How to overcome fear?
Our brain is an amazing mechanism. Its potential continues to amaze scientists. Each time it’s as if they are rediscovering this amazing organ. The brain is capable of higher functions, achievements and accomplishments, but only a small fraction of people have truly realized themselves and unlocked their inner reserves. Those who have achieved really amazing successes are very few. What prevents a person to qualitatively use their mental functions? Read about this and much more in the book “The brain with obstacles.
The Beast Inside Us
Self-doubt has many names: lack of confidence, insecurity, shyness, low self-esteem, lack of faith in their abilities, and so on. But the rose, no matter what you call it, smells just as beautiful, and in our case it’s just as prickly. It is not a beautiful flower, but the sharp thorns of self-distrust. The flip side of confidence. Fear. Self-doubt is a fundamental barrier because it keeps us from getting started. When it’s not clear what to do, it makes us afraid. Fear blocks action and instills a sense of vulnerability. One begins to doubt one’s own abilities, cleverness, strength, success. The attention shifts from what needs to be done to self-protection, and this leads to a dead end.
How to spot a barrier
A certain barrier provokes a person’s characteristic behavior. In the case of self-doubt, it is hesitation. Primary action: you hesitate The person is ready to act, but hesitates to take a step. He stands on the edge of a springboard and thinks to jump, but does not jump. He stops moving toward the goal.
What are the signs of self-doubt?
…problems more than your ability to solve them.
You think you lack the skill, talent, or strength to meet the challenge.
…You have nothing to offer.
What you have to say has no value; you can’t influence the lives of others, give the world something good, and what you want to communicate is of no interest to anyone.
…You try your best.
You take the burden on yourself so that you don’t get overwhelmed. It seems that much in life is not available to you, so you need to moderate your appetite.
… When you want to object, you have to agree, especially at work.
Even feeling right, you would rather seem nice and compliant than confrontational disputant. You will not approach your boss about a promotion or pay raise. You won’t talk about problems. You follow all the rules, but you seem uninitiative, insecure, devoid of aspirations.
A hidden mechanism: the inability to suppress fear.
One of the most important functions of the brain is to protect the individual. When the brain notices a threat, it activates the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that controls the acute stress response, better known as the “fight or flight” response.
This ancient neurological mechanism prepares the body to act upon a potential threat. As soon as a person finds himself in a situation that might threaten his well-being, this primitive part of the brain sends signals to different areas of the body to prepare them to react. The heartbeat, blood pressure, respiration rate, sweat glands, blood vessels, bladder, and muscles all have to function so that the person either copes with the threat or can escape in the opposite direction as quickly as possible. When the brain comes to the conclusion that there is no threat, it shuts down the sympathetic nervous system, and the hyperactivity goes away.
The concept of “hit or run” was introduced in 1929 by Walter Kennon, who described with this term the reaction of animals to danger. Over time, scientists discovered a similar mechanism in humans, and it includes a chain of four possible reactions, which is conventionally called “freeze – run – hit – surrender. The first reaction is to freeze. Faced with a potentially dangerous situation, a person focuses on the stimulus and tries to figure out how to proceed.
For example, if you are walking through the woods and notice a fire, it is clear that the fire is a threat to you. You put other things aside and shift your attention to the danger. Then the reaction choice follows: fight or flight. If it’s just an unextinguished fire, you can stomp it out. If there is a raging wildfire in front of you, you will run as hard as you can in the opposite direction screaming for help.
Although the dangers have become different, the brain’s reaction has remained the same. As soon as it notices a threat, it activates the “freeze – run – hit – give up” response. When confronted with something potentially dangerous, the person freezes. Then he begins to think about what to do next. Depending on how serious the situation seems, he can either fight or retreat. And if neither can be done, the person gives up, remaining in a stupor.
If he decides that there is neither the capacity nor the resources to solve the problem, it will gradually consume the person. For example, it has become known that your company plans to downsize. You freeze, you stop and listen. What next? Get into a fight, fight? Go to your boss and find out the details? Analyze the employment contract and performance metrics to find arguments in your favor? Or maybe pick up the pace and show how valuable an employee you are? Or is it better to run away? Start looking for another job, claim compensation and prepare a claim for unemployment benefits? If you can’t bring yourself to do any of the above, “give up” mode will kick in.
How to overcome an obstacle
Self-doubt is caused by fear. It is triggered when the brain reacts to anxiety even though there is no real danger. To avoid it, you must train your brain to suppress unnecessary fears. The goal of the following strategies is to cope with fear. To turn off the automatic occurrence of fear, you must accustom yourself to this emotion. It is more likely to appear in a new and supposedly dangerous situation, and after repeatedly encountering an unusual task, the brain stops overreacting and gets used to it. In other words, if you periodically put yourself in situations that you fear the most, you can overcome the fear and overcome the barrier as a result. Coping with doubt is an increase in self-confidence. Threats are no longer terrifying, and challenges are no longer perceived as intractable and exorbitant.
Strategy 1: Don’t be modest
Advertising yourself is not easy because you are your own most nagging critic. But if you can’t convince even yourself of your own worth, others won’t succeed at all. Develop the habit of praising yourself regularly. Think of your good qualities and rejoice in them. The following three exercises should make you think of your strengths. The more seriously you take them and the more often you think about them, the more you’ll be surprised by the results. Feel free to share your thoughts with someone you trust.
Exercise 1. Write an announcement about yourself
If you’re already in a romantic relationship, write an ad that will convince your partner or spouse to go on a date with you. You know what he likes about you, so emphasize those qualities. If not in a relationship, write an ad that appeals to the person you’d like to go on a date with. Describe yourself so that he can see exactly why you would make his life better.
Exercise 2. Write a motivational letter for your dream job
Imagine preparing a cover letter in response to an ad for your dream job. This opportunity is rare and should not be missed, so try to list all the reasons why the company should make you an offer and what the benefits will be if you become their employee.
Exercise 3: Write a Letter of Recommendation
In this exercise, write about yourself in the third person. Depending on your stage in life, you could address:
a) to the admissions office and try to help the applicant (you) get into college;
b) an employer and try to persuade them to hire the applicant (you);
c) to a landlord, loan officer, business partner, or anyone else that this person (you) is trying to impress.
8 proven ways to overcome fear
Anyone can conquer their fears. Pink has selected the most effective tricks to help you reprogram your brain and become bolder.
Fear is a normal physiological reaction, necessary for survival. But it is not always justified and reasonable. You can get rid of bad thoughts and chase away feelings of anxiety with simple actions.
Feel your fear
Fear won’t go away just because you ignore it. Accepting the fear is the first step toward overcoming it. It will help to replace anxious thoughts with more rational ones. Don’t try to distract yourself. You can talk about your fear out loud or write it down on paper. The key is to focus on what’s scaring you. When you try to ignore the fear, it increases. Conversely, if you acknowledge it, the fear becomes less. Psychologists at the University of California have proven that discussing negative emotions helps conquer fear. They offered people who are afraid of spiders to touch a live tarantula. The more emotional the participant’s story was after the experiment, the sooner they got rid of their fear.
Explore the object of fear
Fear of the unknown is one of the most powerful. Try to learn as much as you can about what scares you. For example, if you have a fear of flying, compare accident statistics for different types of transportation, learn the basics of how an airplane works, and look up the meaning of certain sounds. Try watching in real time how many planes take off and land every minute in different parts of the world. It is also helpful to read the stories of people who have been able to overcome the same fear you have. Drawing on this knowledge, make a list of arguments that confirm the groundlessness of your worries. The next time you want to calm down, you can turn to your “stock of counterattacks” and use facts, not assumptions.
Give up bad thoughts.
When we are afraid of something, our imagination draws the most unpleasant versions of events. Try to shift your focus and replace bad thoughts with positive ones. If you’re walking past a large, growling dog, don’t imagine it getting off its leash and lunging at you. Instead, focus on the fact that the animal is tightly bound and will not be able to get to you. At the same time try to act as naturally as possible. It is possible to imagine a situation which causes you pleasant memories. With such a technique, you will send your subconscious mind a powerful signal that its “excessive” emotional reaction is unnecessary, because nothing unusual is happening to you.
To quickly overcome fear and relieve anxiety, start breathing slowly and deeply. This will increase the flow of oxygen to your brain. As you inhale, mentally count to seven, and as you exhale count to eleven. It is possible to use other figures, the main thing is to accent on an exhalation. It must be longer than the inhalation. When breathing in, the nervous system is activated, and when breathing out, calmness and relaxation occur. By controlling one’s breathing, one controls the symptoms of anxiety. Calming breathing also works if you only think about an upcoming event that causes fear. In addition, meditation, yoga, healthy sleep, a balanced diet, and walks in the fresh air are good ways to combat anxiety.
Fears can be based on childhood trauma, painful past experiences, or a rich imagination. Try to understand where your fear came from, what situations trigger an attack, and what its symptoms are. It may be difficulty breathing, increased sweating, redness of the face, trembling. Try to rate your fear on a ten-point scale. Good help in coping with fear are questions directed to yourself. How realistic is the threat that scares you? What should you do to avoid undesirable developments? How bad can you feel if the most unpleasant fears come true? The more you know about your fear, the easier it will be to control and overcome it.
Think of a plan of action.
Visualize your fear on paper. If you’re worried about it raining outside on your wedding day, write out the specific consequences that scare you. Unexpectedly, you may find that fear itself as an emotion is actually worse than anything you fear. Most fears are irrational and irrational. They keep us in one place and make us give up interesting opportunities. Think ahead of time about your plan of action in case the fear comes true. Write out the specific steps you will take to adapt. This way, gradually the fear will become less, and you will feel calmer and more confident.
Overcoming fear is helped by gradual and repeated interaction with the object you are afraid of. Fear of flying starts with regular trips to the airport. Then one moves on to studies on special simulators. The final stage is short flights. If fear is associated with a particular type of activity, the best way to get rid of it is to practice. Those who are afraid of phone calls need to start calling more often. Try to make an appointment for a manicure and make restaurant reservations over the phone instead of through the site. If you’re worried about fear of public speaking, practice your speech in front of loved ones or in front of a mirror. Soon you’ll notice how the barriers that once held you back will begin to disappear.
Find a support group
Surround yourself with people who can help you overcome your fears. Swedish researchers at Karolinska Institutet have proven that watching your fear not cause other people to panic is very helpful. If you watch someone do what you fear over and over again, the fear may recede. The brain updates its knowledge of danger based on how we feel. For those who are afraid of heights, it is helpful to talk to a skydiver or bungee jumper. They can talk about the positive emotions they experience while in the air. Sometimes friends can provide the necessary support, even if they have no experience in dealing with the fear that is bothering you. For example, children often do something scary just because they do it with friends who “push” them.
Talk to a specialist
The ways described above are effective for fighting only a mild form of fear. In case of phobia, the fear is strongly pronounced, uncontrollable and does not give way to a full logical explanation. It leads to disadaptation and can be accompanied by nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath and fainting. If you cannot get rid of obsessive compulsions, work through the problem with a qualified specialist. Depending on your particular case, we recommend seeing a psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist.