Dealing with Fear
Everyone has to deal with fear. What is your biggest fear? Lucinda Basset writes in The Solution: Conquer Your Fear, Control Your Future that there are common responses that represent fear. Consider the following list and evaluate if these common responses are part of your life (Bassett, 2011). These include fear of:
- Being alone
- Losing control
- Enclosed places
- Death and dying
- Becoming like my mother
- Never finding my soul mate
- Losing the people closest to me
- Becoming mentally incapacitated
- Becoming sick
In this list of common responses, you will either experience one of two different types of fear that will determine your actual danger level in any situation.
A rational fear operates from reason. It is logical, which creates the basis that will eventually lead to right action.
The second kind of fear, irrational fear, defies reason and is therefore illogical. Although irrational fears feel real and dangerous, they are not based in reality and therefore have a slim chance of ever occurring.
A good example of an irrational fear is the very common fear of flying. People need to understand, that the perceived fear of flying is not valid. Commercial flights are the safest methods of travel available. Did you know that?
- You are twice as likely to die from a bee sting.
- You 19 times more likely to die in a car.
- You are 110 times more likely to die on a bicycle.
- Your chance of dying in a tornado is 1 in 150,000.
- Your chance of dying on a commercial plane is 1 in 10 million.
One of the dangers of not dealing with irrational fear is what Bassett refers to as “secondary gains.” For example, I can’t take this new job because what if I get anxious? What if I fail at this audition and make a fool of myself? Now, you may think you are off the hook because, in your mind, you have given yourself an out. Secondary gains produce negative benefits. Take a look at the list of secondary gain you may get by holding onto fear. Then take a look the positive benefits you can achieve by facing fear and moving forward from fear.
AVOIDING PAIN. Facing pain is sometimes the necessary action to get us back on the right track. Maybe we are afraid to end a relationship or quit a dead-end job because of the anticipated pain. However, it is sometimes more beneficial to feel the fear and do it anyway. The anticipation is always worse. Facing the pain will give you the strength to face pain when it comes around again. As a result, you will be making conscious instead of fear-basing decisions.
AVOIDING CONFRONTATION. People pleasers and those with low self-esteem avoid confrontation. When fear helps, you avoid confrontation, you may look like a good person, but you will often feel like and then begin to act like a victim. Sometimes to escape from the secondary gain, you must learn to practice being assertive.
AVOIDING FAILURE. “If you refuse to take risks or confront failure, you are allowing fear to control your life. If you haven’t failed much in life, you haven’t risked much” (Bassett, 2011, p. 84). Fear of failure will minimize the potential of success.
AVOIDING CHANGE. Many people avoid change because they are stuck in a comfort zone. It is possible to thrive in change and the chaos that discomfort produces. Make it your goal to press the wall of fear and revel in the rewards of change.
AVOIDING HARD WORK. Often we are afraid of the cost and have the fear that the cost will be greater than the reward of hard work. If your subconscious mind does not want to work harder and give up more time, your fear may start making decisions for you. Be honest with yourself and evaluate your long-term goals. Make a priority of reaching for those goals by embracing the fear you feel as you take the steps necessary to reach those goals.
AVOIDING ANXIETY. When try to avoid anxiety we are avoiding the inevitable. Anxiety will always be part of the process of making decisions. It is what sharpens us to make decisions. Whether we make a good or bad decision depends on how we handle the release of chemicals in our brain due to an anxious-causing event. Your goal should not be to avoid anxiety, but to face it and control it.
The bottom line is this. If I have bought into the belief that your fears will protect me and keep me safe in my controlled, predictable, safe world I have bought into a lie. I can make a choice to go beyond my self-imposed limitations and living a life of courage and adventure, exploring new possibilities and horizons. Rather than ignore, suppress, deny, and run away from my fears; I can choose to see them as benevolent guides and signposts that inform and direct areas of my life that need to be healed and integrated. It is always better to face our fears then to avoid them. Healing and survival comes from pressing through the anxiety and pressure that fears brings to our lives.
Bassett, L. (2011). The Solution: Conquer Your Fear, Control Your Future. New York:
Sterling Publishing Company.