Is there something you’re afraid of? Do you know what causes you fear?
Fear is what we feel when we perceive something or someone to be dangerous or/and potentially hurtful. We usually fear what we can’t control or don’t have power over, but fear itself can be controlling. It can limit our self-confidence, our capacity to achieve, and our ability to function normally.
Fears are usually born out of a bad experience. For example, a child who burns their hand on a stove may fear stoves for some time and keep their distance from them. Even when we’re older we react in basically the same way, but our fears become more complex.
Some things people fear include: the unknown, the past/future, rejection/abandonment, being bad/defective/worthless, conflict, making mistakes, change, defeat, being alone, facing complicated emotions such as grief, making wrong decisions, pain, looking stupid, succeeding, loss, intimacy, being vulnerable, being controlled/manipulated, having no purpose, taking responsibility, accepting help and many more.
It is important to be able to identify your fears and/or why you are acting, feeling or responding to something in a certain way. Without doing this, the fear can grow to seriously restrict your ability to enjoy life and relationships. The process to overcoming it may look something like this:
1) You realise you’re feeling fearful about a certain situation.
2) You reflect and realise it’s not just the situation you’re afraid of, but something about it that is connecting to a painful memory.
3) You identify what that memory is, and work through the pain it evokes
4) You re-consider the current situation and re-evaluate whether or not the fear is still warranted (i.e. if the past, painful situation may re-occur or not).
5) You take steps to confront the fear and/or work through the situation.
The fear of something is usually worse then thing itself. Sometimes we let ourselves get worked up about something instead of finding a rational and healthy way to work through it. Some things you can do to help include:
1) Identify whether the fear is realistic or not and don't worry about something if the chances of it actually happening are low.
2) Monitor your self-talk – what you say to yourself in a fearful situation can hold you back or get you through!
3) Don’t think about it too much. We analyse things because we think that will help us gain control over it, when in reality it just increases our fear and stress.
4) Remember that everything passes. You won’t always be in the same situation you’re in now. No matter how difficult it may be, it will be worth sticking it out and there will always be a least one positive that comes from the experience.
5) Keep track of your victories. Celebrate or at least note every time you overcome a fear, no matter how small!
6) Do it afraid! Don’t ever wait until you don’t feel fear before you try something – sometimes the only way to conquer fear is to face it head on. This may mean taking a risk; it may mean making yourself vulnerable. But the sense of success, relief and freedom you will feel from trying makes it worth it!
Everyone experiences fear on some level and it came be one of the most debilitating feelings. What can be even more frustrating is the fact that fears can frequently resurface. However, the more you are able to identify and work through your fears, the easier it will become. Soon, you will find that the fear of certain things no longer has power in your life, that you are able to achieve your dreams, and enjoy life to the full.