Everyone experiences fear at some point, regardless of how confident of brave they are. According to Wikipedia, fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat. As human beings we may experience fear in response to specific things occurring in the present or in anticipation or expectation of a future threat.
When a person experiences fear, certain areas in their brain are immediately activated and appear to control the first physical response to fear. Chemicals such as adrenaline and the stress hormone are released into the blood stream causing certain physical reactions such as, a rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, tightening of muscles, increased sweating, etc. Fear is a basic survival instinct that allows us to protect ourselves from legitimate threats. Response to danger varies, it could be fight, flight (meaning escaping or hiding) or freeze (in extreme cases where the person becomes unable to think or act).
However, we may sometimes experience fear as a result of imagined or unreal danger. Stress for example is caused by fear resulting from our own thoughts about things that may go wrong or future events that may never even happen! When people remain in a state of fear for long periods of time, it becomes a health risk. Chronic anxiety and stress can contribute to a range of health problems, such as headaches, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. It may also results in procrastination, anger, despair, lack of enthusiasm, depression, hatred and other psychological problems. Such kind of fear interferes with our daily functioning and could be crippling.
How do we then deal with fear?
We have to acknowledge that fear is not always a negative thing. A small amount of fear before an exam or a speech serves a purpose – it encourages us to work harder and focus on our task. This type of fear is useful as it sharpens our minds. We should welcome this type of fear.
However, in relation to unfounded fear, we need to figure out how we’re scaring ourselves through our inner negative dialogue. I’m afraid of losing my job … They won’t like me … I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake … I’m afraid I won’t have anyone by my side … I’m afraid I won’t be able to provide for my family, etc. After doing that, you need to change the way you talk to yourself. Remember all the times in your life where you were able to accomplish what you were set out to do. Remember all the love and kindness which people around you have shown you. Remember how you successfully managed to overcome a problem. Remember how you were worried about something in the past and things turned out just fine.
Finally, a lot of our fears are self-centered fears where we are afraid of not getting something we want or afraid of losing something we already have. The best way to deal with those fears is by going past our ‘ME’ by diverting our focus to others who are in need of our help, support, encouragement or just a kind word.