Strategies and Possibilities How To Overcome Fear
Fear is an emotion which springs up as a reaction to danger or threat. This reaction is supposed to prepare one for fighting, running away or freezing (play possum) in front of threat. It manifests itself by certain symptoms.
Among symptoms of fear we can include following:
- Increasing muscle tension
- Increasing heart rate
- Increasing sweeting
- Hyperventilation (increasing breathing rate)
Fear can be justifiable (there is actually a threat – a situation, a person that endangers our lives) or groundless (the cause of our fear is not life-threatening – a lot of phobias are like that). The form of groundless fear can be anxiety – one can’t tell what he/she is afraid of. We can also distinguish inborn fear (of darkness, storm, and animals) from acquired fear (of losing job, of heights, of aging, of failure).
Nowadays, people are afraid of so many things. We fear death, future, and unknown and there are also phobias – pathological fears of something (enclosed spaces, heights, spiders, clowns or ghosts – there is more of them and they are also very common nowadays).
It is really difficult to overcome a phobia and sometimes it’s not even possible. But there are strategies which help to overcome fear. Let’s present some of them.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of several possibilities how to deal with fear. This therapy is provided by cognitive therapist and program consists of face-to-face meetings and fulfilling “homework” exercises. Cognitive behavioral therapy proved efficiency at people with anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders or mood changes.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also focused on people who are unable to overcome their fears with their own powers. But this therapy is not suitable for everyone.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a therapy focused primarily on solving problems. It’s the therapy which is implemented by fulfilling tasks. At people with anxiety disorders, or simply at people who fear some object or situation, the therapy is implemented by confronting these fears. People with assistance of therapist or as homework exercise are supposed to expose themselves to a situation they fear or to a feared object.
- A student who fears speaking in front of people is given homework to participate in a project which includes public speaking, or is supposed to have a presentation etc.
- A woman who fears spiders is exposed first to pictures of spider and lately to living spiders.
Strategies for Overcoming Fear
There is a lot of strategies which can help to overcome fear. Not every of them is suitable for everyone and all of you must figure out which is the one for you. Some of them may seem natural to you and you probably realize that you used this strategy to overcome fear subconsciously. Let’s present some of them.
This is an essential point. You must confess to yourself that there is something you fear. You don’t need to tell the world about your fears. Just confessing it to you yourself is enough.
If you don’t confess your fears, you won’t be able to fight against them. You won’t be able to do anything about them. Denying your fears is the same as pretending that they don’t exist. If something doesn’t exist there can’t be done anything about it.
If you accept your fears you can move on. You can think about your fear, you can ask yourself questions which can help you to do something about your fear:
- What do I fear?
- What specifically scares me? (If it’s about public speaking – Is it fear of forgetting my speech, of looking silly in front of other people, of not being able to speak, etc.)
- What can I do to overcome my fear? What possibilities do I have? (To improve my communication, to visit courses, etc.)
- Is there anyone who can help me? (Family, friends, colleagues, etc.)
To live in present
Another important point is living in present. It is related to not creating catastrophic scenarios in your head (a point I’m going to mention later). Living in present, not worrying to much about future will help stabilize your position in reality. Fear doesn’t exist in future – it’s present and as Rubeus Hagrid said: “What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does” (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). It’s no good worrying too much. Worrying doesn’t change anything.
There is also a book focused on living in present: Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now, which you can read and find inspiration in.
Don’t think negative
This point includes not creating catastrophic scenarios. A lot of people fear too much – ‘What if I lose my job – I won’t be able to pay my debts’, ‘What if my husband/wife leaves me’, ‘What if that snake bites me – I will die’. Most of those scenarios will never happen or at least they won’t happen in a way you imagined. Of course you can lose your job, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find another right away or that things won’t work out another way.
Fear is often about imaginations. What could be if…. Negative thinking influences our life and spoils our mind. If you change the way you think, you can at least erase overthinking your fears.
There are things that can help you to stop thinking negative and start to think in a positive way:
- Write down your successes – Things you were able to accomplish, everything you succeeded in – if you ever feel down or scared you can go back to your list or diary of successes and you shall see that there are things you were (and are) able to do.
- Write down your fears and what needs to be done to overcome them – If you go forth step by step, you’ll be able to overcome your fear in the end and you’ll see a progress.
- Let yourself be inspired by others – There is ton of motivational videos, articles, books, etc. Reading about people who were able to overcome their fear will help you to believe in your own powers to be able to do it as well.
There are a lot of books about positive thinking you can read. For example: John J. Murphy: Half-full, BJ Gallagher and Mac Anderson: Learning to Dance in the Rain, etc.
Strategies for Overcoming Fear
Which strategy does work the best for you?
There are more strategies which can help you to overcome fear or at least not to fear so much. Let’s speak about some of them.
Talking about fears
Talking about fears with someone is really important. It can be a family relative or a friend but it should be someone you trust who will not make fun of you. Talking about your fears can really help you – you can organize your thoughts better this way and other person can provide you with an advice. That’s why there are psychologists and therapists as well. Talking about problems really helps.
If you can’t talk about your fears (you are ashamed or you don’t have anyone to talk to) write about it. It’s not the same as talking, but it can also help you.
Meditation and relaxing techniques
Meditation is also a way for overcoming fear. It calms mind down. It can help you to see your fears from distance. There is a German author Rossbach Gabriele who wrote a book about meditation which can help to find self-confidence and peace in a daily life.
You can also try to use other techniques for overcoming fear. There are for example: affirmations (when you say a positive and stimulating sentences to yourself), imagining the worst case scenario (if you know the worst thing which could happen, you can get ready for it), visualization of fearsome situation (you can overcome your fear in your mind), etc.
Things to Remember
Remember that everyone is an individual. Don’t compare yourself to other people. They aren't you and their life is different from yours. If there are people around you who fear too much or who tell you that you can’t overcome your fear, don’t let them drag you down. Also don’t get upset just because you won’t get rid of yours fears in one day. Little steps in time are good enough as well.
And keep trying. It doesn’t matter whether you overcome fear on a first try or on a tenth or you won’t be able to get past it at all. It’s important at least to give it a try so you won’t regret doing anything in future.