Some amount of fear is required for survival. Fear keeps us alive and cautious. But when this fear become excessive and starts interfering with our day to day lives, then it has to be dealt with.
Fear is not always negative. If a person is in the middle of an earthquake he should be afraid for his life. If someone’s child is in danger, the person will be afraid. There are numerous such examples when there is fear but it doesn’t mean that people have to get paralyzed by that fear. Fear prepares the body for fight, flight or freeze response which is important for survival. Caution comes from a place of fear. There are many shades of fear- caution, care, avoidance, negligence.
And hence fear is an important emotion.
A child knows ‘No’ fear but with experience and learning he is taught to fear certain things for protection and survival and that is required. But slowly generalizations may occur and the fear may get generalized to something that was neutral earlier.
So we need to determine 2 things when we are afraid
1. Whether the fear is a natural response or an excessive response.
2. Where does the fear originate from – it originates mostly from our past experiences.
What can we do?
- Telling ourselves that the present situation can be handled differently will help. Reminding ourselves that the present situation is different from the past situation. Looking at the differences in situations rather than similarities will help.
- Distinguishing between fear arising from caution, care or avoidance is important. For e.g – Fear of getting run over (Fear arising from caution) makes us follow traffic rules while crossing. Fear of losing a loved one (Fear arising from care) makes us fear for her safety and take certain precautions as a result. Fear of confronting a person who may be harm us (Fear arising from avoidance) makes us avoid that person.
- Avoiding generalizations will help. Just because last time you had a rough ride in the car doesn’t mean that you will have a rough ride in bus, train, plane as well.
- Recognizing when your fear is becoming excessive and calming yourself with deep breathing and a reality check will help.
Fear is not a problem, phobia is. Psychotherapy and EFT can help.