Whether you’re afraid of spiders, elevators, airplanes, or anything else, the sensations can sometimes be downright debilitating. Whether we refer to them as phobias or fears, they destroy our quality of life when faced with them. Here are some ways you can get a handle on those things that bring you dread.
Recognize where the fear comes from:
All fears can be traced to our past, usually someplace in our childhood. Something scared us and in that moment it was forever embedded in our mind. When confronted with the same situation again our subconscious dredges up the old memory and all of those old feelings that went along with it. As children we overreact and feel things deeply, which is why our fears are so strong when they resurface—your experiencing it all over again just as if you were a child! Fear is our reaction to feelings of insecurity. By acknowledging this we can at least put it into perspective and begin working to overcome it.
Whether you share your greatest fear with a close friend or family member, or if you decide to see a professional counselor about it, getting your phobia out into the open often lessens its severity. Monsters always appear bigger when the room is dark, and so do our fears. We feel silly for being afraid of jumping into a pool or seeing a spider scurry up the wall, so we keep it to ourselves and do our best to avoid such confrontations. But, by talking to someone about it, and what you feel the original situation was that caused the fear, you’re well on your way to overcoming it.
This isn’t easy to do, but by facing your greatest fear and getting through it, you can ultimately desensitize yourself. This works the vast majority of the time and it’s worth trying. Let’s say you’re afraid of jumping into the deep end of a pool. The first day you may want to sit on the edge and dangle your feet into the deep water. The next day you could slide down off the edge and into the pool. The following day you can jump into the shallow end, with each subsequent day jumping in a foot or two deeper, and so on until you finally jump off the edge into the deep end. Before you know it, you’ll be able to jump off the diving board!
Fears are so deeply embedded into our psyche they can’t possibly go away over night. Give yourself time and slowly build up immunity to the phobia. Trying to do too much at once may backfire on you and undo any positive changes you’ve already experienced. Like the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, “Slow and steady wins the race.”