What is it that you fear most? What’s the one thing that gives you nightmares at night? Is it possible to get rid of fear and anxiety? What exactly is fear, and why do people have it?
Fear is a concept that limits people from becoming who they want to be. Most of them use it as an excuse for not achieving their goals in life. They prefer to hide behind it as well as their anxiety instead of pushing themselves to act. Before anything else, you must understand what fear and anxiety are in order to improve your overall mental health.
What Is Fear?
Knowing what this emotion is the key to overcoming it. Fear is a normal feeling and an evolutionary response. It’s triggered by a possible threat to your physical or emotional well-being.
When you encounter threats, it triggers your body to respond physiologically through the fight-or-flight-or-freeze response. This is instinctive and essential to a person’s survival.
However, individuals are triggered differently in the modern world and so won’t respond in the same way. For instance, fear can be provoked by a loud and sudden noise or standing in front of an audience.
How would you know that you’re afraid? Here are some of the signs to take note of:
- Faster heartbeat
- Quick breathing
- Sweaty palms
- Dry mouth
- Stomach churning
- Either tense or weak muscles
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Although fear can be unpleasant, it’s usually a healthy human reaction. It turns into anxiety when it constantly discourages you from living your best life.
Long-term fear can be considered anxiety. While fear is something you may feel from time to time, anxiety is persistent. It’s a mental health condition that comes with mild to severe symptoms. Anxiety disorders include panic attacks and phobias.
Anxiety levels may increase when your fear blows out of proportion in that you have frightening thoughts and overreact to triggers that are perceived threats. When any threat is dispelled, your fear would naturally subside. But if you have anxiety, the symptoms persist and sometimes can only be managed by medication or therapy.
Individuals could develop anxiety because of big events such as changing careers or putting up a business using their hard-earned money. Highly anxious individuals may experience the following physical symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Weight gain or loss
- Compromised immune system
Fear vs. Anxiety
Symptoms of fear and anxiety may overlap, but their occurrence varies. You could experience fear symptoms when faced with a real threat. Anxiety, on the other hand, can occur even due to imagined threats.
Common Types of Anxiety
Anxiety affects 19.1% of the American population each year. There are different kinds of anxiety, including the following:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Persons diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have difficulty falling asleep and struggle to concentrate. They often think and worry about the same life events over and over again.
Anxiety can manifest in acute ways, one of which is a panic attack. This happens all of a sudden without any specific triggers.
The other symptoms of a panic attack are shortness of breath, sweating, chills, a fast heartbeat, and intense fear. Some individuals who experience it feel as though they’re having a heart attack.
A person who’s prone to having panic attacks could have difficulty functioning daily. It may also be hard to determine whether someone is experiencing a severe panic attack just by looking at them.
An estimated 12% of American adults acquire a phobia at some point in their life. A phobia is the extreme fear of a particular object, animal, or situation. Some of the common ones are acrophobia (fear of heights), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), and glossophobia (fear of public speaking).
When your fear impairs your everyday function, that’s when you know it’s already a phobia. You may then resort to extreme measures to avoid the triggers. The reactions of people with a phobia range from mild to severe.
7 Steps in Overcoming Fear
How can a person overcome fear? By acknowledging it and limiting the beliefs holding them back. Here are some specific tips on how to overcome your fears once and for all:
1. Name Your Fears
The first key to unlocking your fear is to recognize the source. Knowing what you’re up against is a crucial step in solving any problem or issue.
Be physically calm and reflect on this question: what frightens you the most? Write it down, and make sure to be honest with yourself. If you can’t seem to zero in on the answer, practice mindfulness meditation for clarity.
2. Use Fear to Your Advantage
When you feel anxious, don’t give in to or dismiss the feeling. Instead, listen to your fear and anxiety as they may be telling you something important.
If you want to move past a particular fear, you have to learn to lean on your anxiety. Treat fear as an ally and a significant source of guidance in reaching your full potential.
3. Reflect on Your Fears
If your tendency is to react rashly to your fears, you’re more likely to harm yourself. You might resort to drinking or treating yourself to comfort food whenever you’re afraid or anxious.
Next time, instead of reacting right away, try to do nothing. Sit down, relax, and embrace your fear. Reflect on the possible reasons that you’re scared. This way, you can figure out the root cause of your fears.
Think before acting. Figure out the best course of action to take in overcoming your fear. A single moment of reflection may help you take purposeful control of your fear.
4. Aim for Realistic Goals
Getting rid of your fears could become more challenging than necessary if you set unrealistic goals. Ask yourself what you desire most in life. Is it possible to attain, and how can you reach it? Are you already in the process of working toward it, or are you still dreaming about or envisioning it?
To overcome fear, you have to come up with clear and realistic goals. It’s best to go for those that you know you’re capable of achieving. Of course, should you stumble along the way, keep trying. If you aim for practical objectives, you shouldn’t have a hard time picking yourself up even if you face some setbacks.
5. Steer Clear of Excuses
Fear gives you the liberty to make excuses. It allows you to limit yourself and put things off. You may often find yourself saying things like, “This idea won’t work at all. There are other worthwhile activities I can do instead.”
Sit and reflect on everything you say to yourself. Are your words truthful, or are you only making excuses because you’re afraid of failure? Reaching your goal entails a long journey that requires a lot of sacrifice, resilience, and patience. Thinking of excuses is, admittedly, much easier, but it won’t benefit you in the long run.
Determine the excuses you’re constantly making. Then, figure out what you can do about it. There’s no such thing as being too busy. There’ll always be time for anything if you prioritize properly.
If you find yourself often giving in to your excuses, stop and tell yourself, “No more excuses.” Excuses won’t help you grow and reach your goals.
6. Surround Yourself With Success
Surely you’ve heard of the law of attraction. It explains that you become who you surround yourself with. Therefore, if you seek the company of people with positive dispositions in life, you’ll eventually absorb their beliefs and energy.
Look for individuals who aren’t afraid to reach their goals and conquer their fears. If you spend enough time with them, you’ll surely learn to turn your excuses and fears into something positive and productive. Not only will you look up to them for inspiration, but they’ll also be the very people who’ll encourage you to work on your goals dutifully.
7. Have a Growth Mindset
Your fear could hold you back from progress by making you apprehensive of committing mistakes. To counter it, you must adopt a positive growth mindset. Basically, this is about being comfortable with uncertainty and persevering despite your doubts.
Whether your progress is slow or you’re making many mistakes, keep going. Despite hurdles, you’ll still be closer to your goal than those who haven’t even tried. Remember: there’ll be trials and hardships as you journey on. Therefore, you have to accept that the path toward goal attainment is rough and treacherous.
You Can Overcome Fear
Everyone has fears, and each person goes through self-doubt. So whatever it is that you’re feeling, it’s important that you acknowledge it.
Though you have the power to control how you respond to fear and anxiety, managing them alone can be daunting. If you’ve tried the suggested tips above but still have had no luck getting over your fear, go ahead and reach out to a life coach or mental health expert.
Counseling Now can work with you in dealing with your symptoms and general anxiety problems. We’ll provide you with the therapy you need to give yourself the chance to face your fears and break barriers. Our team will help you unleash your inner strength knowing that you can overcome any obstacle and move past your fears. Book an appointment with Counseling Now to get started.