Everyone is afraid of something. We all have that sense of anxiety as a result of something we fear, because it’s a normal response to prepare us for potentially dangerous situations – like falling, or being attacked by a dog. And although these fears are certainly normal, irrational fears can become detrimental. Irrational fears are what prevent us from living to our full potential and enjoying life as much as we’d like.
Those who suffer from irrational fears assume that it’s a losing battle. They’ll always be a victim of the fear. But this isn’t the case. There are tried and true tips you can implement to overcome your biggest fears and get on with living. Here’s how.
1. Get to know your fear
Let’s say that you’re afraid of flying. Chances are, then, you know very little about the mechanics of flying. But the more you investigate, and learn about the reasons turbulence happens normally, and getting to know the exact statistics of plane crashes (like, almost zero %) and more, you can become more empowered. When you refuse to uncover your fear, you begin to create a fictional tale, something far removed from reality. You start to hone in on the rare crashes that have happened. You think back to the TV show Lost, and begin to associate every negative connotation possible with flying. But by taking the mystery and fiction out of it, you can get the upper hand on your fear.
2. Baby steps into your fear
There is a saying that it’s better to jump into the water than walk in step by step. That’s absolutely NOT THE CASE when trying to overcome an irrational fear. You really need to take baby steps, and slowly expose yourself to the “big moment,” so that you don’t cause any further damage to your psyche. Here’s how:
- Visualize – Yup, visualize. Imagine yourself facing your fear. And don’t just visualize the generalization. Get specific. If it’s flying, picture everything from dropping your luggage off to the click of the belt, the pilot’s message and more.
- The fear ladder – Working up the fear ladder is a great gradual exposure technique. If you’re afraid of dogs, start looking at pictures of dogs first (first rung). Then, watch videos of dogs (second rung). Then, stand across the street from a leashed dog (third rung). Keep taking baby steps until you’re quite literally facing your fear.
- Do you need support? – If you have a deep-seeded fear, then you may want to consider seeing a therapist or a personal life coach, who can provide you with techniques to help you work up that fear ladder (a therapist can even hypnotize you).
3. Learn how to relax
As a personal life coach throughout New Zealand, Australia and North America, I’ve helped countless people learn the seemingly simple art of relaxation. Through meditative practices, and proper breathing, you can help the muscles in your body chill out, which will keep your mind at ease. Another neat trick to keep your mind from racing is repeating a simple word over and over again (like “The”).
4. Don’t do it alone
You shouldn’t have to face your fears alone. By accepting your fears, and sharing them with others, you’re giving yourself power over something that shouldn’t control your life the way it does. Be it a friend, spouse, life coach, or someone else, make this a team effort. You have the power to overcome your fears.
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