6 Ways to Combat Your Fears

Mehreen Masud

Fear is fundamentally a physical reaction to any perceived harmful stimulus which elicits an instant response of either fight , flight and freeze. It is the basic instinct we are born with, have you ever noticed an infant response when you jump the baby into the air, that how she get startled on hearing a loud noise coming from outside that you might not be very receptive of but that will make her cry at the top of her lungs. This is what we are naturally installed with a fear emotion from the beginning  of our very existence. However, fear is not always an appalling state of mind, albeit, it also prepares us to take some precautions against perceived imminent danger or threats. For example, in the context of today’s pandemic state, fear of contracting virus is something that makes us do some prescribed safety measures  to stay safe  against this harmful deadly little virus. This type of fear is what you call as, “realistic fear”. Unlikely, there are so many other kinds of  fears reside in ourselves that based on our self made assumptions about certain things or events that has nothing to do with reality. Unfortunately, such types of fears or worries we anticipate them as real threats disproportionately, which sequentially, leave a very huge impact on our general well being. You will be amazed to know that many psychologists have researched on the nature of worries and found almost 98 percent of them are unreal without any explicit threat. Following are the most salient fears among them:

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Fear of people
  3. Fear of losing money
  4. Fear of losing loved ones
  5. Fear of death
  6. Fear of dogs and other animals or insects

And the list never stops. Apart from disordered fears like Phobia, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders where you ought to undergo  psychotherapy to address them, these worries  are quite implicit in nature and we often baffled by  how they make our dreams and aspiration to take a back seat and control the  wheel of our life, that is truly pathetic.

But there are some ways to overcome your fears, and for that I am going to walk you through some tangible steps that can be really helpful to combat your fears:

Breathing

Usually, when we are confronted with a perceived dangerous situation what happens is, that a part in our brain called amygdala,  which is located inside the temporal lobe of our brain, got stirred up and realize the fear  response that triggers immediate reaction of fight, flight or freeze. If you notice during that process, our rational side of brain,  which is, in fact, pre-frontal cortex area  of our  brain where high order functioning ( like decision making, planning, organizing, and rational thinking) takes place, shuts down. One way to activate our wise brain is deep breathing. Yes, this is an immediate self help tool in your tool kit for fear that really useful in activating your rational side of brain and bringing down levels of  adrenaline rush in your bloodstream. It will not only help you feel grounded, rather take you more toward the present moment. Meditation and yoga are the best examples to work through your feared emotion, and it guides you loosen your guards by stretching and contracting your body muscles to reach the stage of calmness, eventually, triggering your higher brain to take the front seat.

Come out of your comfort zone

We often hear that “your comfort zone kills you” and it really is in its present context. People often have capabilities and aptitude to accomplish their goals, dreams and aspiration but they are not very much in to take risk for it . They do not want to come out of their comfort zone to try their skills. One of the possible reasons might be around a belief they uphold about themselves that, they might not able to make it or have fear of failure. Frankly speaking, coming out of one’s comfort level is not easy at all. I know it very well as I myself came out of my comfort zone many times and  it was, no doubt, a  difficult task  but reward was unimaginable in a way that, you develop courage and confidence to get you going. I remember during my master’s practicum, I had gotten an opportunity to run a support group of  young men out of addiction who was living in a sober home, as a facilitator.  It was my first experience with such group and was quite intimidating due to my perception around them. Cut the long story short, I made it through, and surprisingly, it was a good experience and It changed my perception and made me learn a lot of valuable skills to deal people with addiction. Had it been possible if I were not come out my comfort zone? Obviously not!

Make a fear ladder

So next here, what you really can do is to write your fears down and pick the most daunting one you want to begin with.  Making your fear ladder means divide your particular fear into successive steps or segments that you can work on to  each step at the time. Make sure to reward yourself after each successful completed step. For example, if someone have a fear of going to gym, let’s say,  he/she can make a ladder in a form of stages that would be  like  preparing gym bag, or register for gym membership, etc…

Shame attacking

It sounds a little bizarre but I personally like this technique and it works well particularly when you have fear of being criticized or judged by others. What it means that try something that you don’t normally do in that scenario. For example, one way of doing such thing is not to extra clean your house upon hearing someone’s arrival at your home and  just be yourself the way you usually keep your house in other days. Or, wear a shirt or pant upside down and go outside for grocery. I know, It looks weird but at least, can minimize your belief around what people would think of you and honestly people usually don’t notice it. It’s all our thoughts who make a big deal out of it.

Change your beliefs

Now this is the hardest part to change. Why? Because most of our fears are planted in our childhood period where we had learned to be fearful from certain objects and things in our surroundings that has nothing to do as a threat to us. Like, usually parents make their kids fearful of a monster or a witch who would come and take you away if you don’t fall into sleep. Or you won’t agree more when you too grew up having a fear of a particular room or a place in your house which you believed to be witch enchanted. I remembered I was afraid of dogs, lizards and cockroaches, which I am still most of the part, no offense to them, it is largely due to the way others modelled the same behaviour. Such beliefs feel like a mountain rock but can be altered with conscious efforts. One of the best way is to change your maladaptive thoughts about them and replace them with the most desired ones. Again this is not easy, but here i want to tell you though it s not simple but if you really want to make a change in your life what you really want to yearn, think and behave like the person you want to be, no matter if you don’t really believe at that moment, you will sooner realize how this shifting of emotion can be beneficial in instilling new habits.

Consistency

All above described steps would not be possible without being persistent. Typically, people want quick fix and these procedures take time and effort to cultivate new learning to unlearn the previous ones. So the key to all these techniques is consistency without that it would be hard to change old ways of dealing with fear.

Note: The views, information, or opinions expressed are  those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of the organization.

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