Hallowe’en, horror films, scare events, Day of the Dead, gigantic roller coasters… there’s a reason we’re transfixed by fear.
In terms of evolution, it makes sense to keep things we’re scared of right in front of us, where we can keep an eye on them.
Perhaps that’s why we have an innate fascination with scary experiences. And that’s great while fear stays in its place – but when it bursts out and affects our lives, we may need some tips on cutting it down to size.
Fear is an illusion
As Lao Tzu said:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Dr Camen Harra, writing in the Huffington Post agrees that fear is an illusion.
“We… bring fear to life, many times without need. I’ve seen plenty of clients who were so afraid of losing their marriage that they couldn’t see there was nothing wrong with it to begin with”.
“But they needed to validate their irrational fears and did so by exaggerating already-existing issues in their relationship. In their case, their fears ignited needless doubts, false conclusions and empty arguments with their partner. They began to cause external problems driven by internal fears. Then, their marriage really did begin to display the issues they had feared all along.”
What is fear for?
Fear, of course, keeps our wildest impulses in order. It stops us stepping off tall buildings and walking into the middle of busy roads.
As a basic safety mechanism, fear is one of our most innate instincts. Modern life, though, blurs the boundaries between healthy wariness and unnecessary knee-jerk reactions that come from our inner chimp.
That can leave us in a constant state of fight or flight, eventually leading to chronic anxiety.
When fear gets in the way
Fear can also make us freeze, holding us back and stopping us from achieving our goals, while our rational brain battles with those fear feelings.
There are various ways of dealing with fear, depending on how it affects you and your own preferences.
Here are a few suggestions:
Face your fear
Working out that you’re afraid – and what you’re afraid of – can hold the key to beating the fear. Challenge those feelings, face them head on and ask yourself if your fears are real or imagined.
Try asking yourself what’s the worst that can happen. It might be worth chatting this through with a friend. Sometimes we place irrational beliefs around a situation and saying them out loud – or writing them down – can cut them down to size.
2. Embrace change
Change in itself can scare people because it takes you out of your comfort zone. But change is sometimes necessary – if it’s moving you towards your ultimate goal.
Chunk your goals down into easy, achievable steps and they’ll feel much less daunting. All you have to do is tackle them one at a time.
3. Remember to relax
Constant stress and pressure can lead to long term fear. Slow down, relax and take time out of your busy schedule for calming activities such as mindfulness or yoga. Not only will you feel calmer, you’ll be more effective too.
If you’re literally shaking with fear, take yourself out of the stressful situation, place the palm of your hand on your stomach, focus on your breathing and remember you have a choice of how you react to any situation.
Another technique is to close your eyes and picture yourself in a safe and relaxing place – perhaps laying on a tropical beach, curled up in your own bed or revisiting a happy childhood memory.
4. Believe in you
Much fear comes from low self-esteem. Work on your self-worth and you’ll feel the fear melt away. Nobody is perfect – stop trying to be. Real life is messy and full of changes.
Remember: whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right!
If you need any help and want to explore working together then just let me know.
Wishing you calmness