round 1), when it’s done, imagine that bubble bursting and rest remain outside of any fear bubble
- Enter the next fear bubble (round 2), and continue all the way through.
Re-Framing Fear as “Let’s go”
Another component of “the fear bubble” is redefining the feeling of fear as the body saying “let’s go”. As each fear bubble is entered saying to ourselves “let’s go” will help to positively reframe the fear, and trigger the action required.
Re-Entering The Fear Bubble
Sometimes after entering a fear bubble, there might be too much fear to handle, and action isn’t forthcoming. Simple step back outside, re-prepare, and re-enter. It might take a few attempts, but can help control and harness the fear to achieve the objective.
- Visualise the Fear Bubble(s) in the Future (feel no fear until then)
- -> Enter the Fear Bubble saying to self “Let’s Go”
- -> Take Action
- -> Step Out and “Burst” the Fear Bubble.