Experiences in our past often create fear. It could be a traumatic event or, sometimes seen through the lens of childhood or in an unusual context, vivid memory or association can be created. These encounters, whether long ago or more recent, can go on to impact our everyday lives as an adult.
Phobias come in all sorts of forms but have the same result of panic and anxiety. When fear stops us from doing what we want to do, it can leave us feeling helpless and frustrated. Instead of avoiding situations, what if there was a way to address the fear and move past it? Here are the five ways to overcome your fears.
Identify Your Fear
It is necessary to know more about the triggers for a phobia. Hopefully, it is easy to identify and say ‘I am scared of heights.’ However, the next step is to explore what that means. When the triggers for the phobia are distinguished, it clarifies the process that is taking place in the mind.
Understanding more about the stimulus may also help to define the initial event that created the phobia. If we take the example of being afraid of heights, more specifically, this could be triggered by going near an edge with no barrier from a particular height above ground.
Separating this from, say, not being able to use elevators in tall buildings or visiting the top floors of skyscrapers is an important distinction. When taking the next steps, it may enable someone to do more than they thought possible.
Finding out more about where fear comes from, enables someone facing their fears to take action in a more specific or targeted way. This action can take many forms, but the first would be to address any incidents that have contributed to the trauma and anxiety.
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Once the initial incident is addressed, it equips those in fear with the knowledge that there is something that can be done. This knowledge can be the stepping stone to taking further action to face fears.
For those facing fears that impact their lives severely, they may want to embark on gradual exposure to the thing they fear. It can be done slowly, with support, and in a safe space, in order to overcome it.
Fears are sometimes a natural result of protection and life preservation. In many circumstances, however, fears can develop into an overprotective state or be based on a lack of information. Events in life may prompt someone to overcome their fear.
For example, if a loved one has moved far away, and the only way to visit is by plane, then the fear of flying might need to be addressed. Having a better understanding of how things work, in this case, airplanes can be incredibly beneficial to facing fear.
Alongside this could be the advantage of preparation. When someone is brave enough to book the flight, having coping strategies and some advance knowledge of what to expect can create the right circumstances to overcome fear.
There are times when exploring and attempting to address a phobia alone is daunting or too difficult. This can be because understanding is required, either on a psychological level or just a human need to share our feelings. By acknowledging the fear, it is possible to take the first step towards facing it.
Friends and family can offer support with a phobia; however, there will likely be times when someone with training and an objective viewpoint can help further. Many therapists support or specialize in tackling phobias and can help those struggling, to make positive strides in this area.
When dealing with a specific fear and explaining it to others, it is common to feel that it is a trivial issue that should be easily surmounted. This negative attitude can add shame to fear and make it more challenging to tackle. When they accept that it is not a weakness but something to process, it is a crucial step.
Negative thoughts are fuel to fear. When someone believes that bad things will happen or that they aren’t capable, it can come down to a lack of self-trust rather than being an accurate picture of the situation. Once negative thinking is set aside, the task becomes much more manageable.
While all of these approaches together can make a difference, different combinations may suit different people with a diverse range of fears. That being said, having the right mindset and the necessary support will make overcoming a fear something that can be achieved.
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