By David Joel Miller.
Ways to overcome your fears and anxiety.
Fear and anxiety are terrible roommates. They can take over your life and make you miserable. Anxiety is like some nasty monster lurking about your life controlling your destiny. Fear is a bully whispering in your ear all manner of negativity. The more you try to ignore your fears, pacify them by avoiding all the scary things, the more they take over your life.
If you have decided that you are tired of letting your fears and anxieties control your life then now is the time to get this relationship with your fears under control. Like an annoying relative, you may not be able to cut your anxieties out of your life altogether, but you can set up some new rules and take back control of your life. Here are some ways to tame the anxiety monster.
Accept the fear, recognize it is in the room.
Hiding from your fears will not make them go away. Neither will trying to run away. You can’t get rid of fear by hiding. Drugs, alcohol or other distracting behaviors will only make matters worse.
Take a good look at this fear. What does it look like? How is this interfering with your life? Consider how your life would be different if you listen to the fear less. You can’t work on a problem until you recognize it.
Name the fear – what are you really afraid of?
Think about this fear. What is it really? Fear of flying? Or is it fear of crashing? Flying happens way more than crashing. Fear of snakes? Or fear of being bitten by a snake? Maybe even fear of being bitten by a poisonous snake. Snakes are not real interested in biting you, not unless you look like a meal. They will run if they get the chance. They may even hiss or rattle to scare you away. The biting happens when you don’t recognize the snake for what it is and wants until after the bite.
What does your fear really want from you? Is this outcome something you will accept rather than live the life you want?
Some fears are protective and some are not.
If someone is shooting at you be afraid and take cover. Fear, in that case, is trying to protect you. But if you hear a car door slams down the block and your fear sends you running for cover, this fear is far bigger than the real danger.
Just because it scares you does not mean there is a danger.
Being afraid of your shadow is more than an expression. Many of our fears and anxieties in adult life are fears left over from childhood when we were smaller and more helpless. Reevaluate those fears. Are they valid today in the world you are living in?
You may need an objective opinion to evaluate the risk.
When you are frightened the whole world looks scary. It can help to talk about your fears with an objective person. Sometimes you know already that your fear is excessive. It may even be keeping you from having a life, talking to a professional can help you get past the fear.
Being perfect is not possible.
Are you afraid to make a mistake? Are you worried that others will judge you and think you are incapable? Not taking action will guarantee the result you fear. There are no perfect people. Everyone makes mistakes. No one hits a home run every time or wins every contest. Letting fear keep you out of the game will prevent what could have been. You will not get 100% of the jobs you do not apply for.
Don’t go around collection others fears.
Fear, like misery, loves company. If you grew up in a fear filled home or live with someone who is full of fear then you may have been infected by others fears. If you are struggling with other people’s fears, return that fear creature and get the refund of your life back.
What would be better if you did not have this fear?
When you stay focused on the fear you miss out on the other possibilities. Ask yourself what would be better if you did not have that fear. Act as if that fear was already gone and as you move towards the thing you used to fear you will see it shrink. Anxieties bully people, tell that bully no.
Avoid comparing up.
One way to keep anxiety a part of life is to constantly compare yourself to someone who has more than you. This “comparing up” results in a lot of depression and anxiety. You are not as famous as that person you saw on the awards show. You do not have 152,000 friends on social media like that other person. If you keep comparing up you will start feeling bad about yourself and magnify your fear of not measuring up.
Most people ignore their successes and collect the memories of their shortfalls. This is precisely the wrong approach. Make sure that you recognize your life’s good times. Pick those happy memories up and hold onto them. If you do not save successes you will lose count of them and then your inventory will look like all you have ever had were failures.
Sneak up on the fear. Systematic desensitization.
You can conquer that fear or anxiety using a process called systematic desensitization. I have written elsewhere about this process. The trick here is to approach the fear as close as you can and then hold that position. If you begin to experience feeling the fear and yet nothing bad happens the fear will move away. Keep this up and you can stretch your comfort zone and reduce the circle that fear stays in. Eventful that fear will come to serve you not the other way around. Working with a professional on this process can pay great rewards.
Build a fear-busting team. Support system.
Fears are much scarier when you have to face them alone. One of the best ways to tackle life’s problems is to develop a good support system. You need to surround yourself with people who can stand with you when you face this fear down.
Which of these fear busting tools are you going to try?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books