Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. It has a very strong effect on your mind and body.
Fear can create strong signals of response when we’re in emergencies – for instance, if we are caught in a fire or are being attacked.
It can also take effect when you’re faced with non-dangerous events, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a party. It’s a natural response to a threat that can be either perceived or real.
According to Napoleon Hill, “Fears are nothing more than a state of mind”
There are things you want to do. You want to start a project. You long to speak your truth. You are so ready to quit your job. You crave putting your art, words or message out in the world.
Yet something stops you. And it’s not even some external obstacle. It’s your own anxiety, worry or fear. You imagine the worst-case scenario or engage in paralysis by analysis all in an attempt to calm your concerns, yet this just makes them worse!
Worry is using our mind to come up with and visualize worst-case scenarios, instead of using the power of our mind to visualize what we truly want to occur. On some level, we think it’s protecting us or keeping us safe. But all its doing is creating more anxiety.
Anxiety is a word we use for some types of fear that are usually to do with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, rather than right now.
Fear and anxiety can last for a short time and then pass, but they can also last much longer and you can get stuck with them. In some cases they can take over your life, affecting your ability to eat, sleep, concentrate, travel, enjoy life, or even leave the house or go to work or school. This can hold you back from doing things you want or need to do, and it also affects your health.
When we feel fear, it’s important that we first be with the part of us that feels scared and anxious. When we get scared as adults, we need to learn how to respond to it in a way that feels reassuring.
Some people become overwhelmed by fear and want to avoid situations that might make them frightened or anxious. It can be hard to break this cycle, but there are lots of ways to do it. You can learn to feel less fearful and to cope with fear so that it doesn’t stop you from living.
Lots of things make us feel afraid. Being afraid of some things – like fires – can keep you safe. Fearing failure can make you try to do well so that you won’t fail, but it can also stop you doing well if the feeling is too strong.
What you’re afraid of and how you act when you’re afraid of something can vary per person. Just knowing what makes you afraid and why can be the first step to sorting out problems with fear.
Below are the actions to take to confront your fears
Face your fear
This is what I call Avoid Your Avoidance. The only way to deal with fear is to face it. Avoiding it prevents us from moving forward—it makes us anxious. If you always avoid situations that scare you, you might stop doing things you want or need to do. You won’t be able to test out whether the situation is always as bad as you expect, so you miss the chance to work out how to manage your fears and reduce your anxiety. Anxiety problems tend to increase if you get into this pattern. Exposing yourself to your fears can be an effective way of overcoming this anxiety.
Try to learn more about your fear or anxiety. Keep an anxiety diary or thought record to note down when it happens and what happens. You can try setting yourself small, achievable goals for facing your fears. You could carry with you a list of things that help at times when you are likely to be become frightened or anxious. This can be an effective way of addressing the underlying beliefs that are behind your anxiety. Try to learn more about your fear or anxiety. Keep a record of when it happens and what happens.
Fear causes us to notice and remember negative events, which reinforces our sense that the world is a scary place. We can work to change that by deliberately noticing what is positive—the joy we feel when we see someone we love, the pleasure of a sunny day, the beauty in nature, the fun of an outing, the humor in a situation.
According to research by Barbara Fredrickson, positivity broadens our perspective—we literally have a wider view, which offers us more options. And the more we practice positivity, the more it builds, creating a resilience that allows us to function even in difficult times.
Fear can shatter our sense of the world as we know it. Those who have experienced trauma may also have experienced real losses that further lead them to question the meaning of their lives. Trauma survivors also often feel guilt about what happened, feeling, illogically, that they could have somehow prevented it, and Learn what purpose is and how to enhance it this shame can also contribute to doubts about their meaning.
But whether we suffer from anxiety or trauma, it is important to rediscover a sense of purpose. An 80-year study of factors contributing to longevity found that individuals who return to healthy behaviors after trauma are the ones able to find meaning in the traumatic experience and reestablish a sense of security about the world.
Increase the amount of exercise you do. Exercise requires some concentration, and this can take your mind off your fear and anxiety.
Learning relaxation techniques can help you with the mental and physical feelings of fear. It can help just to drop your shoulders and breathe deeply
Avoid alcohol, or drink in moderation
It’s very common for people to drink when they feel nervous. Some people call alcohol ‘Dutch courage’, but the after-effects of alcohol can make you feel even more afraid or anxious.
Faith and Spirituality
If you are religious or spiritual, this can give you a way of feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. Faith can provide a way of coping with everyday stress, and attending church and other faith groups can connect you with a valuable support network.
Face your fears and anxieties so they don’t become debilitating. Identify ways to create a sense of personal control or mastery in your life.