Essence of Fear and fighting back! Part 1

Essence of Fear and fighting back! Part 1

Fear of Flying.

I have been fortunate enough to have flown all my life from the tender age of 9 months old. I have never had a bad experience flying in my 24 years on this planet. However, I experienced my worst ever flight coming back from holiday in August last year and now I’m absolutely petrified.

So this year, I decided I would not let my fear hold me back and go on holiday again. This time I armed myself with herbal remedies to calm my nerves. This didn’t work. Even though I had an okay experience it was a bit rocky, I was a nightmare to be around. For those two hours I was on edge and my body was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Coming back to the UK was the worst as we were going through a thunderstorm. Even writing this article about it is making me nervous.

I have tried various different methods on trying to deal with this fear. Fear is such a natural emotion its basic instinct of flight or fight. It does amaze me how it changes in me all the time. In some circumstances where I have had pure fear such as the other week I heard someone downstairs, I grabbed the baseball bat and went down to face my fear. So my natural reaction in that instinct was to fight. Thankfully it was just the cat which knocked something over. Whereas other circumstances I freeze and want to run and hide this made me wonder why?

Fear in Recruitment

In recruitment, I am always dealing with people’s fear of change. As something new is scary. However, would you rather be unhappy for the rest of your life staying in the same place and have never had the guts to try something new? I am always showing people the light at the end of the tunnel. Change is needed to grow and as you grow you develop yourself and drive positivity all around you.

With all the recent depressing news around us what is wrong with grabbing that chance of happiness. Life if too short for be sitting down and wondering what if? Or saying in your 60’s “I should have done that”.

In recruitment I am always been given peoples CV’s, I see them as a path of people’s lives shown before me, like a blueprint or a map. Some make positive moves forwards and others not so much. However, they are always willing to embrace change. Life is full of unopened doors and paths to walk down, may it be dark and dangerous or fun and fulfilling, you will never know until you try.

Every day there is someone trying to face there fear, be it a fear of change, a fear of spiders we all have our own personal nightmares. So how do you overcome them?

Phobia

If you have a phobia, you probably realize that your fear is unreasonable, yet you still can’t control your feelings. Just thinking about the feared object or situation may make you anxious. And when you’re actually exposed to the thing you fear, the terror is automatic and overwhelming.

The experience is so nerve-wracking that you may go to great lengths to avoid it — inconveniencing yourself or even changing your lifestyle. If you have claustrophobia, for example, you might turn down a lucrative job offer if you have to ride the elevator to get to the office. If you have a fear of heights, you might drive an extra twenty miles in order to avoid a tall bridge.

Understanding your phobia is the first step to overcoming it. It’s important to know that phobias are common. Having a phobia doesn’t mean you’re crazy! It also helps to know that phobias are highly treatable. You can overcome your anxiety and fear, no matter how out of control it feels.

What is Fear?

Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles, among other things, also known as the fight-or-flight response. The stimulus could be a spider, a knife at your throat, an auditorium full of people waiting for you to speak or the sudden thud of your front door against the door frame.

The brain is a profoundly complex organ. More than 100 billion nerve cells comprise an intricate network of communications that is the starting point of everything we sense, think and do. Some of these communications lead to conscious thought and action, while others produce autonomic responses. The fear response is almost entirely autonomic: We don’t consciously trigger it or even know what’s going on until it has run its course.

Top Tips of overcoming fear?

1) Face your fears, one step at a time

It’s only natural to want to avoid the thing or situation you fear. But when it comes to conquering phobias, facing your fears is the key. While avoidance may make you feel better in the short-term, it prevents you from learning that your phobia may not be as frightening or overwhelming as you think. You never get the chance to learn how to cope with your fears and experience control over the situation. As a result, the phobia becomes increasingly scarier and more daunting in your mind.

2) Exposure: Gradually and repeatedly facing your fears

The most effective way to overcome a phobia is by gradually and repeatedly exposing yourself to what you fear in a safe and controlled way. During this exposure process, you’ll learn to ride out the anxiety and fear until it inevitably passes.

Through repeated experiences facing your fear, you’ll begin to realize that the worst isn’t going to happen; you’re not going to die or “lose it”. With each exposure, you’ll feel more confident and in control. The phobia begins to lose its power. Successfully facing your fears takes planning, practice, and patience. The following tips will help you get the most out of the exposure process.

3) Climbing up the “fear ladder”

Make a list. Make a list of the frightening situations related to your phobia. If you’re afraid of flying, your list (in addition to the obvious, such as taking a flight or getting through take-off) might include booking your ticket, packing your suitcase, driving to the airport, watching planes take off and land, going through security, boarding the plane, and listening to the flight attendant present the safety instructions.

Build your fear ladder. Arrange the items on your list from the least scary to the scariest. The first step should make you slightly anxious, but not so frightened that you’re too intimidated to try it. When creating the ladder, it can be helpful to think about your end goal (for example, to be able to be near dogs without panicking) and then break down the steps needed to reach that goal.

Facing a fear of dogs: A sample fear ladder

Step 1: Look at pictures of dogs.

Step 2: Watch a video with dogs in it.

Step 3: Look at a dog through a window.

Step 4: Stand across the street from a dog on a leash.

Step 5: Stand 10 feet away from a dog on a leash.

Step 6: Stand 5 feet away from a dog on a leash.

Step 7: Stand beside a dog on a leash.

Step 8: Pet a small dog that someone is holding.

Step 9: Pet a larger dog on a leash.

Step 10: Pet a larger dog off leash.

Work your way up the ladder. Start with the first step (in this example, looking at pictures of dogs) and don’t move on until you start to feel more comfortable doing it. If at all possible, stay in the situation long enough for your anxiety to decrease. The longer you expose yourself to the thing you’re afraid of, the more you’ll get used to it and the less anxious you’ll feel when you face it the next time. If the situation itself is short (for example, crossing a bridge), do it over and over again until your anxiety starts to lessen.

Once you’ve done a step on several separate occasions without feeling too much anxiety, you can move on to the next step. If a step is too hard, break it down into smaller steps or go slower.

Practice. It’s important to practice regularly. The more often you practice, the quicker your progress will be. However, don’t rush. Go at a pace that you can manage without feeling overwhelmed. And remember: you will feel uncomfortable and anxious as you face your fears, but the feelings are only temporary. If you stick with it, the anxiety will fade. Your fears won’t hurt you.

Learn relaxation techniques

As you’ll recall, when you’re afraid or anxious, you experience a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and a suffocating feeling. These physical sensations can be frightening themselves—and a large part of what makes your phobia so distressing. However, by learning and practising your breathing you can become more confident in your ability to tolerate these uncomfortable sensations and calm yourself down quickly.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and muscle relaxation are powerful antidotes to anxiety, panic, and fear. With regular practice, they can improve your ability to control the physical symptoms of anxiety, which will make facing your phobia less intimidating. Relaxation techniques will also help you cope more effectively with other sources of stress and anxiety in your life.

Challenge negative thoughts

When you have a phobia, you tend to overestimate how bad it will be if you’re exposed to the situation you fear. At the same time, you underestimate your ability to cope.

The anxious thoughts that trigger and fuel phobias are usually negative and unrealistic. It can help to put these thoughts to the test. Begin by writing down any negative thoughts you have when confronted with your phobia. Many times, these thoughts fall into the following categories:

  • Fortune telling. For example, “This bridge is going to collapse;” “I’ll make a fool of myself for sure;” “I will definitely lose it when the elevator doors close.”
  • Overgeneralization “I fainted once while getting a shot. I’ll never be able to get a shot again without passing out;” “That pit bull lunged at me. All dogs are dangerous.”
  • Catastrophizing. “The captain said we’re going through turbulence. The plane is going to crash!” “The person next to me coughed. Maybe it’s the swine flu. I’m going to get very sick!”

Once you’ve identified your negative thoughts, evaluate them. Use the following example to get started.

Facing My Fear

There are various different ways in which to deal with fear. I personally tried to face my fear of heights on Sunday at Que Garden’s. I went on the “Treetop tour” which would enable me to see beautiful views. I could see it was very high up and my whole body was saying “NO!”. So I walked up the stairs instead of the see-through lift and got to the top. The floor was made of mesh and I didn’t feel very safe up there and I could see straight to the bottom. So I held onto the side and said to myself “I can do this, I can do this, I will be fine, I will be fine, and I’m 100% ok”.

I must have looked insane but I needed to calm myself. So I started walking and looked around me at the beautiful views the greens of the trees and the great views in the distance. I was less on edge, however there was one point where there was a circular viewing point to each bit I wasn’t prepared for the mesh to dip in quite dramatically, I honestly thought I was going to fall through, I thought I was going to have a major panic attack and start crying. I stopped and controlled my breathing “ I can do this, I can do this, I am 100% ok”. I carried on and was proud of myself and facing my fear, it was a step forward.

Flying

I have tried the steps above to face my fear of flying. I have bought Paul McKenna’s book as well “flying confidence”. I have been listening to it once a day. I will not let this fear control me, I will fight it with everything I have got. I have booked a fight for November for my birthday, I will let you know how it goes.

So what are your fears? How do you deal with them? What works for you?

Abigail Pike

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