“According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19 million people in the United States alone suffer from mental illnesses that involve irrational fear responses. These disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Clear the Fear
Do you ever feel paralyzed by fear?
Fear to change yourself, your career, your relationships?
Fear to try something new?
Fear of failure, loss or even what people might think of you?
Yes, everyone experiences fear to some degree, but not everyone uses fear as a stepping stone instead of a stumbling block.
Making Fear a Friend.
At the end of this article our goal is to provide you with tangible tools to:
1. Accurately define what Fear is and what Fear is not.
2. Understand Clinical Data about Fear and Successful Studies how to Overcome Fear.
3. Exercises to help you Clear the Fear from a negative obstacle into a positive opportunity.
Are you Born with Fear?
By definition, everyone experiences fear. “It is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger.” Fear is a necessary survival mechanism in all human beings.
Anxiety- is future-oriented fear because we cannot control what will happen next.
Panic- is becoming intimidated by something that reminds a person of their fear, creating an alarm response.
Physiological changes in the body associated with fear, the “fight or flight” response, can include:
Rapid heart rate
Increased blood pressure
Tightening of muscles
Good Fear VS Bad Fear
Good fear serves a good purpose. For example, if you have to give a major presentation to a group of professionals at your place of work, fear can motivate you to sharpen your skills to practice and deliver an excellent presentation.
Bad Fear is when fear becomes irrational and excessive, it can become crippling and instigate a cascade of destructive feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
Name a personal experience of Good Fear and Bad Fear below:
“In the 1920s, American psychologist John Watson taught an infant to fear white rats. “Little Albert” had no fear of the laboratory’s test animals. He showed joy at the sight of the white rats especially and always reached out for them. Watson and his assistant taught Albert to be terrified of white rats. They used Pavlovian (classical) conditioning, pairing a neutral stimulus (the rat) with a negative effect. Whenever Albert reached for one of the rats, they created a terrifyingly loud noise right behind the 11-month-old child. Not only did Albert very quickly learn to fear the white rats, crying and moving away whenever he saw one, but he also started to cry in the presence of other furry animals and a Santa Claus mask with a white beard.”
“Like Little Albert’s fear of white rats, a person’s fear of dogs is most likely a conditioned response. Perhaps he was bitten by a dog when he was three years old. Twenty years later, the person’s brain (the amygdala in particular) still associates the sight of a dog with the pain of a bite.”
Clearing the Fear
Fear extinction is creating a positive conditioned response that counteracts the negative fear response, usually involving exposure to an outside stimuli. However, scientists have discovered ” stimulating a protein called NMDA (N-methyl D-asparate) in the amygdala can enhance fear extinction.”
Identify a fear you want to eliminate and re-frame:
Kerry Ressler, associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University is studying the biology of fear. And the impact of a neurotrophic factor known as BDNF. “We’re studying how the biology of the brain is changed by the environment, and how these changes underlie memories and experiences.”
Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones
The Prevention magazine article “What are you afraid of?: 8 secrets that make fear disappear” offers these tips for dealing with everyday fears:
- It doesn’t matter why you’re scared.
Knowing why you’ve developed a particular fear doesn’t do much to help you overcome it, and it delays your progress in areas that will actually help you become less afraid. Stop trying to figure it out.
- Learn about the thing you fear.
Uncertainty is a huge component of fear: Developing an understanding of what you’re afraid of goes a long way toward erasing that fear.
If there’s something you’re afraid to try because it seems scary or difficult, start small and work in steps. Slowly building familiarity with a scary subject makes it more manageable.
- Find someone who is not afraid.
If there’s something you’re afraid of, find someone who is not afraid of that thing and spend time with that person. Take her along when you try to conquer your fear — it’ll be much easier.
- Talk about it.
Sharing your fear out loud can make it seem much less daunting.
- Play mind games with yourself.
If you’re afraid of speaking in front of groups, it’s probably because you think the audience is going to judge you. Try imagining the audience members naked — being the only clothed person in the room puts you in the position of judgment.
- Stop looking at the grand scheme.
Think only about each successive step. If you’re afraid of heights, don’t think about being on the fortieth floor of a building. Just think about getting your foot in the lobby.
- Seek help.
Fear is not a simple emotion. If you’re having trouble overcoming your fear on your own, find a professional to help you. There are lots of treatments for fear out there, and no good reason not to try them under the guidance of someone with training and experience
Accepting fear is part of the human condition, being able to identify good fear from bad fear, understanding the science behind the cycle of fear, and what you can do to reframe your fear to work for you, instead of against you, is all possible for you with a little help from your friends.
Love and Blessings,
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”