It’s time you faced your demons

Don’t let your fears and phobias get the better of you

When you are afraid of something the most natural thing to do is to avoid it. But the problem is, when you avoid the thing or things that you’re scared of, you empower your fears and hold onto them forever.

The sources

Phobias are usually triggered by a traumatic or negative event, which then becomes a bad memory and neural association.

You may have had a genuinely traumatic experience that could have scared or even harmed you, like being bitten by a dog or being stuck in a lift. What happens is that the mind learns to associate danger and your fight or flight response to a specific, thing, object or situation.

The second cause of phobias is a secondary-learned experience, this mainly happens in childhood but not always. Say your mother has a fear of cockroaches and you see your mother screaming at the sight of a cockroach, soon you will learn to associate cockroaches as a sign of danger, and the seeds of the fear are sown.

We can also think ourselves into phobias. For example, if you keep playing images of a plane crashing before you catch a flight or if you watch a film about a plane crash, you could create a fear of flying before you even get on the plane.

Ways to overcome

Our mind is a powerful tool, we all have the ability and inner resources to overcome our fears and phobias. The following tricks can help you deal with and overcome your phobias:

  • Visualisation: One thing all successful people do whether it is deliberate or natural, is visualisation, and it will help you calm your fears before you face a challenging situation or the feared object. Imagine yourself in a difficult situation or think that you are facing the feared object feeling calm, relaxed and in control. Engage all your senses, describe what you can see, hear, smell, feel and recreate them in your mind.
  • Gradual exposure: If you are afraid of elevators, tackle your fear in stages. Use the visualisation techniques to calm down before each stage. First, imagine yourself entering a building which has a lift, conjure the image of a tranquil place in the mind until you begin to relax. Now, walk up to the doors of the lift and repeat the process, and the next stage when you feel ready is to step into the lift and then finally use it.
  • Face your fears: To overcome your fears at some point, you will need to face them. The thing with fear is that the more you try and resist it, the more intense it becomes. Don’t fight it, don’t even attempt to stop it. Recognise the fear for what it is. It is just some unpleasant feeling and sensation. The only thing that keeps your fears active is avoidance. You must stand up to the fear, embrace it and let it pass, allow the feelings to carry on, practice letting the emotions just flow through you and away. Give yourself permission to feel fearful, let your mind know it is OK if you feel a bit fearful or anxious.
  • Get real: Gain perspective into your situation and separate reality from fantasy. Realise that life will go on, and you’re not going to die from the fear that is troubling you. Any drama you make up in your head is merely that — drama. It’s usually made up, scripted, and based on an experience that you’re attaching to current reality. It’s not true, and it has no power over you.
  • 20 seconds of courage: This is one hack which will change your life. Think of everything you could accomplish if you forced 20 seconds of bravery on your primitive mind just three times a day. Whenever you come face to face with your fear, just force yourself to look your fear in the eye for just 20 seconds, you can’t imagine how this will multiply your chances of overcoming your fear.
  • Habituate yourself to fear: By exposing yourself to whatever you fear, it loses its power and control over you. The thing that was your greatest detriment becomes your greatest strength. In an extreme sense, think about how teenagers glued to their X-Boxes are transformed into war-fighting machines in the battlefields. When the bullets are flying, and bombs are exploding, they’re running at the bullets and bombs, which is the opposite of how the brain works. How did this happen? It’s called boot camp, that’s how. In a boot camp, soldiers are exposed to a tremendous amount of stress and a constant overload of fear to the point where they don’t fear anymore.

No matter what it is that you fear, if you literally just submerge yourself in it for long, the illusion of fear will eventually go. Expose yourself to the activity or activities that you fear, and in 90 days, you’ll no longer fear it.

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