Taking Steps to Overcome Fear

14801522_sThis blog was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Leslie Kolb, ASW.

Now that it’s October, you’ll probably be inundated with all things Halloween—spooky ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, vampire bats—you know, the things that go bump in the night. Often, we can enjoy the little jolt of fear that comes from scary movies or haunted houses. But what about other parts of life that make us feel fearful? In the spirit of the season, this month we’ll be discussing ways to manage our own fears while still being productive.

What goes bump in the night for you? Are you afraid you may lose your job? What about losing your partner? Or is it something less tangible, like fear of commitment or confrontation? Sometimes fear can feel paralyzing and make us believe there is no good course of action. But fear can also provide an opportunity by allowing you to see for yourself how brave you are, or how much you are capable of accomplishing.

Later on this month we’ll discuss some more specific fears that many of us often experience, but for now let’s focus on steps we can take to manage fear. As we often discuss in our blog, the first step to managing fear is to be able to identify it and acknowledge it. For example, what if your friend or partner asks you to ride a roller coaster? You might not even be aware of your fear until faced with it. Once you can identify the fear, you can find ways to overcome it.

Next, you can explore what created the fear for you in the first place. Perhaps you had a bad experience on a roller coaster, or you fell from a tree and hurt yourself when you were younger. What do you imagine could happen as a result of riding this roller coaster now? Do you imagine the seatbelt failing? Or do you imagine the cars derailing? If you can begin to understand the root of your fear, you can take steps to move through it.

After identifying the root of your fear and acknowledging that it exists, you can take steps to surmount it. What is the outcome you desire? Using our roller coaster example, your desired outcome would be to ride the roller coaster with your friend. To move toward that goal, you might want to ride a kiddie roller coaster to get used to the sensations without the height. Or perhaps you could watch the roller coaster move through its course a few times to gain an understanding of what to expect. You can dictate the speed and intensity of the steps you take. This can help you feel more in control of your fear, and empower you to push through it.

If you have something in your life that makes you feel fearful, take a little time this week to think about the root of that fear, and what you might be able to do to overcome it. Remember: without fear, there cannot be bravery. You might surprise yourself with how brave you actually are.

Elana Clark-Faler
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