Not all fears are bad. When imminent danger is present, our fears act as a signal to prompt adaptive responses to circumvent harm. These rational fears are the ones that spur us into action to protect against conflict and physical threat. They help to keep us safe. But not all fears are rational, and the irrational ones are the culprits that hold us back in life.
What are irrational fears?
To one degree or another, most of us experience irrational fears that make no logical sense. These fears impede how we live our life and prevent us from reaching our full potential. The fears that can deter us the most include facing change, confronting uncertainty, losing control, experiencing failure, being judged, encountering rejection, feeling abandon, and losing the freedom to be and do what we want.
The side effects of irrational fear can be devasting to our physical and psychological well-being. So, if your fears are causing you great stress or holding you back in life, it is time to take the initiative to overcome them.
To start the process, try these techniques…
(1) Identify what makes you fearful. Brainstorm what causes you the greatest fears. Within these arrays of fears, which ones truly limit your ability to live a more beneficial and gratifying life?
(2) Delve into your fears. Take a step back and be an observer of what is going on with your fears. What thoughts trigger your fears? When and where do you feel them? What are your reactions to your fears and how do you control them?
(3) Keep a journal. It is easy to imagine the worst. To alleviate getting lost in negative thoughts, write your fears down on paper. This will validate their importance, focus your mind, and give you a different perspective.
(4) Voice your fears. Find people you trust and talk to them about your fears. Often, voicing your fears will lessen their power over you as well as help you explore possible ways to overcome them. You may consider getting professional help when the fears become detrimental to your health and well-being. The experience of going to the right therapist can be extremely beneficial and life changing.
(5) Confront your fears. Avoiding fears may do more harm than good. Facing your fears head-on often helps to dimmish their impact on you. Compare it to learning how to ride a bike. When you fall off, the best course of action is to get back on and try again.
(6) Stay positive. Don’t get stuck in the negativity of your fears. Use positive affirmations to create a more optimistic and forwarding thinking mindset. The more you can stay in the positive, the easier it will become to reduce and release your fears.
(7) It’s not about being perfect. Life is a mixture of good and bad days. As you start facing your fears, you may encounter setbacks. Instead of beating yourself up or quitting, simply take time to reflect and regroup before moving on. Failures are simply your steppingstones to success.
(8) Stick to the basics. Avoid turning to drugs or alcohol to self-treat your fears and anxiety. You will only make matters worse. As you begin to face your fears, be sure to exercise, get a good night’s sleep, maintain a healthy diet, find the fun in life, and do some form of meditation or yoga.
Being afraid is part of being alive. Accept it, but don’t be defined by it.
Click onto this picture to access the complimentary video. Check out more insightful videos on our YouTube Channel at: CLICK HERE.
Written by: Patricia K. Flanigan, Smart Strategies for Successful Living
Patricia K. Flanigan has worked in higher education for over 28 years. She holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne as well as a M.A. in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before retiring and moving to Idaho in 2015, she served as the dean of online education and learning resources at Saddleback College, a large community college in Southern California. She currently consults in higher education, volunteers for AARP, writes for a local magazine, and serves as an Affiliate Faculty member at Boise State University and on the Board for LEARN Idaho. Since February 2017, she has been the founding director for Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a community-based website designed to promote quality aging. As an educator, her focus is to inspire others to live and age well.