Fear is a healthy and natural survival instinct. However, finding a balance is necessary. Otherwise, excessive fear is mentally exhausting and crippling, preventing you from fully enjoying your life.
The goal isn’t eradicating fear, but learning to understand and manage fear. You control the fear, rather than letting fear control you. The roots of fear can be very deep.
Fear and Your Self-Image
- Chaotic childhoods and abandonment issues can result in unhealthy dependencies in adulthood.
- People badly hurt in one relationship can close themselves off to prevent future pain.
- Fear of failure can cause workaholic behavior that pushes aside friends and family.
Don’t let fear determine how you think of yourself or cause you to act unwisely. Don’t define yourself as a codependent, commitment-phobe or workaholic. You can’t change the past, but you can change how you react to it.
The following five self-care tips could help you manage your fear.
Keeping a journal can help you discover your deeply-held reactions to fear. Reserve 5-10 minutes a day to record daily worries or anxieties and your automatic responses. This is the first step to understanding your fears and changing your behavior.
- Did you work unnecessary overtime because you fear being anything but super-dedicated?
- Did you react excessively to another’s action or comment?
- What were your feelings?
- When did you last feel this way? Look for patterns.
Not all fears are caused by severe trauma. A fear of the dentist can be helped by becoming used to the office and discussing your specific fear with the dentist. A fear of lack of control can be helped by letting others do small tasks without criticism. Relinquishing some control isn’t easy, but can improve your life and relationships.
Talk to Someone
A trained therapist can help you work through deep-seated fears. Discussing your fears with a trusted friend or partner can help. Simply talking about a fear could make it less frightening.
Fears caused by an extremely traumatic experience should be treated by a trained professional. For other fears, sitting quietly and accepting your fear can help train your brain to handle it rationally instead of with a knee-jerk reaction.
Visualizing fears in a supportive setting is helpful for non-traumatic fears. Imagine your fear happening in an atmosphere of acceptance and light. Eventually, the fear won’t be as overwhelming.
Over time, many fears will become less scary. Therapy is recommended for deeply-held fears, but you can learn to manage lesser fears. Unchain yourself and live a happier life.