There is no such thing as fear.
How’s that for a bold statement! Good, now I have your attention, let me explain myself.
There are various factors that can create fear and most people don’t realize that fear itself is something that is totally internal to their own mind. It is not a real physical thing, you can’t point to something and say, “That over there is fear, watch out or you’ll trip over it”. It is a product of our subconscious reactions to certain stimuli that is internal to ourselves, although it can certainly feel real enough when it creeps up on you. The good news is that since it is a by-product of our reactions to things, you have a number of options to deal with it or even remove it entirely. Once you are aware of the causes, you can control it and work with it and eventually remove it as a problem in your life.
Rudy Giuliani once said: Courage is not the absence of fear; rather it is the management of fear.
Fear is something that you can manage, control and in some cases remove entirely. I will point out though that some fears serve a useful purpose, for instance the fear of fire stops us putting our hand in the fire, the fear of getting run over stops us from running across a busy freeway. I am sure you can think of some other examples of where fear is a good thing to have, so common sense should prevail in your efforts to remove fear from your life.
When your fear level goes up your ability to think rationally trends downward to the point where you can act in ways inappropriate to the situation. Of course being afraid doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you since everyone feels afraid of a wide variety of things, but when fear takes over your life or becomes prevalent in situations where it isn’t appropriate that is where you should take control. Learning to be in control of yourself is an important skill to learn and will serve you well all your life.
A lot of fears can be created by what we are thinking and the way we are thinking. You do have a choice about your thoughts since it’s your brain and you can be in control of it. As I said earlier, fear can be useful and you can use it when you decide to use it and not when the subconscious chooses. If you walk around all day concentrating on your fears you are reinforcing those fears to yourself and is something to be aware of.
As I mentioned, sometimes fear can also help us to make the ‘correct choices’ for various situations since if we didn’t fear the bad choices there would be no reason to stop choosing them. The important point though is to make a conscious decision about whether to be fearful in a situation or to allow the rational mind to make a choice amongst the possible solutions. Common sense will dictate your reaction. For example, if the reason you feel afraid is because of danger, get out of that situation as quickly as you can. Your safety is important, never neglect that.
To begin to control the fear you will need to examine it and see what it is that frightens you i.e. what component causes you to react in a fearful manner? Naturally when it happens, unless you are practiced at this, it will be difficult to examine your thoughts since you will have a mix of fear induced chemicals running through your body. Examining your thoughts as soon as possible after the event is necessary though. What is your fear and what aspect of your fear are you afraid of? What is it that frightens you the most? These are important questions you should ask yourself.
Sometimes our fears are rooted in something that has happened in our past. An event happened and our brains learned to be afraid of something. If this is so, then you need to find out what the event in the past was and examine it as rationally as you can. Is the fear even real or is it imagined? Our subconscious minds often can’t recognize an event that is real from an event that was imagined or programmed into us by ourselves or someone else. For example, a parent can unknowingly program a child to be afraid of a range of things, either unwittingly or because the parent is afraid and through showing this fear to the child, transfers that fear. Who knows how many generations this fear can be transferred or in what manner. Try to understand where the fear comes from and that will be a major step towards regaining control of the fear.
Sometimes the fear is about something that is unlikely to happen and yet our brains tell us that it will and then the fear builds up inside of us. Examine the event and work out how unlikely it is to affect you. This occurs time and again and is most noticeable with the media and it’s portrayal of events. They tend to focus on the negative images and reinforce our fears by retelling tragic events over and over again. The reason they do this is the business they are in, a business that needs to have people watching their programs and staying tuned so that their sponsors or advertisers have the opportunity to sell their wares. I have found that a lot of people aren’t aware of the biases the media have when they portray a story although it’s easy enough to watch out for once you are aware of it.
To control the fear you can do the following.
1. Do whatever is needed to prepare yourself for your fear. Often preparing for something that is fearful will help you to gain control over it since you are ready and able to handle it better.
2. Is there a way to desensitize yourself to your fear? Will repetition of the event make the fear go away?
3. Teach yourself to enjoy the task if it’s sensible to do so. This can be done through using an assortment of positive reinforcement techniques. Repeating to yourself that the task is good for you, or reinforcing for yourself the benefits that facing the fear will bring. (This and No 1 are good for public speaking.)
4. Train yourself to acknowledge the fear and accept it for what it is, simply your mind telling your body that something concerns it. Repeatedly telling yourself that you are no longer concerned about it and not to be afraid will help you to believe.
Always be kind to yourself. Fear happens to everyone and you can choose to work with it and nullify its effects rather than let it take control. Don’t be frustrated with yourself if you don’t see the effects immediately since it can take time to resolve.
Fear can be controlled. Remove it’s power to affect you and you remove the fear itself. Having the self-confidence to be able to handle situations will help you with other events as well. You will build up an ability to cope that you didn’t know you had.
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