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How to Overcome Irrational Fears

Updated on April 21, 2017
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Everyone is scared of something. Having a few healthy fears is the minds’ natural way of keeping you safe from danger, both physically and emotionally. The signals the brain sends to the body to be wary of certain things can save your life. In fact, most of the common fears have perfectly rational explanations behind them.

Some of the most common fears are:

  • Flying
  • Public Speaking
  • Heights
  • Darkness
  • Death
  • Spiders


Then there are the most common emotional fears, like:

  • Fear of Commitment
  • Fear of Intimacy
  • Fear of Failure

Each has a certain reasoning behind the fear that makes sense. Human beings naturally don’t want to get hurt and fear protects from these potential wounds, whether physical or emotional. Unfortunately, many people suffer from irrational fear. This is when fear goes beyond being uncomfortable or scared and actually paralyzes you. If your fear overwhelms you and keeps you from doing or achieving things, then it might be irrational. If your fear causes you to react in a way that is above and beyond the actual risk that you’re facing, then it might be irrational.

There are other names for this type of fear. Some call it phobias. Some call it anxiety. But, no matter what the name is, it stems from having a very real fear that, upon observation, is irrational. If these irrational fears begin to take over your life they will begin affecting your relationships and abilities to function every day.

Some of these fears disguise themselves as being the ‘logical’ way to do things. Many people are guilty of this type of fear. It often shows up in relationships. If a person is looking for a partner or friend, but refuses to open up to anyone, due to a subconscious fear of intimacy, this can be blamed on logical. The person can’t go on a date because they’re too busy at work. Meeting up with friends keeps getting pushed, and when they do get together, the conversations are shallow and brief.

Thankfully, there are certain steps that can be taken to not only recognize these irrational fears, but to overcome them. This involves work and dedication, as well as looking at what might be some uncomfortable truths, but in the end, you’ll be a better person. And, more importantly, you’ll no longer be controlled by your fears.

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Step 1: Acknowledge You’re Afraid

The problem so many people with these irrational fears have is that they can’t recognize that their fear is actually a fear. This is the first step. If you’ve noticed yourself avoiding certain situations or things with very little reason, then you need to examine that to see if it has a deeper cause. Only when you recognize that your behavior stems from a specific fear can you start the learning and overcoming process.

You might have to go pretty deep to discover what these problems are. For example, if you always find an excuse to not go home for Christmas, it could be due to several fears. You could be afraid of flying or crowds. Or you could be afraid of intimacy or commitment. If you can find the root of your behavior, then you’ll get to what your fear is really about.

Step 2: Acknowledge the Cause

Fears don’t typically happen all of sudden, they usually come from a trauma or horrific experience. Maybe you glossed over the event when it happened, but on closer examination, you might see that it scarred you deeper than you realized.

There was a woman who had an irrational fear of clowns. It may seem silly, but to this woman, it was a daily struggle. Whenever she drove past a McDonalds or even saw a picture of a clown, her heart would speed up and she would begin to hyperventilate. With the help of a counselor, she realized that the source of her fear came from when she was a child. She had snuck out of bed to see what her older siblings were watching. She walked into the room just as the clown from “It” attacked a little boy. That single event changed that woman’s life forever. And she couldn’t begin to move on from the fear until she realized where it came from.

Step 3: Talk About It

At this point, you might have already begun discussing your fears and how to overcome them. If you haven’t, you should find a group or a person who you can talk through your fears with. This won’t only be extremely cathartic for you, but as you begin say out loud what the fear means to you and how it has held you back, you’ll be able to approach it better. The person or group you discuss it with might even be able to give you several ideas on how to cope.

Step 4: Overcome

This may seem a lot easier said than done, but once you know your fear and its roots, it’s time to recognize that it has no control over you. This is your chance to start taking steps towards overcoming it. Push yourself a little further every day, week, or month, whichever is comfortable for you.

As you work on overcoming, constantly remind yourself that you’re in control. Learn breathing methods that can keep you calm. Meditate or take up a form of exercise that will help you stay focused and relaxed. Stress management is key to overcoming your fear.

Step 5: Help Others

Once you’ve learned how to manage your fear, you should take the opportunity to help others who face the same issue. Your story and your journey will inspire someone and may be the thing someone needed to push them towards overcoming their own fears. Plus, reliving the journey you’ve been through and how far you’ve come will be a constant way of encouraging yourself.

Fears have their place in your life. A little bit of fear is a good thing, it keeps you cautious. However, if that fear begins taking over, you’ll find your entire life at a standstill. Thankfully, there are ways you can overcome these fears. By working towards conquering your irrational fears, you’ll be able to live your life free from the confines of doubt, worry, and anxiety.

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    • tomsmithnow profile image

      Tomi Smith 

      17 months ago

      Well written and good points! I like to use a breathing exercise to help me at times.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      18 months ago from The Caribbean

      Very helpful counsel and a great ending! Fear haunts me when I'm about to make a big step. Sometimes I feel the fear before I recognize the step I should take. These are good to remember. Thanks!

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