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Kick Fear to the Curb

Taking back control of your life from fear involves resolving your fears and conquering them. Our minds condition themselves to be fearful. In most cases this is a protective strategy designed to keep us alive and safe. Sometimes, these fears are irrational and can impede our ability to function normally. Our anxiety and fear takes control over us and dictates our behaviors. We might begin to avoid activities associated with the fear, reinforcing our brains conditioning to fear these activities. This becomes a vicious cycle which can become disabling.

In daily life, not everyone becomes immobilize by their fears. However, we may develop and condition ourselves to smaller things, and do not realize the impact they have on our lives. A person is fearful of failure and so they don’t take risks at work. A manager is insecure and so afraid of not being liked by his employees that he is unable to effectively manage his employees. There are many ways fear can interfere with the success of our daily lives. 

You are in control of your own happiness; don’t give fear control over you.

There are 5 steps to overcoming fear that can be useful in any situation. They can be universally applied to any aspect of your life if you take the time to understand your fears. This understanding removes the power and control that fear has over you.

Step 1 Acknowledge the Fear and Self-Doubt

AA had it right when it said, “admitting you have a problem is the first step”. Acknowledging that you have fear is the first step to overcoming it. Often people will minimize it, or disguise it by saying, “Oh I didn’t want to do that anyway”. People will call it nervousness, anxiety, or anything else to avoid saying fear. Admitting that you have fear means admitting a weakness, and it takes a strong person to admit that they have a weakness.

Step 2 Quantify the Fear

List your fears and rate them. Are you afraid of heights? Is this fear as significant as your fear of commitment? Assign your fears a value and then prioritize them. This is the order of accomplishments that you plan to achieve.

Step 3 Imagine the worst case scenario

This is my favorite activity. So often people are afraid to make a move, take a lead of faith, or any significant change because their fear is “what if it doesn’t work?” Well think about the worst case scenario. Is it really that bad? Is it the end of the world? For example, Marie has been working in a dead end job for years now. She is miserable and knows that leaving will make her happy. She is afraid to leave her job though because if her new position doesn’t work then she will be in trouble. The worst case scenario is that she loses her new job, she can’t pay her bills, and she loses her house. The idea of this terrifies Marie, and has paralyzed her for years. But this horrible situation is not the end of the world. Marie has family and friends who will be there to support her and help her get back on her feet. Yes, this will be a difficult setback for Marie, but it does not define her or who she is. And at the end of the day it is not the end of the world.

Step 4 Prepare, Confront, Conquer

Now that you know what the worst case scenario is, prepare for it. Prepare for the events that paralyze you into inactivity. Make preparations to ensure this cannot happen or make preparations in the event that it does happen. Either way you are ready and prepared for the worst case scenario. By doing this, you have taken control away from your fears. Without the worst case scenario looming as a threat, you are free to confront your fear.

Step 5 Celebrate

You have conquered your fears. Now you can focus on your happy thoughts! 

Sounds easy right? The most difficult step to overcoming fear is to deciding you are ready to conquer the fear. Through planning of your approach, understanding how you can remove the “worst case scenario” and preemptively establishing effective coping skills, any fear can be overcome. I have worked with many clients who wanted to conquer their fears and seen great success! Remember, you can do anything you put your mind to!



Till then, continue “Discovering Your Own Way”…

 

– Dr. Brennan

 

Webb, W. (2004). Five steps for overcoming fear and self-doubt journey into present-moment time.Carlsbad, C.A.: Hay House, INC.

Kick Fear to the Curb


Michele L. Brennan, Psy.D.

Dr. Brennan attended Rutgers University, and graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology. She also completed a Master of Arts in Psychology at Pace University. Upon completion, she began a doctorate program at Argosy University completing a Master's of Arts and Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology. Currently, she is an adjunct instructor for a community college, co-founder of the non-profit organization Little Hands International, and developing her own psychology clinic. Trained in the Practitioner-Scholar model, Dr. Brennan works with clients using empirically supported techniques such as CBT, ACT, and BFST. She specializes in treating anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorders.


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APA Reference
Brennan, M. (2014). Kick Fear to the Curb. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 16, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/balanced-life/2013/06/take-back-your-life-from-fear/

 

Last updated: 25 Aug 2014
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