Approximately 2.5 million years ago our Stone Age ancestors were facing some very dangerous perils, most of them mortal perils, if they weren’t cautious enough. Therefore it was very important for the Stone Age people to be protected by an instinct that helped them to identify potential dangers and to become aware of the peril they might be facing. This instinct was fear and it helped them to stay alive. What is fear? Fear is an instinctual response of a human being towards potential danger. It releases adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone) into our blood stream and helps us survive extremely dangerous situations.
As time passed by the dangers that humans had to face reduced, but the fear remained as an instinct within every human being. Nowadays we don’t have to fear to be attacked by wild animals (unless we life in the jungle, desert, etc.), so compared with our Stone Age ancestors we life an extremely luxurious life and are not facing similar mortal perils day after day as they did. Normally we could life a completely fearlessly life, but something strange happened with the instinct of fear: it “evolved” in a negative way; it adjusted to our modern lifestyle. People nowadays fear spiders, snakes, cats and dogs, are afraid about upcoming exams and exam nerves during these tests, others are afraid of being in a room of claustrophobic proportions and yet others are afraid of their difficult professors or bosses. All these “modern fears” and phobias have one thing in common: they are not dangerous for us, if treated with respect.
For a Stone Age person fear was a highly important instinct that helped him to survive (back then: fear = survivor), but for us it is just an emotion that paralyzes us, if we are not facing a dangerous situation (nowadays: fear = failure [in everyday life]). So it is very important to realize that the fears we are facing in our daily lives are thousands of times more harmless than the potential dangers we would have to face some million years ago. A spider might be disgusting but when compared with a sable-tooted tiger it looks really harmless.
How to get rid of our fears?
So how can we fight our fears? By facing them! Facing your fears can be a real challenge, but the rewards for facing fears are astounding. You feel energized and refreshed once you looked you fear in the eyes and vanquished it. It is the realization that fears cannot stand in your way to live a happy life what allows you to face fear after fear, once you started.
How to face your fears?
- Reality check: Some fears are unnecessary and can have negative influences on our performance, such as exam nerves, whereas other fears are very important for us to survive! Therefore it is advisable to make a reality check whether one of your fears is important for you to stay alive (rational fear) or if it is just one of those anxieties that reduce your life quality and your performance in different situations (irrational fear).
- Identify the fear: Before you can face you fear you’ll need to identify what it is exactly that you are anxious about. Most people know exactly what their fears are, so I will keep this point brief.
- Facing your fears: Fear is an instinct of every human being, so no one of us was born without it. Even the most adventurous and courageous person has had similar fears and anxieties that everyone else has. The difference lies in the fact that this person had the courage to face his fears and learned to control them, instead of being controlled by the fear! Everyone of us comes to a point in life where we must decide to either run away all life long from our fears or to realize that we have to face them to get rid of them. There is no other possible solution when it comes to fear: either you try to run away from it and let fear interfere your whole life or you make the conscious decision to face your fear. Don’t be one of those that gives his anxieties and fears the permission to stop himself from becoming an successful person that lives his life to the fullest!
- Make a commitment: Do you remember the last time you made a spontaneous commitment, only to realize when the date for this event came closer that you had some second thoughts or even anxieties about it? That’s great! That is exactly how you start facing your fears! Make a spontaneous commitment and then just do it, without thinking. When you start thinking about all the different consequences of something, before accepting the challenge you will never ever do it! Make a spontaneous commitment and then stick to it!
- Enhance the level: When facing your fears it is advisable to slowly but steadily enhance the level you confront yourself with a fear. This helps you to remain motivated to overcome your fear as you will some important sense of achievements, when you start to confront yourself with your fear on a low but continuous rising level. If you are afraid of heights or flying you shouldn’t immediately sit yourself into the next airplane to Europe (unless you have a lot of courage and want to get rid of that fear within a few hours). It would be better to start with a climbing crag; you could also climb some climbing walls, go hiking in the mountains or spend some time at an observation platform or at the top of a huge building in your area. When you feel yourself comfortable (especially when you start to realize that you are not in danger) you can steadily increase the confrontation with your fear until you overcame it.
- The “aha moment”: Once you successfully faced a fear and were able to overcome this anxiety you will feel tremendously excited about it and you will start to realize all the benefits of your willingness to face your fear!
Remember that you cannot run away from most of your fears, as you will have to face some of them most certainly. The decision whether you are prepared for this situation is up to you. It is the decision between being able to control fear or getting affrighted and paralyzed by it, with all positive or negative consequences.
Live your life awesome! Don’t let yourself getting interfered by unnecessary anxieties and face whatever you fear in life!
Photo by Zephyrance
Have you started facing your fears or are you still struggling with confronting them?