Fear, can you overcome yours?
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
I'm not going to start by informing you of what the clinical signs of Fear are as I don't think that is really necessary. We've all experienced some level of it at some time in our lives and some of us experience it more often and at a higher level than others.
Some people say all fear is irrational and there are plenty of people that like to claim they fear nothing or that fear is a weakness. So lets begin with all fear being irrational.
Irrational basically means an inadequate use of reason. But is all fear irrational? I would certainly say no it isn't. A level of fear is pre-programmed in us and has been since the dawn of time and luckily its hardwired into most animals. If it weren't, then I'd be able to walk out of the door and pick a squirrel off the tree like an Orange. So fear is part of our make up and we need it to stay alive by not picking up snakes or crossing the road with our eyes shut. Thousands of years ago, the dangers around us were probably far more serious every single waking moment of our lives, we have drastically reduced these dangers but our brains haven't caught up with these developments. Equally, some of us have greater levels of fear and anxiety which have even been worsened by our upbringing. So there is Nature and Nurture playing a part in the role of fear.
Most of us don't like being told the fear is irrational in the first place. We tend to bulk the word irrational with words like mad or crazy. So when someone tells you your fear is irrational, it isn't usually very helpful as you probably feel like they have just told you you're mad, which feels insulting and also makes you feel belittled and not understood. In fact most people with a fear already know it is irrational already, but that hasn't actually made the slightest bit of difference. When I see a giant House Spider racing out from under the sofa I know that it's not out to get me, its just making a run for cover or going about it's business. I know all this, thats rational, but I still lift my legs of the floor, utter a few choice words and feel my heart beat pick up and a slight shiver travel across me. I then begin looking around nervously for all his or her friends that are hiding somewhere ready to pounce. So is a fear of polystyrene irrational? Yes it probably is. Does telling the person this help? No it probably doesn't.
So to summarise. Some level of fear is helpful, it can save our lives. Some fear is irrational, but most of us know this so pointing that out is useless and can be insulting.
Can you fear nothing?
Now some people claim they fear nothing. This is possible actually and it can be seen in some people with a condition that does actually make them have no fear at all. The end result of this is that they cannot even be allowed near a cliff edge as they don't even have enough fear for their own basic survival instinct. Then there are Sociopaths, who often lack empathy and fear also, though they have a sensible level of fear which is enough to keep them from walking off a cliff edge. The rest of those that say they fear nothing are clearly just talking big, which is possibly over compensating for an actual fear they can't even mention.
Is fear a weakness?
Once again this can invoke the same reaction as telling someone fear is irrational, just don't do it. Those that tell you your fear is weakness are hardly being helpful by adding another negative to the way you are already feeling about the object of fear itself. It's one of those kick you when your down things, it just isn't necessary or kind.
Can we overcome our fears?
Now, when anyone asks me anything like "can I get control of my life?" My answer would be the following question, "Would you like to?"
I say this for two reasons and they are as follows-
1. They need to realize that it is actually a choice. If they continue thinking that its out of their control then it's impossible to change it.
2. Do they actually want to?
You need both of these to successfully make a change. Only once you have this can you begin to make a change.
In the film Forest Gump, you may recall he sits on a bench and says "Life is like a box of Chocolates, you never know what your going to get." I only agree with half of that statement. I would say that "Life is like a box of Chocolates, but you can look at the contents card inside which tells you what you've got and gives a choice of options." Even if you don't look at the card, that was still a choice not to look.
So once you realize it's a choice to take control and you agree you want to do so you then you take the next step.
Face your Fears?
My advice is as follows, and this comes from a Tweet I received asking about facing a fear and being scared. Don't take huge leaps in facing fears, it can set you back even further. What if I decided to face my fear and went straight in to grab that huge House Spider? It could bite me, it's not common, but it can happen and can cause a nasty infection. Either way, all my fears will have become justified in my own opinion and I may be even more scared than I was before.
So face a fear in small steps not great leaps. The goal is to overcome a fear, not to overcome a fear in the fastest time possible for an entry into the Guiness Book Of Records. If you've had a fear all your life then I'm sure you can take a few days or weeks to overcome it. More if needed. Just maintain progress in the right direction.
Start small and work your way there slowly. If there are others that share the same fear then overcome it as a group. When you do things with others you all share each individuals successes and this support drives all of you forward.
I hope this has been helpful if you suffer form a fear of any kind or if you know another person that does?