Conquering Fears

Everyone has fears. There are so many different types of fears, whether it be a fear of heights, spiders, darkness, dogs, or even of clowns. There are usually many occasions where your fear may hold you back from experiences that you could otherwise enjoy. Or fears could be holding you back from making progress towards your goals.

So, how do we confront our fears, or even permanently overcome them?

To confront your fear and muster up the courage to act despite the fear, we first need to get into a situation where you experience the fear. For example, if you have a fear of heights, you could visit somewhere high up with a glass floor, such as the Tower Bridge or the CN Tower. If you fear dogs, consider visiting a friend with a dog. If you fear public speaking, find a way to give a talk to the people you live with or other relatives.

Once in the presence of the fear, you should concentrate on your breathing, making sure that it is nice and slow. You can also focus on the sensations in the body, knowing that you’re still alive and the thing you fear hasn’t killed you yet. And in some situations, you can close your eyes too. If you practice regular mindfulness meditation, then you’ll find this step much easier than most other people.

If you can handle your current level of exposure, try and get closer to whatever you fear. In the case of heights, if you’re on a glass floor, then get closer to the centre of the piece of glass you’re standing on. If you’re afraid of dogs, then get closer to a dog and try to gently touch them.

If you start to get overwhelmed, remember to control your breathing and keep it steady. Consider closing your eyes (if the situation allows) and focus your attention on different parts of your body. Notice how your feet are still on the ground and feel your weight pressing your feet to the floor. Notice whether you can feel physical sensations that have come about as a consequence of your fear. You won’t be able to do this for any fear, such as any fear involving talking to people, but remember you can almost always walk away and take a breather.

Another way to cope is to notice any feeling that arises and rationally criticise it. Does it make sense to be scared of talking to strangers? The chance of you getting physically hurt is incredibly small, and does it matter if you get judged negatively? If you’re up high, what are the chances of you falling? If you’re inside a building, unless the windows are open, you’re not going to fall. If you’re climbing with equipment designed to stop you falling, the chance of it failing is probably very small. There will be many cases where your fear isn’t rational. Understanding that a fear isn’t rational will help you overcome it.

If you get used to feeling the fear and start to realise it’s not so bad, well done! You’ve overcome a challenge that required courage and the next time you approach a similar situation you’ll feel much more at ease.

If you couldn’t face it for long and had to back out, then don’t feel down. You still dared to confront your fear, and next time your fear should be more manageable. It’s not an easy task and you may need to confront your fear multiple times until you feel better in the face of it.

Now you’ve faced your fear once, to get rid of it entirely is just a case of repeatedly exposing yourself to the fear, noticing whether it is irrational, and making sure that you stay calm and composed when under the pressure. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you won’t notice the fear anymore!

Removing your fear could open up new opportunities for you, or just make your life less uncomfortable. Overcoming fears requires courage, it’s not at all easy. Consider whether you’d like to get rid of any of your fears and if so, try to overcome them! It can be a tremendous challenge, but the reward and satisfaction of overcoming it can be well worth it for the future.