Heat, blockage, anguish, discomfort … Fear can present itself in different ways and be triggered by a wide variety of stimuli. However, whether it’s fear of flying, fear of driving, or fear of public speaking, fear is fear. A necessary emotion but one that is essential to learn to regulate.
For this reason, it is this Psychology-Online article, you will find how to overcome fears and overcome anxiety, worries and personal insecurities through different techniques and exercises to face fear.
What is fear
Fear is a primary, basic and universal emotion. That means that it is present in the emotional repertoire of each and every one of us. So, is it for something? Evidently! Fear is a defense mechanism in situations that pose a danger.
If you wonder why you are afraid, you should know that this emotion has a clear survival function. It guides you towards the most appropriate reaction when there is something that poses a risk to you. In large part, it is thanks to fear that our ancestors have survived. For example, when fear helped them run before a predator. Currently, fear is responsible for not starting to walk on the highway or for not sitting on the railing of the balcony of the tenth floor. In the following article you will find more information about what fear is in psychology.
This fear that is triggered by real and present danger is called functional fear, as it is helping us. On the other hand, we find dysfunctional fear, that fear that is not helping you. For example, the fear of flying is not helping you because it implies that you spend more time traveling or the fear of the new does not make life easier either since it prevents you from taking advantage of opportunities and living new experiences.
Why am I afraid: causes of fears and insecurities
The fear reaction appears when a threat is perceived. That is, when we find ourselves in a situation in which there is a danger that can have negative consequences for us. For example, it can cause you fear of losing your job since it has negative effects on your economy, your well-being and your quality of life.
The fear is not due only to the situation, but to what it implies for each one. For example, if you are sure that, in case of losing a job, you could easily find another with the same conditions, the threat would disappear and with it the fear.
Therefore, the causes of the fear reaction are both:
- The dangerous situation.
- The lack of resources to face it.
Both the threat posed by the situation and the lack of resources to deal with it may be real or it may be a perception. The second option is more frequent and is due to the following personal characteristics:
- Biased self-concept: a distorted image of oneself.
- Negative or unstable self-esteem: a poor assessment of oneself or that said assessment changes according to external events.
- Lack of confidence: lack of security and hope.
- Pessimism: tendency to observe reality from a negative perspective.
How to overcome personal fears and insecurities
The psychological strategies used in therapy to overcome fears are the following:
1. Work on your self-concept
To overcome fears and insecurities, the first step is self-knowledge. Know yourself: observe yourself and reflect on your characteristics, your abilities, your abilities, your achievements, your strengths and your weaknesses. For this you can perform the exercise of describing yourself in the most objective way possible. You can also ask trusted people to describe you in a letter and then compare the information.
2. Train your positivity
How to overcome fears and worries? We all see reality through a filter. Your filter may be negativity, and focusing only on possible negative consequences is inflating your fear. Train your positivity with the following positive psychology exercises.
3. Work on your self-esteem
While self-concept is the set of characteristics that we see in ourselves, self-esteem is the assessment we make of these characteristics. A good self-esteem is a positive self-esteem , that is, to value yourself well, and a stable self-esteem , that is, that specific events do not change this assessment.
Fear relates to self-esteem in the following way. For example, you may be scared on a test because you think your grades determine your worth. In other words, you may think that failing a test says you are not smart, good, talented, or valid enough. That is because self-esteem is unstable, it is not anchored to your person, but to relative qualities or abilities. Therefore, it staggers before an event. By strengthening self-esteem, part of these fears disappear. It can be improved by training self-acceptance and self-compassion .
4. Recognize fear
How to overcome fears and anxiety? The first step in overcoming personal fears, phobias, anxiety, worries, or insecurities is to acknowledge and accept it. Wasting energy is hiding your fears is unproductive. It is true that showing your fears highlights your vulnerability, but remember that to be human is to be imperfect and vulnerable.
5. Talk about it
After acknowledging it, talk about it naturally and normally. By sharing your fears, other people may also open up and share theirs with you. Being able to relate without masks and being able to share what worries you will give you peace of mind and security, in addition to the benefits of the support of these people.
6. Stop the fear of fear
It is common to observe that what is most feared is the fear reaction itself instead of the initial stimulus. For example, a person who is afraid to speak in public, who more than afraid to face the situation of the exhibition before the audience, is afraid of his own symptoms of fear: palpitations, sweating, tremors, blocks, facial flushing, stuttering, tingling, dizziness, shortness of breath, flushing, etc.
If this is your case, you should know that this is the body’s normal reaction to danger. This physiological response has the objective of activating your muscles, offering you energy and enhancing your abilities so that you can face a danger. It’s just about your body helping you survive.
Visualizing is imagining a situation, it is a thought that involves the senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, or kinesthetic sensations (movement, position and touch). Visualization works because the brain does not know how to differentiate what is real and what is imaginary. Thus, it has a similar chemical reaction to a situation and to imagine it. With visualization, the same brain areas are activated as when the action is performed. Therefore, it is considered a good way to rehearse a behavior. It would be useful, for example, to cope with the fear of driving.
Practicing visualization consists of imagining the situation with a great deal of detail that involves the perception of all the senses, emotions and sensations. It is recommended to use in conjunction with relaxation to regulate physiological arousal to mental images.
8. Learn relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques are aimed at reducing the physiological activation caused by stress, anxiety or fear. The relaxation techniques work and getting activate the parasympathetic nervous system and partially inhibit excessive functioning of the sympathetic system. Thus managing to evoke a relaxation response or making the anxiety response incompatible.
Training in relaxation techniques is complementary to most techniques and treatments for anxiety problems. The most used are muscle relaxation and breathing techniques.
9. Expose yourself to the dreaded stimulus
How to overcome fears and phobias? The quintessential technique to overcome irrational fears is exposure. This behavioral technique is based on the principle of habituation, which consists of reducing the intensity of the response to the continuous repetition of a harmless stimulus. That is, if you regularly face a situation that is not harmful, your emotional reaction will be less and less. The exposure can be in different ways:
- Live exposure: which consists of exposure to the feared stimulus in reality.
- Exposure in imagination: it means exposing oneself through imagining the situation that produces fear.
- Exposure through virtual reality or augmented reality: exposure through the technological tools of virtual or augmented reality.
The exposure should be gradual, accompanied by the practice of relaxation and better if it is guided by a professional.
10. Live with fear
If you ask yourself “how to stop having”, you should know that fear will never completely disappear. As the phrase says: fear is not removed, it is not a stain. It is an emotion and, like the others, it must be managed and regulated. The steps to manage an emotion are:
- Perceive it: be aware of it
- Identify it: name it
- Feel it: notice it and not fight to avoid it
- Listen to it: emotions provide us with information that can serve as a guide. You can ask yourself: why am I feeling fear now or what is causing this reaction.
- Let it go: once the emotion has already given you enough information and you have decided accordingly, you can let it go.
Exercises to overcome fear
How to overcome fear according to psychology? To get rid of the discomfort that dysfunctional fear produces, it is necessary to get used to sensations, change thought patterns and learn to manage emotion. To do this, in addition to the above strategies, you can practice these exercises to understand and manage fear:
Walking with a bandage
An exercise to work on fear and insecurity is to blindfold. With your eyes closed and no vision, would you run? Listen to your body . The emotion of fear appears because it can be dangerous. However, you can start walking. Little by little, slowly, put one foot forward and then the other. Help yourself with other senses, sounds, hands, etc. Pay attention to what you are feeling … how fear and insecurity decrease as you walk. When no danger is perceived, security increases. Keep walking.
Make a fool of yourself expressly
A good way to overcome fear and insecurities is to consciously expose yourself to a situation that makes you feel fear, anxiety, insecurity … For the exercise to work, you must expose yourself to the end, not back down or avoid the situation, but wait until your feeling of fear subsides. You can do or say something embarrassing, something that doesn’t make sense, something absurd that you know is going to be ridiculous. For example, sitting on the ground in the street, asking someone if they like noodle soup, or dancing on the train.
Decide what action you are going to take and pay attention to your previous sensations. Nerves, fear, sweating, rapid heart rate and breathing? That is the reaction that your body has to fear, the body prepares to face a danger. After making a fool of yourself and seeing that nothing happens, surely the symptoms are descending until they disappear. How do you feel now? Repeating the exercise many times will help you overcome your fears and gain confidence in yourself.
This article is merely informative, in Handsome & Men we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.
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