Fear – how to overcome it.
Fear doesn’t stop death, it stops life.
We are born with only two innate fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds – innate meaning a quality or ability which you are born with, or which is present naturally. Both causes a flight, fight or freeze response. It makes us alert to danger and prepares us to deal with it. No human life has ever existed without the experience of fear. It is a normal human experience.
Dr Karl Albrecht described 5 types of common fears that he identified in humans, namely the fear of
- Extinction – for example annihilation, ceasing to exist
- Mutilation – for example body invasion, physical pain, amputation, losing natural function
- Loss of autonomy – for example being restricted, confined, trapped, suffocated.
- Separation, abandonment, rejection – as humans we have a strong need to belong, to connect with people and the world around us
- Humiliation, shame, worthlessness – we have a strong need to mean something to someone, to be loved.
As you get older you learn to fear by association. For example when you experience something that scares you – for example being bitten by a dog, your body will in future react fearful to a dog that barks and appears aggressive. It will cause an immediate flight or fight response in your body in order to protect you. Fear, generally speaking, is regarded as being prompted by a clear and present threat: you sense danger and you feel afraid.
When does fear become a problem?
But there is another type of fear – the one that stops life. This type of fear is a learned fear. It can cripple ideas, crush experiences, stall success and keep you prisoner. The saddest part of this is, is that it is often self-inflicted. The fear is most of the time accompanied by anxiety. Anxiety, on the other hand, is born from less tangible concerns: it can feel like fear but without a clear cause. A person has a premonition of doom or a constant dread of failure. It is the thing that keeps you awake at night, that steals your appetite, that causes the knot in your stomach and robs you of your lust for life.
How to cope with fear?
Face your fear.
Although facing your fear might be the most difficult for you to do – you have to learn more about the fear to conquer it and the only way to do it, is to spend time with it. Marie Curie said nothing in life should be feared, it should be understood. This means the more you know about the thing you fear, the less your fear will become.
Allow yourself to sit with your fear for 2-3 minutes at a time. Practice mindfulness while you sit. Breathe in and out slowly. Just let the emotions flow past – although they are difficult to bear, imagine they are autumn leaves drifting past on a lazy river, or ebb and flow waves of the ocean.
Keep a journal.
Write down the fears in a journal. Write down the emotions that you feel when thinking about the fear. Somehow when you start making lists and write down feelings and thoughts – it helps to make everything much more manageable and helps you feel grounded. It organizes the jumble of tasks that are swarming around in your brain into a useful system they dampen anxiety about the chaos of life. Journals and lists give us a structure, a plan that we can stick to; and they are proof of what we have achieved that day, week or month.
Write down the worst realistic case scenario about your fear that you can think off. This will help you get rid of fuzziness around the fear by giving it clarity. It will help you realize that even in the worst case scenario – you will be able to survive and bounce back.
If you share your fear with a family member or friend, they might give you a new perspective on the problem that might help you realize you made something much greater of it than it really is. Brooding on fear alone allows it to grow into a monster in your mind. Never be afraid to ask for help from a level-headed friend or counselor.
Don’t focus on aspects that keep you stuck. Try to move from being problem focused to being solution focused. For that you might need the input from another person.
Use your imagination constructively.
An imagination is a wonderful thing. It gives you power, creativity, and the ability to think outside the box.
Often we have irrational fears that keep us awake at night – for example – you have a fear of going alone to an airport to catch a plane.
Instead of allowing your imagination to run riot, control what you think and imagine a scenario where you practice in your mind how you will catch a cab to the airport, how to will walk up to the information desk and ask for help to find the check-in, how you will ask the ground crew where you have to go to board the plane, etc. You can replay any scenario in your brain over and over until the anxiety and fears subsides. If you can bring in humor in the situation, joking with yourself, it will relieve even more tension.
Get some exercise
Few things relieves anxiety as effectively as exercise – and it can be something as simple as going for a brisk walk. It gives you chance to think about nothing, except for the next step you are taking. It gives you time to re-connect with nature. It has a calming effect on us and it helps to ground us.
Another word for grounding is ”earthing”. Connect with all your senses while you are out there – what do you see around you, what sounds do you hear, what smells do you smell and how does the air feel to your skin?
Be kind to yourself
Life is tough enough and you do not have to beat yourself up too. Rather consider to make a list of things that you do do well. List the good attributes and talents that you have; list the difficult situations that you have coped with. Give yourself credit for that. Respect your own courage to find a way through fear. Tell yourself that fear doesn’t know your strength.
Give yourself time to rest. Allow yourself to do something everyday that you love and enjoy. Eat healthy. Rest enough.
”Hope”- powerful word that inspires millions of people
”Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” Hope is the belief that things will work. Hope believes you will get through whatever you fear. Hope teams with faith and believes the impossible. Hope helps people to stay alive long enough to figure out a way to thrive.
Isaiah 43: 1 says ”Don’fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.
God actually commands us not to fear, or worry. The phrase ”do not fear” is actually used more than 80 times in the Bible, most likely because He knows the enemy uses fear to decrease our hope and limit our victories.
Faith and fear both demand you believe in something you cannot see – you choose.
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