Here’s the thing about haunted houses: only about half of the fright-factor comes from the actual jump scares. The rest of the fear, the adrenaline rush and the excitement that makes your hands shake and your heart races, starts in line before you even get into the room. The anticipation of the scare is almost as powerful as the event itself.
You drag your feet around every corner, clinging to the wall and your companions, and jump at every flicker of light and spooky sound because it’s the fear of the unknown that is the most powerful. In fact, it’s fear of the unknown that make haunted houses fun at all. We all know that no actual harm will come to us in these settings. Indeed, most places that offer more elaborate scares on a larger scale will have medical personnel on sight and easily accessible in case something happens by accident, but it’s the fear of what could happen that engages us at all. We go into these attractions to experience fear in a controlled environment.
Fight, Flight or Freeze
Fear is a healthy response to a chainsaw-wielding madman jumping out of a barn at you, regardless of the fact you know intellectually that he’s not actually going to cut you up. It’s a leftover instinct from the days where lions jumping out at you, or mammoths charging after you, posed a real threat. The fight, flight or freeze response is an instinctual reaction that humans have when confronted with a threat.
“Humans evolved to have a fight, flight, or freeze response to alert us to danger. It helps us to act in these stressful situations. The physical response can vary — you might escape the situation, act impulsively, or freeze up.” [x]
While this fear response is perfectly normal, it can begin to hinder us in situations that are not actually life or death. Our brains can have a hard time differentiating actual life-threatening conditions (charging lion or chainsaw-wielding murderer) from other points of stress. Having a fight, flight, or freeze response to a change in work procedures or an impending deadline can hinder your ability to function in a dynamic office space.
It’s important to make sure that you are not making decisions coming from a place of fear. Lashing out against suggested change, avoiding situations that intimidate you, or freezing up in the face of an impending deadline can all cost you. Not only can it affect your productivity, but a fear-based response can prevent your entire team from getting ahead of the curve in a new area, or from embracing a new strategy that could prove useful in the long run.
Push Through the Fear
The reality is, the way we approach these perceived threats shouldn’t differ that greatly from how we get through a haunted house. Hold onto the people close to you, and keep going forward, because the fear of the unknown is worse than what’s actually waiting for you around the corner.