8 Steps to Overcome A Fear, According to Psychology

8 Steps to Overcome A Fear, According to Psychology

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Do you need help to overcome a fear? Perhaps you’re terrified to ride in an elevator, are hiding from bees when you go outside, or you can’t stand to be in a vehicle after an accident. Fears are all around you, and according to the National Library of Medicine, about ten percent of Americans deal with these phobias daily.

No one wakes up and wants to be afraid of things they encounter every day, but sadly, it’s the reality of a relatively common problem. Some of the most common fears that therapists treat every day include the following:

•Agoraphobia – The fear of being in a public place.

•Claustrophobia – The fear of being in a confined space.

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•Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders.

•Acrophobia – The fear of heights.

When a person encounters the thing that they fear, it sends them into an anxiety attack. They may feel lightheaded, nauseous, impending doom, or feel as if they’re going to pass out. Dealing with a phobia can feel like you’re locked in a jail cell, and someone threw away the key.

What commonly happens is that a person alters their life based on their fears. For instance, the individual suffering from agoraphobia might not go to the grocery store anymore, so they order all their groceries online. The fear of being in a public place may grow to the point where they can’t leave their home at all.

Eight Steps to Overcome a Fear

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Thankfully, phobias are treatable by using eight simple steps. No, treating the condition won’t happen overnight, but you can retrain your brain to stop living in fear and get out and start living again.

Step #1: Acknowledgment

If you want to overcome fear, you must realize that the phobia you’re dealing with is irrational. The chances of anything happening to you when you get on that elevator are slim. In many cases, your fear is based on a traumatic experience that you had previously.

For instance, if you were stuck in an elevator during an electrical outage, you may recall all the worst-case scenarios you saw in movies. What if you were stopped at a red light and jamming to tunes when a car sideswiped you out of nowhere? It wouldn’t be unheard of for you to be fearful of being stopped at red lights in the future.

Now what you must acknowledge is that the red light didn’t cause your issue, so sitting in front of it doesn’t mean you’re in danger. You’re transferring the fear to the wrong thing. The fault was in the driver, not the stationary object.

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Developing a phobia based on a traumatic event is quite common. It’s a phenomenon that has stumped researchers, and they believe it can be many factors, such as:

•Genetics

•Brain chemistry

•Environmental factors

•Behavioral patterns

The cause is not really of the utmost importance. Rather, a phobia’s definition an irrational fear of a situation, person, or object. To overcome fear, you must acknowledge that it exists, and it is taking over your life.

Step #2: Define Your Triggers

Now that you acknowledge that you have a phobia, it’s time to define your triggers. What if you have a fear of being on the freeway. Does all freeway driving scare you, or is it when you go above 55 miles per hour?

Some people don’t like the expressway because going at faster speeds mean that accidents would be catastrophic. Others don’t like the feeling of being sandwiched in between many cars and knowing that they can’t quickly get out should they have a panic attack. Once you identify what triggers your anxiety, you can work on reducing the stress response to it.

Step #3: Understanding the Progression

Now that you’ve identified what triggers you, you need to understand why your body reacts and how to change the sequence. For instance, a typical phobia sequence plays out like this:

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•The phobia is triggered.

•You have a physiological and emotional response.

•You experience an unhealthy and adverse outcome.

Since you know the pattern of these phobias, you can work on changing things. The key is to change your response to a healthy one rather than a negative one. It’s common to feel your anxiety arise and have shortness of breath, dizziness, or nausea.

These are emotional responses due to an increase in the stress hormones in your body. However, you can use adequate coping skills to lessen these responses to overcome a fear.

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Step #4: Shift to a More Positive Mindset

Starting with the trigger, a counselor can help you recognize how irrational your fears are and how they can be overcome. For instance, there is nothing dangerous about being in an elevator or on the freeway. It would help if you changed your mindset about these things to create more rational beliefs.

In almost all phobias, fear is not dangerous at all; rather, people are transferring their anxiety to something that is blameless. No wonder experts call anxiety the great pretender as it makes you see and believe things that aren’t true.

Shift to a more positive mindset and push the negative responses aside.

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