Sometimes there are moments in our lives where we experience something so frightening that we are at a complete loss of words. We feel like we have lost all control of our senses, feelings, and thoughts during the moment. And because there are so many different aspects of fear, it makes it hard topic to tackle.
How can one compare being scared of a real object such as a spider to a something that’s not even in our world such as a ghost? How can one person fear success while another person fear something as friendly as water? I’ve been scared of many things in my life, but I’ve learned to understand it over the years. Fear cannot be entirely removed, but there are ways to a lot more tolerable.
What is fear?
To understand how to cope with fear, we need to understand what it is first. Fear is an emotional response. That’s all it is. When we feel like potential danger may happen, our brain sends signals down to our body and makes us feel a certain way. We label this feeling as fear.
Anything we have experienced that put us in threat or in danger causes us to fear similar things in the future. A person who has almost drowned in water when they were young will be afraid to go near swimming pools later. Likewise, anything we think of in the future that puts us in danger causes us to feel the effects of it in the present moment. A person who thinks they will do horrible at a job interview will start panicking before they even begin writing their resume.
Fear is part of human nature. For early human beings, fear was absolutely necessary trait for survival. It was an emotion that warned them that now was the time to escape or avoid a dangerous situation. Through human evolution, we may have changed physically, but our innate emotion of fear has always been the same and has always remained with us.
Symptoms of Fear
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Wanting to faint
- Hot or cold flashes
- Feeling detached from the body
- Feelings of unreality
A List of Common Human Fears
- Enclosed spaces
- Social rejection
- Public speaking
- Criminal or gang violence
- Terrorist attacks
- Being alone
Besides water and driving, I am afraid to admit that to a certain degree, I am afraid of all these things listed above. There’s no need to be embarrassed as I know I’m just like everybody else in the world. There are probably thousands of other things that cause fear. Again you cannot remove fear completely, but you can to do your best limit fear to a small degree and be under control. Here are some ways to help you out.
Accept the Fear
To conquer fear, the first thing we need to do is not run away from it. The reason for this is because if you keep running away from it, you will always be afraid. Accept that whenever you experience something unknown, you will experience a degree of fear. It’s natural; it’s part of the human body. When fear happens to you, face it. That’s part of accepting it. Face the thoughts that you going through and experience it. If you can handle your imagination, you can handle the real thing.
Rationalize the Fear
By rationalizing the fear, ask yourself why you are feeling the way you are? What is it that is causing your fear? Instead of panicking or losing total control of your rationality, ask yourself if there is anything you can do in the moment to lessen the fear. If you’re afraid of heights, don’t look down to make it worse. If you’re scared of darkness, keep a small light next to you. If you’re scared of a job interview, prepare for it like you’ve never prepared before. Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen to you if end up facing it?
Dismiss the Fear
Dismissing the fear means exactly what it says. Accept that you have those fears and if you don’t like those feelings, simply dismiss them. You don’t have to be obligated to feel scared or afraid. You don’t have to live life under some force you cannot even control. You have choices and you can choose to think or feel about something else. Think of fear as a TV channel. Some people enjoy the thrill of a horror movie, but if that’s not your thing, feel free to change the channel.
Change the channel to action and feel more excited. Change the channel to romance and feel more love. Change the channel to comedy and have a good laugh. It may be hard to suddenly change your thoughts and feelings to something else when you’re already freaked out, but I can tell you that if you continue to focus your thoughts on what you fear, you will continue to be freaked out. So if you don’t want to feel this way, change your thoughts to something more pleasant.
Overcome the Fear
If you’ve gone through the first three steps. The last thing you need to know is that fear is just an emotion. You can overcome it with positive reminders to yourself. Never let something that is in the past come back to haunt you. It’s history. Never let something that hasn’t happened in the future hurt you. It’s not real. Focus on what you can do control during the moment and that is your thoughts.
So the next time fear comes, don’t ask yourself what you can do to run away from it. Ask yourself what you can do to deal with it. None of the twenty-five things I listed above is fear. None of the one thousand other things I didn’t mention is fear either. The truth is there is nothing to really fear except, what Franklin Roosevelt once said, fear itself.