Fear- the natural, human-emotion, which alerts us to the presence of threat or danger, is essential as it prepares an individual for the possible threat, acting as a warning. But sometimes, it can have its origin in the imagined dangers, tainting its necessity.
When fear gets associated with anxiety and irrational trepidation, it takes a toll on our health and daily lives. When we find ourselves avoiding situations similar to the one that had been the root of the fear, dreading it might create more fear, we must not ignore it. Refusing to take notice of it will prevent us from advancing in our career or taking the bigger picture, our lives.
Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can implement to address your fears and reduce the impact it has on you.
- 1 How To Deal With Your Fears
- 1.1 Know your fear and it’s roots:
- 1.2 Practicing mindfulness:
- 1.3 Facing and interacting with fear:
- 1.4 Learn relaxation techniques:
- 1.5 Keep a positive mind-set:
- 1.6 Ask yourself “what if:
- 1.7 Harness the power of your fear:
- 1.8 Reward yourself(self reinforcement):
- 1.9 Talk about it to an expert:
- 1.10 Conclusion:
Also check – Questions to ask yourself
How To Deal With Your Fears
Know your fear and it’s roots:
It is usual to have fears. Entering new situations, trying things for the first time may make us experience a feeling of apprehension. However, when it affects our functioning, it becomes a dilemma. It might interfere with our abilities and cause anxiety and tremendous panic.
Reflect on the fears and how much it impacts when you enter the fear-causing situation. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the fear keeping you from moving forward in your life?
- Do you tend to avoid situations that are similar to the one causing the fear?
- Has it persisted for 6 months or more?
Sometime the origins of fears can begin young and we might not know the roots. Some research suggests that fears can have a biological link and can be inherited from parents. Environmental factors during childhood and the developing years is an important factor as well because children learn through associations and the way adults interact and give meaning to those interactions. Adults considering things as “fearful” regardless of an actual posed risk, may lead to children believing those things as potential harmful.
Learning about your fear gives you a sense of control as it provides you an idea of how to counter it.
It is the practice of willfully bringing one’s attention to the present, making oneself aware of what they are and what they are doing. It allows us to become more aware of our fears.
Exercise these tips when you feel your fear symptoms arising.
- Seat down and try to focus on what is happening to you, as if your are taking a mental journey.
- Notice the anxious thought that arises, observe the symptoms. Don’t do anything about it.
- Keep track of it, and let it go.
This increases our self awareness and stabilizes us enough to face the situation, midst of our fears and helps us see more clearly.
Facing and interacting with fear:
Acknowledging the fear is important as most of the time we deny it to ourselves, fearing to face the fear.
Sometimes its difficult to name those lurking anxious thoughts at the back of our mind. So naming the fear becomes the first step of facing our fear. Now we know exactly what we are facing.
The next step is not to judge the fear with a label of “good” or “bad”.
Accept it as it is.
While facing the fear, we also come to see that many of the fears are based on false beliefs. Identifying these patterns of thinking and questioning them helps us to perceive the situation from a different way.
Learn relaxation techniques:
These techniques help us to override the triggers caused by our fear by counteracting with them. They help us to cope with anxiety and other related side effects caused by the fear.
Deep breathing exercises-this help us to focus our breath and makes it easier to take over a certain situation, more confidently. Start this technique with a deep inhale of four seconds followed by holding it for three seconds and ending the cycle with a four seconds exhale. Repeat this cycle for at least five times.
- Body and breath focus- this is a blend of breath focus followed by progressive body muscle relaxation. This helps to boost awareness about your mind-body connection.
- Guided imagery-in this technique, a relaxing, soothing scene, place or experience is conjured in the mind to help you focus and relax.
This can be quite hard for people who find it difficult to conjure up mental images.
- Yoga- the physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help us get rid of the anxious, lurking thoughts behind the back of our heads.
Prayer and breath focus-a short prayer or a phrase from a payer, followed by practicing breath focus. Kundalini yoga: a combination of pranayama or breathing techniques with chanting of mantras has been found to be very effective. 5. Gradual exposure to fear
This is a technique introduced by Wolpe. Exposing yourself to the fears gradually, staring with the least anxiety-provoking stimuli and gradually increasing the intensity of the stimuli. This is followed by relaxation techniques. If at any moment while increasing the intensity of the stimulus, the fearful situation causes slightest tension, stop thinking of it and follow the relaxation technique. Over a period of time, the fear is gradually sensitized.
Keep a positive mind-set:
Keeping a positive mind-set and attitude is an effective antidote to fear. Make time from your schedule, daily, for gratitude and mindfulness.
Write down your goals, visualize success and practice the art of positive affirmation which can be done by the practice of positive self-talk.
A few ways to do that are by telling it to yourself that-
- I am aware of my fears and I accept them.
- I am capable and I have courage.
- I appreciate and welcome change.
- I am capable of making good decisions.
- I’m proud of myself for…
While practicing positive self talk, use present tense. Repeat these sentences to yourself several times a day. This technique is found to be really effective.
Ask yourself “what if:
Planning how to handle certain things in advance can lessen the fear of unknown.
- What if the worst-case scenario comes true?
- Now that you have the picture of the worst-case scenario, ask yourself what are the things you could do to manage the situation?
- Now imagine the best-case scenario. Ask yourself how will you feel and what will life be like if things turn out as you hope.
This strategy helps us to boost confidence and inspires us to face the fearful situation.
Harness the power of your fear:
While other signals within our bodies take about half a second to reach awareness, the fear system acts much more speedily. Its so fast that it even deadens our awareness of pain. So, understanding the positives of fear can help us use it to our advantage.
Before a big public performance, one may experience stage-fright.
Yet, this fear can be used to bring our full focus to what is before us and help us to be in the moment.
Thus acknowledging the fear and directing it to where it will be the most beneficial can help us to channelize the anxiety-provoking part of fear to the advantageous side of it.
Reward yourself(self reinforcement):
Give yourself a treat, after you have made it to the opposite site of the fearful situation. Be it being able to make the call that you had been dreading or the presentation before your clients that had been making you all worked up. For example, reward your success by treating yourself with something that you had been thinking of doing or buying yourself for a long time, a book, a meal or the thing that makes you happy.
This will help you to look forward to facing the fearful situation, positively.
Talk about it to an expert:
Sharing and talking it out to a professionally trained therapist can be really effective. Rather than just dealing with it, it can provide you with an effective cure.
Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach are some of the effective therapies to get over fear and irrational panic caused by fear. These appointment based services can be done over the telephone or by visiting to the therapist.
Fear-facing treatment may include:
- Acceptance and commitment therapy(ACT)
- Exposure therapy(Immersion therapy)
- Psychoanalytic theory
Therapy can help you to discover whether your fear is caused by an underlying mental health issue or allow you to address and work through what is causing the fear.
The most effective way to conquer a fear is to face it, but its important and necessary to do so in a healthy manner that helps you to move past the fear rather than doing it in a way that traumatizes you. If you are having difficulties in dealing your fears on your own, seek help of a mental health professional who can assist you and guide you gradually through the situations that give rise to your fear, making sure to first work on the thought patterns that cause your fears to stick to you.