Fear is one of our most basic and essential survival mechanisms, but sometimes it can overwhelm us even when a real threat doesn’t exist.We’re afraid of failure and embarrassment, despite the consequences normally being far from life-or-death. We’re terrified of shark attacks and plane crashes, even though the odds of catastrophe are so minute.
For many it’s because of a past trauma or unpleasant experience, which are difficult to remedy.
We’ve collected a variety of insights from Psychology Today that will help you identify and overcome the fears and anxiety you face every day.
Here's a simple, age-old exercise from Swiss psychiatrist Paul Dubois. Every night, grab a piece of paper and draw two columns. List the things that troubled you in one, and things that were favourable on the other. Make at least one favourable entry for each troubling one.
The realisation that you have good things happening every day helps prevent you from just thinking about the negatives.
Neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson says in his column that our human instincts of survival make us constantly unsettled and fearful, protecting us against ever completely letting our guard down.
But it's all a lie, according to Hanson. Your brain is automatically telling you something bad is going to happen, which may be true in the future, but not right now. By reminding yourself that you're OK right now, you can more easily settle your fear and build well-being.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Bill Knaus references mid-1900's psychologist Tom Williams in his column, who suggested that you always have to figure out what's going on inside your head. How do you do this?
1) Write out your thoughts
2) Examine the meaning of those self-statements and figure out what the problems are
3) Now, incorporate new actions. If you just do exactly what you were going to do earlier, you're still using the conclusions your mind came to while under conditions of fear and anxiety.
Re-evaluate the actual probability that something bad will happen so that you aren't constantly over-anxious
Family therapist Dr. Marilyn Wedge prescribes in her column a type of therapy that you can do at home for the fear of flying. Sit alone in your bedroom, set an alarm for fifteen minutes and start imagining the most terrifying aeroplane trip you can muster. Once the timer goes off, you can go back to your usual day.
If your mind can conjure up the fear, then it can stop it.
realise that not everything is the end of the world -- one way to do this is by consciously trivializing tasks
Social psychologist Dr. Susan K. Perry suggests in her column that you always think of yourself as playing. If something goes wrong, you can just try again, or try it in some other way.
And when you compare something in your daily life to decisions that are truly life-and-death, it gives you better perspective as to what's really important -- and that failure at something that's probably just trivial isn't something to be so fearful or anxious about.
Science writer Jeff Wise says that people who had recently had sex were much calmer when confronting one of their fears -- in this case, speaking in front of a group of strangers. This occurs because having sex releases oxytocin, a hormone that evokes feelings of bonding, contentment and security.
Forensic psychologist Stephen A. Diamond says in his column that anger has emboldening and energizing properties, and cites Mel Gibson's character in Braveheart, William Wallace, as a prime example of rage allowing someone to overcome fear.
After a bad event happens, engage your parasympathetic nervous system by breathing deeply and relaxing your muscles
Diamond also says that 'Courage is not the absence of fear, but moving ahead despite fear.' We all have a capability to be courageous, but it ends up being a conscious choice that we all make. Either step up and handle it or run away.
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