Updated: Apr 7, 2021
Most of the time, our fears are based on the beliefs learned in the past or through unpleasant situations experienced.
We learn our behaviour from others, absorb their emotions related to facts and ideas. To overcome unhealthy thinking patterns, we need first to become aware of their existence, the influence exerted on us, and then take action.
Understanding how your fear won a significant place in our mind and undermined our balance can help us find a way to defeat it.
Fears create insecurities and anxieties and they stop us from living fully.
“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world,
and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand,
and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
By writing your fears down and analyzing any memory and sensation related to them, you'll begin to have an understanding of what is really happening in your mind and how your fears became something you still believe in.
Fears may have multiple roots:
Challenges faced during childhood
Being bullied in childhood/adolescence
Rigidity of thinking patterns
Mistaking your feelings with who you are
Making others beliefs become your own
Believing you don't deserve better
Hoping that the situation might change without any intervention
Assuming that you are not enough
Hearing negative comments about yourself or others from people you care
When your mind experiences one or more of the above situations and is not supported by adequate help, you may begin to develop unhelpful coping mechanisms. Often these mechanisms have immediate positive results or give relief from the pressure experienced. But later, if you don't let them go, they prevent you from living your life fully.
The outcome is an increased anxiety; you find yourself not trying as you are afraid to mess up everything, or not facing challenging situations because you believe you are:
not good enough
afraid to be judged
terrified everyone finds out you are incompetent
not good as others
not 100% certain to be the best
Journalling your fears can reveal a lot about their source and give you a broader perspective. Understanding the story you are telling yourself is fundamental to resolve your fears. Once you've identified the roots of your fear, you can find a way to overcome it.
“Writing in a journal activates the narrator function of our minds.
Studies have suggested that simply writing down our account of a challenging experience can lower physiological reactivity and increase our sense of well-being,
even if we never show what we’ve written to anyone else.”
Daniel J. Siegel
Steps to put fears into perspective.
After the self-exploration work comes the next challenge: putting your fears into perspective, here are some questions you can ask yourself:
How many chances are there that the real outcome is that catastrophic?
(i.e., an unsatisfactory job can be changed)
Are there any chances that changing perspective could help?
(i.e., being alone or being lonely sounds and feels different)
Did someone initiate this story for you?
(i.e., by telling you are not good/smart enough)
Did the story you are telling yourself develop after you failed at something?
(i.e., we can be incredibly judgemental toward ourselves)
How much of your story is based on assumptions?
(i.e., not much can be evaluated on assumptions, focus on real facts)
Is any of this story based on unrealistic expectations?
(i.e., trying your luck is ok, but relying on it can be senseless)
What is the worst-case scenario if my fear becomes real?
(i.e., sometimes the worst outcome is not that bad)
How would your life look without those fears?
(i.e., explore possible scenarios)
Take small steps to conquer your fear.
Now that you finally realized you have some power over your fear, do not underestimate it. Start your journey against your fears by setting small achievable goals. Establishing little steps is important, as success is unlikely if you face your goal in full, while many little steps can take you to the outcome you wish.
Accept that it will feel scary
Focus on the small step and not the final goal
Refrain from overthinking, stay in the present moment
Don't be afraid to do mistake; failure is part of trying
Don't let mistakes stop you
Accept failures and keep focusing on your goal
Congratulate yourself for every small achievement
Practice self-compassion and self-acceptance
Accept that not everyone will support you
It's ok if not everyone likes you, as you don't like everyone either
Use self-affirmations and cheer for yourself
Journalling will help you explore ways to find solutions when you are stuck with your fears, as they are built on a repetitive and harmful thinking process. They keep you hooked into an ineffective mindset, reducing the possibility of enjoying your life. One of the most common symptoms of fear are anxiety and insecurity. Therefore, keeping your fears on a reasonable level is vital. Even when it seems impossible, the perspective of a better way of living makes it worth a try.
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt
And in the meantime, be patient, trust your journey, it takes some work, but you got this. You have the means and power to make the best out of your life. Use them.
If you have questions, feel free to get in touch.