How to Face Things that Really Scare You

We all have our fears. Some of our fears are rational, based on actual dangers, and others, not so much. Fear is a primal emotional reaction based on the instinct to survive. It instructs us to steer clear of danger. As powerful an impulse as it is, however, fear can be conquered.

Some fears are well founded. If you are afraid of walking alone through a notoriously dangerous area of the city at night, your fear is likely a legitimate warning signal that you should not do this. If the thing you are afraid of is genuinely unsafe, or may cause harm to you or someone else, it is your brain’s way of warning you – and you should likely heed the fear.

However, if your fears are irrational, they may be preventing you from living your life to its full potential. It is imperative to get these fears under control so that you can face challenges without anxiety and sweaty palms standing in your way.

Conquering fear is an exercise of mind over matter – the power lies within you to decide to overcome what scares you.

Life coach Nick Sparks outlines one way to start overcoming a given fear; take an honest assessment of the potential dangers involved. Writing down your assessment can be very beneficial, as it lets you go over what you have read later and analyze it. Begin by being honest with yourself about exactly what it is you are afraid of.

You may wish to add reasons why you think you are afraid, along with the actual risks involved with performing the feared activity. For example, if you are afraid of flying, looking up statistics of how many flights arrive safely, versus ones that do not, and what goes wrong with the ones that have trouble and how airlines take precautions against this, may help. Seeing it all laid out on paper can help you be more objective as to whether or not your fear is rationally based.

For another example, if you are afraid of spiders, it may help to learn all about them, and research different species, where they live in the world, which ones are poisonous and which are harmless, and what to do in the case of a bite from a poisonous spider. If you are able to recognize which spiders are not poisonous, it may help you be more comfortable with being around them.

According to Stanford University neuroscientist Philippe Goldin, “exposure is hands down the most successful way to deal with phobias, anxiety disorders, and everyday fears of any sort.” You can start small, and take steps you are comfortable with towards exposing yourself to what you are afraid of, such as spending time in an airport observing departures and arrivals, and then taking a short flight when you feel ready, if you are afraid of flying.

Another way to feel more comfortable while facing your fears is to enlist a friend to help you. Author Pheng Taing says, “the best advice on how to do things that scare you is to do it with someone who has already done it. This way you can get your feet wet, see that it’s not scary and know that you have someone there for support. Once you start and keep spiderdoing it, you won’t be afraid of it anymore.”

Famous writer Ernest Hemingway wrote, “courage is grace under pressure.” Facing a deep-seated fear is never easy, but the sense of freedom and accomplishment that overcoming it can bring is well worth the effort.

-The Alternative Daily


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