Facing Our Fears and Worries
There is a lot of fear around the coronavirus and this is on top of all the issues, all the things that create fear for us. One fear is the unknown when we have gaps in information, we try to fill the gaps, our mind gets busy trawling through our internal references. I’ve been interested to eavesdrop on some of the conversations as I have queued outside the supermarkets lately, people creating their own headlines, their own horror stories.
This is natural, we are inquisitive by nature and we want to feed and satisfy our curiosity, uncertainty is unsettling so we put a stake in the ground to denote our chosen outcome, our belief, at least then we can put that particularly worry or fear down and move on the next one.
Let’s remember, fear is subjective and covers a huge scale.
A basic level let’s take roller-coasters, even those of who love them it’s because of the thrill, the fear invokes, some of will ride one reluctantly and realise we enjoy the experience but some people will never and some even would not go in a theme park that had a roller-coaster.
Snakes, I see clients who cannot look at a picture of a snake.
I want to stay on this point for a moment because of that subjectivity. When your partner, child, sibling, colleague, or friend has a fear, it’s real, so please ask yourself if exposing someone to something that scares them is really of good ethical entertainment value because you’re reinforcing their fear. Remember however obscure or deeply we might repress it, we all have at least one fear.
It’s important to remember also that some of our fears are learned, that is to say, we see and hear how other people react to certain things and we copy their behavior and response. Take spiders, few of us have actual physical contact or incident with spiders but we are still afraid, look at the obvious size difference, but we have this seemingly irrational fear. The language we use conjures scary images when someone says there’s a huge spider in the bathroom, huge compared to what?
I have spoken before about locus of control, how some of us have an internal locus of control and feel we are where we are so to speak through our own actions and efforts, but those with an external locus of control, the people who feel regardless of anything I do I have no control over the outcome of my life, these people are likely to feel more fear, lack of control can create fear.
We access our memories of possible outcomes and fear one of these coming to pass, strange though how we don’t recall all the times we have just get a check-up and leave, no problem. To me it’s an issue of association, I love the dentist, I think good oral health, I associate the dentist with positive outcomes.
Some fears however can be long -term leaving us with a sense that we never overcome them. They can affect our lives, our ability to sleep and rest, and our appetite and ultimately our health. They stop living our lives fully and at their worse can leave us afraid to leave the house.
A reminder here that we have this inbuilt response to fear and threat, we have it for one good reason, to keep us safe.
Facing Our Fears and Worries
So how might we cope?
1. Acknowledge your fear. This is different from accepting it and saying I have to live with it.
2. Try to put the fear into some context – is the problem imminent or in 2 days, 2 weeks 2 months’ time.
3. If it’s not imminent then remind yourself of that.
4. Remind yourself that the outcomes are possible scenarios, we don’t always look at all of them and some are not facts.
5. Do some CAREFUL research, be mindful of where you look and consider alternative views/opinions/data.
6. The above lends itself to this, learn about yourself and your fear keep a record of when it happens and what happens, what the trigger is, and also what happens to you, thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
7. Distract your mind, take some exercise, listen to music, immerse yourself, and your mind into some activity.
8. Watch your alcohol, intake, yes it can initially make you feel calmer or give you some Dutch courage, but the after-effects may make you feel worse.
9. If you have a specific fear or phobia, like spiders, I wouldn’t suggest signing up for “I’m a celebrity”. Flooding is an option but a lot of therapists prefer gradual desensitisation.
Remember we need some fear to keep us safe, we have it for a reason. Fear does not have to interfere with your happiness or limit your life even. So, acknowledge it, talk about it. sometimes we need to disconfirm what we think but avoiding our fears does this opposite. If you need further help it is available, there are hundreds of therapists out there ready. Visit my web site.
© Facing Our Fears and Worries