Do you feel uncomfortable at situations because of fear? If you are, you are not alone. Everyone has a fear of something. Fear is a learned behavior and while its something to be worried about, it is not a completely bad thing. Fear can prepare you for the worst and sometimes save you from bad things. Read on to find out how to overcome fear and master yourself.
What is Fear?
Fear is our natural defense mechanism against anything that can cause us harm. It’s the natural mechanism that gives a warning sign that things might not go as planned.
Experiencing fear can cause behavioral changes and result in an increase in heart rate, make you nauseous, sweat and make you more perceptive and be on the lookout for various environmental dangers. You will begin to evaluate things more than once and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Fear can not only come as a result of a physical threat but also through the different choices that we make in life. Each choice that we make has some form of fear attached to it. More often than not, the fear is right. It can help us be practical and take logical decisions rather than irrational ones that may be influenced.
How to get rid of Fear?
So how do you overcome fear? Simple. You can’t overcome it. You can’t run from it or give in to it. But you can learn to manage it better as time passes. Let me tell you why letting go of fear is impossible and my thoughts on how to get around fear.
“You don’t get less afraid, you get braver.Jordan Peterson
What are the forms of Fear?
Fear can take many forms but some are very common, such as:
- Fear of embarrassment.
- Afraid to lose someone you value.
- Fear of facing failure & poverty.
- Fear of public speaking.
- Afraid of the dark or some external factors.
- Trauma or Bad experience that induces fear.
Fear doesn’t usually mean a threat, it can also be something unknown that you are afraid to explore. Fear can prevent you from experiencing the parts in life associated with it. For example, a person afraid of heights will never visit mountains or experience sky diving as a matter of fact. Ask yourself, “What do you fear the most?” and begin to understand why do you fear them. Most probably its because then you’ve never ventured beyond that point.
Are Fear and Phobia the same?
Fear is associated with emotion while Phobia refers to an anxiety disorder that results when it exists for a long-term and usually extreme.
Fear of the dark is the best example I can come up with, as someone who was afraid of it since childhood. It is also the most fearful thing for many people while growing up. We used to imagine that there’s a ghost under the bed or in the closet hiding to get a hold of you. Honestly, there weren’t any ghosts there (obviously). While most of us aren’t afraid of the darkness itself, it might be some imaginary factors that instill fear in you.
Phobia is most commonly referred to as irrational fear. For someone experiencing a phobia, they are most likely to think of it as real and experience the trauma and various side effects. Having continual fear of something for over 6 months can be a phobia. If you are scared while you even think of it, that is something to be concerned about. And it may require professional help to get over it.
Misconception about fear
While fear is a defense mechanism, it only exists to help you through a tough situation. And no one would voluntarily want to experience fear. The common solutions to fear that indicate you to overcome them by suppressing fear or having to manipulate you by misdirection may not always work. It may be a short-term solution but it might go out of hand start haunting you again.
Some would say “Avoid the things that put you in that tough spot. Take precautionary steps to avoid being exposed to fear”. While it sounds like a good idea, it clearly wouldn’t work. If you try to have workarounds, it generally means that you can’t solve it and are trying to move away from it.
In my case, I knew there wasn’t anything under the bed or closet but still feared it anyway. Nothing really happened to me when I reached out to get something under my bed. But I didn’t take it as something to be not feared for some reason.
Avoiding fear doesn’t make you feel any better and only make matters worse because when you still face it, the knowledge about it and knowing how to walk away from it will not help. Sure, you will know why you are afraid but you will not get over it truly.
The only Step to overcome fear
The best way to overcome fear is to go out there and face it head-on. Heightened senses and warning signs that put you in danger are a force to reckon with. The power that you need to face it is already within you. You have to prepare yourself mentally and put yourself in a discomforting spot.
I decided to watch a lot of horror movies as I was scared of them anyway. I sure was prepared to see in real life, any of the characters the movies showed. When I kept watching them I was scared as hell but to my surprise, the experience of watching the horrors of them and (sometimes) being stopped by protagonists made me realize something and arrive at an interesting conclusion.
The fear inside me didn’t go away at all, but I managed to become more immune to fear. Then I learned to be braver and better at coping with fear. Later, after many years I came to know about the process as behavioral therapy and it means to expose the subject to its worst fear in a controlled environment.
When you expose yourself to the source of fear multiple times, you eventually get used to it and begin to be braver. As a result, you will no longer be afraid of what you used to fear the most.
The effective solution to overcome fear is to not run away from it but to embrace it and face it head-on.
Other ways to overcome fear
This solution is not guaranteed to work as putting you in a tough spot may not be easy. At times like this, it is recommended to gradually expose yourself to such fear but being consistent in it. Just like video games where the protagonist beats the demons and zombies if you could visualize yourself the same way it will be beneficial.
The mind doesn’t know the difference between you visualizing it and actually experiencing it, so this is another way to expose yourself to fear at a controlled level of risk.
Check this PC game out if you want to experience a psychological thriller and overcome fear: Alan Wake – Try this game out.
‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave’
If you want to tackle the fears that hold you back and take back control in life, you have to face them with all your might. The people who smile during hard times are considered the strongest of them all. If you wish to be brave and conquer all your fears, make yourself uncomfortable by attempting things that you are scared of. You will get through them and learn to live with them. You only need to take the necessary steps for it. We never truly overcome our fears, but learn to adapt and manage them better.