How to overcome fear

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Everyone knows the story of Batman, a fictional hero who fights for justice and integrity. Why did he become Batman? 

He wanted to face his fear of bats by turning this intense fear into an incredible source of strength. 

Even the most courageous people have to overcome their fears. Are you afraid of something tangible like spiders and height? 

You may be afraid of failure, change, or something that you find difficult to identify. Whatever you are scared of, you must learn to recognize it, to face it and to overcome that fear so that nothing can hold you back.

Understanding fear

Know how to recognize moments when fear becomes overwhelming

It is normal to be afraid. You may be scared when cycling for the first time or when starting a new job. However, when fear begins to take control of your life and affects the way you function, it becomes a problem. 

If you begin to feel that your fear becomes insurmountable, the distress instilled by fear can interfere with your ability to function normally and you may experience intense anxiety or nervousness

Think about your fears and how to recognize how they affect your life. Do your fears prevent you from going forward and doing what you want to do in life? Here are some details you should consider.

  • Your fear causes intense anxiety or panic.
  • You realize that your fear is not rational.
  • You avoid certain places and certain situations.
  • This fear lasts more than 6 months.

Understand the symptoms of fear

Fear often manifests as phobias that can include situations (fear of public speaking or raising a hand in the classroom), animals (fear of snakes or spiders), blood, injections, etc. When you feel fear, physiological, mental, and emotional reactions occur, including the following:

  • an acceleration of the heart rate
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness
  • excessive sweating
  • anxiety and panic that overwhelms you
  • the need to escape
  • a sense of detachment
  • the feeling of fainting or dying
  • a feeling of helplessness in the face of this fear, even if you know that it is not rational

Think about the traumatic events you might have gone through

If you have been in a car accident, you may be afraid to drive a car or you may even avoid it altogether. 

You may have been attacked on your way home and the thought of coming home scares you. 

There are many factors that can lead to fear and it is natural to avoid situations that have hurt you in the past.

  • Although fear can be a natural response to certain situations, certain events cannot be avoided. Know how to recognize that your fear is valid, but that you must treat it.

Know that your fear can be rooted in your youth

You might have an intense fear of snakes without knowing why. Some studies suggest that fears can be transmitted from parents to their children through a biological link. 

Other studies suggest that children can decode information related to their environment and develop fears based on what they think is a threat. 

By watching adults interact with an object or situation, the child learns to create associations that indicate that he or she must be afraid or be wary of potential risk.

Know that it is normal to be afraid

Fear is an adaptive function that allows us to live longer. If you walk along the edge of a cliff, you will be afraid. It is an adaptive function that tells you that this situation could be dangerous and cost your life. 

Fear triggers a behavior that causes you to fight against it or to flee, which prepares your body to act in order to protect itself.

  • Know that fear can be a good thing and know how to recognize the positive and protective role that it plays.

Interact with his fear

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Know exactly how to recognize your fears

It’s easy to ignore or deny your fears, even to yourself. It is not possible to speak of courage until you have to face one of your fears. 

Taking responsibility for your emotions, you take the first step to take control of the situation.

  • Give a name to your fears. Sometimes fear becomes known immediately, clearly, but at other times, it is more difficult to name those feelings of anxiety that are hidden in the back of your mind. Let your fear rise to the surface and give it a name. This fear can be concrete (fear of cats) or situational (fear of being questioned in class).
  • Do not judge your fears. Know how to recognize them without judging them good or bad.

Understand what are the triggers

Is it something obvious, for example, the sight of a snake on the way? Maybe the idea of getting through the headmaster’s door makes you panic while you walk in the lobby. 

Understand what are the elements that trigger your fear. The more you understand your fear, the more it will help you.

Challenge the power of these fears on you

Is your fear cause you to stay in bed instead of going out and participating in a class you are afraid of failing? Do you avoid visiting your family abroad because you are afraid to fly?

Understand exactly the power of your fear on your mind and your behavior.

Imagine the result you would like to achieve

Now that you understand your fear better, think about what exactly you want to change. Imagine yourself in a life where you do not have that fear. What would you feel? Here are some examples.

  • If you are afraid to engage, imagine living happily with your partner.
  • If you are dizzy, imagine yourself finishing a difficult hike. Fill in the feeling of success.
  • If you are afraid of spiders, imagine yourself facing a spider and not feeling anything.

Facing Your Fears

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Identify false beliefs

Many fears are based on mistaken beliefs or catastrophism. When you see a spider, you could instantly believe that the spider will hurt you and you will die. 

Identify the patterns of your thinking and start questioning them. Do some research online and understand what risks you are taking to compare them to the risks you believe you are taking. 

Admit that the worst possible scenario is unlikely to happen. Begin to restructure your thoughts to avoid catastrophism and respond to these thoughts.

  • When your fear emerges, pause and think about the risk you are taking. Respond to your negative thoughts or beliefs by saying, for example, “I know that some dogs can hurt me, but most of them are nice. I’m unlikely to be bitten. “

Try the gradual exposure

Once you have faced your mistaken beliefs, start exposing yourself to fear. The fear of the unknown is a phrase often used to describe an automatic dislike that people have towards everything that is different.

  • If you are afraid of dogs, start looking at the picture of a dog, then the video of a dog. Examine them until you no longer feel fear.
  • Go to a park where you know there will be one or more dogs on a leash and watch them until you no longer feel fear.
  • Go to a friend who has a dog and watches him interact with the dog until you no longer feel fear.
  • Ask your friend if you can touch or stroke the dog while holding it until it feels natural.
  • Finally, get closer to the dog and spend some time together.

Train yourself to be in touch with what scares you 

The power to label your emotions is useful for understanding yourself and for your emotional intelligence. 

It also appears that in confronting your fear and giving it a name, you will arrive in an extraordinary way to overcome your fears and regulate your emotions. 

Learn relaxation techniques

When your body feels fear, many mechanisms prepare your body to fight or run away. 

Learn to avoid these reactions by using relaxation methods. Relaxation tells your body that there is no danger and that you are safe. 

Relaxation can also help you overcome stress and anxiety in other areas of your life.

  • Try to breathe deeply. Concentrate on your breathing and start counting each movement: four seconds to inhale and four seconds to exhale. Once you feel comfortable, extend the breaths for up to six seconds.
  • If you notice that your muscles are stretching, relax them consciously. One way to do this is to stretch the muscles of your body for three seconds before relaxing. Do it two or three times to calm the stress you feel throughout your body.

Take advantage of your fears

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Make your fears a source of fascination

The things that scare us are also things that provoke excitement and even passion. That’s why people love extreme sports, horror movies and swimming with sharks during their holidays. 

Try to see your fear in a more positive light and recognize the thrills it gives you. When you start to see your fear as a source of energy, you will accept its role in your life.

Harness the power of your fears

Fears can have incredible power over life and death situations. People say they feel that time is slowing down, that their senses are becoming more precise and that they know instinctively what they have to do.

  • By understanding the positive sides of fear, you will turn it to your advantage. For example, many people are afraid of going on stage, however, this fear can help you focus on the moment and see what is in front of you. Learn to recognize this fear to direct it to your advantage.
  • Most people feel fear before an event, but they are no longer afraid when they are in the middle of this event. Remember that fear improves the accuracy of your senses and helps you do what you have to do effectively and powerfully.

Start seeing fear as an opportunity

Fear can be used as a tool to identify problems and solve them effectively. It’s an indicator, a warning that warns you to pay attention. 

Once the embarrassment of the first wave of fear has passed, examine it more closely to see what you can learn.

  • When you are afraid of something unknown, take it as a sign that tells you that you need to get to know that person or situation.
  • If you are afraid of an upcoming event or a deadline, take it as an opportunity to put in place a plan of action to be fully prepared for it, that pushes you to start to do your homework, repeat for a piece or practice your speech.