Fears and how to overcome them
There has been always darkness inside ourselves and demons hidden in those shadowy parts of our personality. At least, we tend to see them as demons. Those shady creatures keep telling us in our minds that we are not strong enough to fight. They spread the darkness in our bodies, covering our shiny parts. We are afraid because we think something bad will happen to us based on our previous experiences or because of lack of knowledge. Do we have to believe those demons? Why are they even there to haunt us?
Ever since the human race existed, we have always faced dark times, challenging situations and life-risking events and many people have died because of those situations. Fear, as an evolutional product, is a negative emotion that people try to avoid. It has evolved to warn us that there is a potential to be hurt, harmed, or even killed. The function of fear is linked to survival. However, as we are evolving and becoming more and more complex, we have to acknowledge that our emotions are not punctual algorithms in our bodies. They can be wrong too. Or at least they can exaggerate. If we just think about phobias, the extreme forms of fear, we can easily recognise the fault of this warning system. For example, not every spider is deadly or will potentially hurt you but for a person with arachnophobia, even the smallest hairy spider represents a threat.
People face fear in many other forms in everyday life according to how they interpret the happenings and past experiences. Fear is linked to perspective and this is the key to overcome fear: your perspective.
Probably the first, and most important phase of winning over your inner demons, is to change your thinking about fear. Both positive and negative emotions should be dealt with acceptance. Fear in itself is not the problem; it is the reaction to fear can cause problems.
Fear is a sign of the weaker parts of your personality. It works as a compass, a driving force that tells you that you need to improve in some areas of your life. It also shows that you do not trust your capabilities in a specific situation and draws your attention to this. And here’s the trick: instead of trying to get rid of it, try to listen to your fears. Maybe those demons are not there to cause you trouble, on the contrary, they are there to tell you something important. Maybe they are not demons after all?
The transformation of how you look at your thoughts can be a resource to face and overcome your fears.
Five tips to face and overcome your fears:
First, stop fighting against them and do not try to eliminate or ignore your fears as it just makes them stronger. Instead, try to get close and you will get to know them better in time. As we mentioned before, they have something important to tell you.
Second, gather the facts objectively and make your fear conscious. Know, what you are afraid of and try to find out where your fears originated. Collecting the rational facts around your fears will also help you to decrease the insecurity of what’s coming. Writing your fears down on a piece of paper might help you see them more structured and exact.
Third, think about the worst outcome! It may sound silly because you might think: doesn’t it make my fear stronger? Well, the fact is that it does not! If you can imagine the worst possible scenario when your fear comes true, you will be able to think about new plans and alternatives in case you fail. This is a huge relief in itself.
Fourth, find possible solutions to the problem! Think about your resources and what you can already do to beat the challenge that’s coming. Mostly, when you find ourselves face-to-face with fear, the first thing you concentrate on is your lack of ability in something. That is why you are afraid of the situation. If you can manage to shift your attention to the skills you already possess, you might easily find a solution.
Fifth, set an exact conditional limit where you decide to escape! Even if you try to fight those hardships, there is always still a possibility that you will fail. Although an unsuccessful outcome does not mean that you cannot do it next time, sometimes, it is more important to defend yourself. Think through the situation that you are afraid of and make a deal with yourself: ‘Okay, if this or that happens, I will leave the place.’ Set yourself a way out of the cage, just in case.
Everybody is scared of something. The feeling of fear is natural and human. According to Erik Berne, psychiatrist, fear comes from our inner child and there should always be an inner, mature, parent to calm it down. For some of us, it might be fuel, for others, it’s a great challenge. Either way, go and let that inner child play carelessly living with failures as well as successes to experience more instead of running away, thus living a more fulfilled life.
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Berne, E. (2011). Games People Play - The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis. Tantor eBooks.
Menzies, R. G., Clarke, J. C. (1995) The etiology of phobias: a non-associative account. Clinical Psychology Review, 15, 23-48
Seligman, M. E. P. (1971) Phobias and preparedness. Behavior Therapy, 15, 185-190