One of the things we need to overcome, if we want to live a happy life, is fear.
If fear is constantly part of our daily life, it will prevent us from being happy, so we need to do something about it.
Every one of us has experienced fear. According to psychology, fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. Fear can cause us to run away, to hide, or to simply stay where we are, unable to move. According to science, fear is an ability that has permitted human beings to survive not only predators but also natural disasters.
There are many sources of fear and there are also many ways of dealing with it. Knowing what our fears are is the most effective way of how to face our fears.
How many types of fear are there?
According to psychologytoday, there are only five basic fears out of which almost all of our other so-called fears are manufactured. These are:
1 Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it “fear of death.” The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
2 Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
3 Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it’s commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.
4 Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of social connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The “silent treatment,” when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on its target.
5 Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
The fear of failure or fear of ego-death is one of the biggest fears that we may ever face. But then, we should remember that the most successful people are the ones who were able to face their fears. Thus, if you do not try something because you are afraid of failing, then you will never know if you will succeed. So, if you want to be successful, then you should not be afraid to make mistakes. Often, you have to make mistakes before you can achieve success. And when you get there, you will find out that what you feared all along was not as bad as the monster that you created in your mind.
How to Face Your Fears
If you don’t deal with your fears, your fears will take control of you and your mind, body, and spirit. You’ll never reach your dreams. You will always ask “what if.”
Here are few tips on how to face your fears.
Identify Your Fear.
Keep a journal of what makes you scared. Make a list and write what is triggering your fear. Set aside some time to write and reflect about it. Identify how this fear held you back from doing what you wanted to do. Afterward, read what you’ve written. You will gain an insight into what causes your fear. More importantly, when you write down what makes you afraid, fear loses its power over you.
- “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.’
Believing in yourself is fundamental. You need to believe that you can overcome your fear.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”― Henry Ford
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill
- “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
–Louisa May Alcott
Do what Frightens You.
Lean into your fear. You don’t have to force yourself to do the worst thing that you are afraid of, like going to high places, but you can take one small step at a time. Did you know that action builds courage? So, when you take small steps, you are actually expanding and increasing the level of your courage without you consciously knowing it. Later on, once you get to the highest part of the building, you’ll be surprised because you actually conquered your fear.
- “Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
Do not force yourself to face your fears right away. Building courage takes time. In our earlier example of fear of heights, you don’t have to go straight to the rooftop and look down from there. You first go to a level that you think is high enough for you to look down without you feeling nervous. As you approach the window, relax. Take a deep breath. (You might like to read: the importance of proper breathing). Take a break if you feel that you are feeling dizzy. Whether you are trying to overcome your fear of heights, spiders, or cockroaches, or of riding an airplane, do not forget to take a breath of fresh air to relax your mind and body.
- “Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh
Record Your Past Success.
If you keep writing about your fears, you can also keep the records of the times when you were able to face your fears. For instance, you can go back to when you were five years old when you learned to ride a bike all by yourself. Recall what you did and how you were able to ride on your own. Surely, you’ll be more inspired and motivated to face your present challenges.
- “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”
Would you believe it if you were told that your fear is only an illusion?
Fear is just a creation of our mind. Go back when you were a child and when you (or the people around you) made up scary stories and you kept on repeating those stories until you became terrified. As you can see fearful thoughts will only make you more afraid. If you want to change this, then think positive thoughts. Don’t give attention and time to what you fear. Instead, change the fearful stories that you kept telling to yourself and make them funny ones. Laugh at your fears. You’ll feel silly afterward for being afraid of them all your life. Remember: What You Tell Yourself Every Day Will Either Lift You Up Or Tear You Down. To empower your Positive Thinking you can use some Positive Affirmation
Find Support in Family and Friends.
For some people, their fears have taken over their lives in a way that their movements, actions, and behaviors are limited by their fears. Do not let this happen to you. If you doubt yourself and your abilities, seek encouragement from your loved ones. Ask them to remind you of your achievements. This way, you will feel secured and encouraged to do the things that you think you can’t.
Seek Professional Help
If fear interferes with your daily life don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Think how life would be more productive and beautiful if you manage to conquer your fears.
Main professional figures that can help you to overcome your fear:
The most common therapy to overcome phobias and fears is Exposure Therapy. Exposure Therapy has been shown to be the most effective anxiety treatment for people with many anxiety disorders. it involves practicing with what you fear, in order to become less afraid.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. There are some NLP Techniques for dissolving fear, mental blocks, and hesitation.
Hypnosis is the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction. Its use in therapy, typically to recover suppressed memories or to allow modification of behavior such as phobia or fear.
Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT (often known as Tapping or EFT Tapping), is a universal healing tool that can provide impressive results for physical, emotional, and performance issues.
A life coach is someone who aims to help and empower others to make, meet and exceed personal and professional goals.
Overcoming your fears may take time, especially if you’ve been nurturing them since you were younger. If you are really committed to overcoming your fears, then you must start now, don’t wait any longer. Try the tips mentioned above and you’ll definitely feel different afterward. Again, it is a continuous process and not a one-time thing. And as you conquer the things that you are afraid of, share with others what you have learned from this experience. Help others as well in overcoming their fears.