Nobody wants to be afraid and yet we all are. It’s very much part of the human condition. For most of us, that’s fine. After all, courage isn’t not being afraid, but being able to conquer those fears. The problem, of course, is that sometimes the fears become too much. And when that happens, the fears can become unconquerable.
When that happens, we might need a bit more than just somebody telling us to deal with it. Then we need to turn to science in general and neuroscience in particular. Because we’ve learned an awful lot about how to beat our fears. Now people just need to learn to apply it.
The first thing that you need to realize is what happens to fears when you don’t do anything about them. They get worse. This is because when we remember something we don’t actually remember the original occurrence. Instead, we remember the last time we remembered that last occurrence.
In other words, every time you remember something, that memory changes. When that memory is a fearful one, then there is a good chance that every time you remember it, the fear actually gets worse (it’s the same for embarrassment, anger and so on).
In other words, the longer you wait with dealing with a fear, the harder it will be to deal with it. And that’s when a fear can turn into a phobia.
At first, start out by reading and researching what you fear. According to the statistical data provided by Bestessays.review, 78% of all phobias start from simple harmless fears that haven’t been researched deeply enough and in time. There is plenty of information out there that you can look up and you can be confident that it won’t harm you. Often, fear is based on not knowing or understanding the object of our fear.
Therefore, the more we understand, the less effect it will have on us.
The second thing to realize is that when a fear gets significant enough, you don’t actually need the object of your fear for you to learn how to deal with. Let us say, for example, that you have an acute fear of spiders. Well, then just getting a fake spider or a picture of a spider will often be quite enough to raise your fear levels.
So start there. Start with exposing yourself for a short time to a picture of a spider. It doesn’t have to be for long. When it gets too uncomfortable, get away from it. Just make sure that sometime later or the next day you try again.
Rinse and repeat. Then, when there is no longer any discomfort with the object, move on to something closer to the object – like a rubber spider. Keep this up and the fear will become less. This is called habituation.
The next strategy is to take the object that causes your fear and to actually have it around you. So, if it’s a spider, have one in a glass box at the other end of the room. Then get closer to it slowly. With every step you take, think to yourself how much fear you’re feeling on a ten point scale. You’re aiming to get to about a seven or an eight. Then you stop and hold on for a while. After that, you can retreat again.
What you’re doing here is showing your fear organ (it’s called the amygdala) that you can approach the object of your fear without anything actually happening. If you do this repeatedly, the amygdala will dial down the fear of the object or thing and slowly you’ll get in control again.
We subconsciously take our cues from those around us. For that reason, being around other people that are not afraid will make it easier to not be afraid of the object ourselves. So don’t be afraid of talking with the people that you love and who you trust to help you through this.
It is also very important that you talk with practical jokers what you’re trying to do. They will often think it’s funny to use your fear to make you jump. You have to make it clear to them that when they do this, they’re sabotaging your efforts to get over the fear. This is because when you encounter the object of your fear in an uncontrolled manner, your fears ca spike and take away control.
This will then serve as confirmation to your amygdala that you really should be afraid of the object you fear, which will, therefore, make it harder to control that fear. Ask them to have respect for your efforts and to keep from trying to scare you.
Of course, if you don’t believe they will respect your attempts, don’t tell them. But then, may I suggest that you find a new friend?
As long as you are getting better, don’t push too hard. Yes, you should always be pushing yourself a little further and a little more. At the same time, if you push yourself too hard then the same thing happens as I explained above. The fear will overwhelm you and you’ll be putting yourself back.
So don’t let that happen. As long as you're still getting closer to the item of your fear and still feel like you’re progressing and letting it influence you less, you’re making progress. And that is what matters.
Because what you’re trying to do is not overcome your fears for a day, but conquer them for a lifetime.