Everyone is afraid of something. Our fears are born from many different experiences and life events. Our fears aren’t bad for us, and they are usually there for a reason. If we weren’t scared of heights, we’d have a lot more deaths by falling and if we weren’t scared of wild animals, we’d not be nearly as careful when approaching them, once again causing casualties. However, not all fears are helpful, and if you have a phobia – an irrational fear – it could be hindering you in life and stopping you from living your life freely and to the fullest. But what can you do to minimize, or even completely get over your trauma?
Unpack that fear
Let’s firstly say that getting over a fear is not a quick nor easy process, and you’ll probably need some professional help from a therapist who can guide you through it. And the first thing you need to do is to unpack that fear and get to the root of it. If you’re scared of heights, is it because you fell from a great height and got hurt when you were younger, or you witnessed someone fall? If you’re scared of dogs, were you bitten as a kid, or was there a very aggressive dog in your neighbourhood? It doesn’t even have to be something you’ve experienced, but a story you’ve heard that stuck with you and consumed you so much that your fear grew to where it is. Unpacking that and realizing the root of the fear will help you rationalize it, which is the first step to healing.
Learn more about it
The more you know about something, the less you’ll be scared of it. This is the root in a lot of fear tactics – misinformation. If you’re scared of spiders, you probably run away from even the picture of them. But if you start to learn more about them, you will learn that they are not as scary as you might think of them. If you’re scared of death and dying, looking into the process of it and reading up on options like flexible bare cremation and other details surrounding death. If you know a lot about the things that you are scared of, it becomes normalized and in ways closer to you, making you less scared.
This is a very controversial issue, and that’s exactly why it’s important to mention. Exposure therapy is literally pushing you into the thing you are afraid of and hoping that the exposure to it will trigger your survival instincts and you will overcome your fear on sheer adrenaline, an experience you can look back to the next time you’re scared. However, exposure therapy can backfire, causing the person to be even more afraid and pushing them further back from even trying to work on overcoming the fear.
Push through it with support
One of the final stages of overcoming fear is accepting it and pushing through it. You can’t do this at the start of the journey and you can’t do it alone. You need to accept that you will be scared of it and rationalize the entire situation. And then, when you are ready to commit, try to go through your fear, with the help of someone who knows about your situation. If you are going through the process, it will probably happen spontaneously. You’ll see a spider in the corner of the room, and instead of screaming for someone to come and take it out, you’ll take a few deep breaths, call someone to help and perhaps just be next to them while they take it out, instead of hiding in the farthest corner of the room.
Overcoming fears is a process and you should never let it overtake your entire life, but you should continue to work on it – and yourself – as you go through life.