A Simple Skill to Overcome Fear in 2019
Is one of your goals for 2019 to overcome fear? Everyone experiences fear and anxiety at times, but these emotions can create significant distress. Often, people allow their fear to stop them from doing things that are important to them. We must reconcile our relationship with fear, so it doesn't keep us from living the life we desire. That's why I use one simple skill to help me overcome fear.
I have an extreme phobia of flying. I've been afraid to fly for as long as I can remember. I've tried a myriad of coping skills and therapeutic techniques to reduce my anxiety but have had little success overcoming this fear. I went over a decade refusing to get on a plane at all. I thought never flying again was the answer, but I was wrong. There was another major issue at play: my love of travel. I have a strong sense of adventure, and my quality of life suffered when I stopped traveling.
Define Your Values to Overcome Fear
One simple skill to overcome fear is to define the value or desire competing with it. Perhaps you want a promotion, but you fear the interview process. Once you are clear about your desire, you can decide if facing your fear is worthwhile. If the promotion is going to increase your quality of life and allow you to achieve your career goals, you might decide you want to confront your fear of the interview process.
That's how I convinced myself to start flying again. I defined and prioritized my values. For me, travel, adventure, and having unique experiences were high on my list of values and priorities. If I wanted to live the colorful life I desired, I had to face my fear. I decided that my love of travel and adventure was stronger than my fear of flying. I told myself if I wanted to have a life worth living, I needed to overcome my fear.
Overcoming Fear Doesn't Mean Eliminating It
I'm still afraid of flying. I wish I could tell you I found a way to make flying easy or comfortable for me, but I haven't. I still have obsessive thoughts, tons of anxiety, and I'm still subject to panic during periods of bad weather and turbulence. But here's the good news: my fear of flying no longer controls my life. It doesn't stop me from doing the things that are important to me. I'm not missing out on the life I want to live because of fear. Instead, I feel afraid, and I do it anyway. Facing my fear makes me feel powerful and even proud.
I've learned to accept the feeling of fear and work with it, instead of running from it. I know my fear is trying to keep me safe. I also know that flying is safe, despite what my fear tells me. Now I engage my fear. I thank it for wanting to protect me. I remind myself that even though I'm afraid, I am safe.
I recommend creating a cost/benefit analysis to help you decide how to respond to your fear. Write out the benefits of listening to your fear. Then write out what your fear is costing you. In another column, write out the benefits of overcoming your fear, along with the possible risks. Now you have objective information in front of you to help you decide how to move forward. I wish you success on your quest to conquer fear in 2019.
Green, H. (2019, January 9). A Simple Skill to Overcome Fear in 2019, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingablissfullife/2019/1/a-simple-skill-to-overcome-fear-in-2019
Author: Heidi Green, Psy.D.
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You bring up an excellent point about avoidance, Dr. Ferati. Often we think we are protecting ourselves by avoiding that which we fear when we are actually reinforcing false beliefs. That's why leaning into our fears to expose and desensitize us to the fearful experience is so important.
That's awesome, Heidi. Love that you're able to pursue your dreams and have a more self-expressed life, despite fear!
Thanks, Morgan. Wishing you bravery and fulfillment in 2019!