Some fears are reasonable and helpful. Other fears are unreasonable and harmful. First, one must understand the difference and, second, one must learn how to banish those that are irrational. Here are seven guidelines.
How To Overcome Fear, Guideline One: It is reasonable and helpful to have a healthy fear of things like fire, tornadoes, falling out a window, sharp objects, thieves with weapons, and so on. When fears merely guide us to be careful they serve a positive, protective function. Any fear that becomes debilitating, however, needs fixing. If one panics in the presence of a knife, open window, or flame on a kitchen stove, even those basically normal fears have become too extreme. How can you overcome these hurtful and limiting fears?
How To Overcome Fear, Guideline Two: Understand the source of irrational fears. They reside in the subconscious or Deep Mind. We aren't aware of its activities. It acts not by logic but by correlation – if A occurs before B then A probably caused B. Occasionally that is true. Often it isn't. The Deep Mind can't tell the difference; in fact, it is fully unconcerned about how logical a connection may be.
How To Overcome Fear, Guideline Three:When some hurtful or unpleasant occurrence takes place after a particular event or in the presence of a some person, object, or place, the Deep Mind is likely to form a correlation. When that setting event occurs again the subconscious must send your conscious mind a message (called a directive) to become fearful. Perhaps a child gets startled or pummeled by a dog and understandably becomes upset. The Deep Mind may establish a correlation between dogs in general and the need to be afraid. When that happens (and sometimes for the rest of ones life) that child will feel great fear in the presence of dogs.
How To Overcome Fear, Guideline Four:The subconscious mind is so powerful that when it sends a directive, we have to act according to it. For instance, when the Deep Mind has created and holds a fear directive we will continue to experience fear in whatever context the correlation reflects. To get rid of a fear one needs to get rid of that specific fear directive. That may take specialized training from a professional but there are some things you can try first.
How To Overcome Fear, Guideline Five: There is a process called Gradual Accommodation that often helps. You set up situations in which you begin experiencing the problem (fear producing) stimulus from a distance such that the event (or person, etc.) does not produce fear. For example, perhaps you watch dogs in a park while you are safely secured inside your car. The process involves gradually confronting the object of fear in tiny steps. You might take a second step as simple as watching those dogs with the car window opened, then the door opened, then standing along side the car, then sitting on a nearby bench and so on. Don't move on to a next step until you feel no fear. Your eventual goal will, perhaps, be to be able to actually pet a dog. Gradually you accommodate to the fear producing object. Be patient.
How To Overcome Fear, Guideline Six: Another approach could be called the Face Down. You just swallow hard and expose yourself to the feared object or person or situation. Find a dog known to be gentle, for example. Approach it, watch it, touch it, pet it, sit and hold it. The fear will initially well up inside you. In this process the idea is to feel the fear leave as you come to understand the situation no longer requires you to be fearful. (Not suggested for children.)
How To Overcome Fear, Guideline Seven: There are counseling methods that teach one how to overcome fear in short order and which have long lasting effects. The typical talk therapies have a very poor track record when it comes to helping people quickly and permanently learn how to overcome fear. The so called conditioning or desensitization therapies work best.
Try the two procedures suggested here first. If they are not successful for you contact a counselor. Be sure to inform him or her that your major need is to find out how to overcome fear and that you understand there are programs that can manage that in one or two sessions.
By: Tom Gnagey
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Tom Gnagey is an educator, psychologist, social philosopher, and writer. He has practiced clinical psychology for 30 years. For information about his successful, proven, self-help and personal growth program, Deep Mind Mastery, go to www.TomsBookNook.com or more specifically www.TomsBookNook.com/DMM.html