How to Manage Your Fears and Live More Freely

by | Aug 8, 2018 | Healthy Living, Habits for Growth

How to Manage Your Fears and Live More Freely

Fear is an emotion that evolves as we go through life. When we’re young, we fear imaginary threats: darkness, monsters, the boogeyman. As we grow into adults, we learn not to be afraid of these things. We like to think we’ve outgrown these childhood demons, but ironically, they’ve only been replaced by new fears.

What is fear?

Fear is the emotional state of discomfort that manifests when we believe that danger is imminent. Like anxiety, fear is an innate emotional response humans are programmed with to protect themselves from harm.

Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing wrong with feeling afraid. We encourage each other to approach life with a sense of fearlessness, but the truth is, fear is a completely natural human emotion that is integral to our survival. Fear is what teaches us to pay attention to our surroundings when we’re in a new place; it’s what keeps us from living with a reckless abandonment that could lead to physical harm. In short, it’s logical to be fearful of physical threats. It’s when we lose the logic that we run into trouble.

One of the traits that separates animals from humans is our ability to make logical decisions. Take birds, for instance. Birds have instincts that tell them to flee from anything that may cause them harm, whether the threat is real or not. Humans, on the other hand, can evaluate danger in the moment, and use logic to determine if flight is necessary. Oftentimes, however, we use fear as a protection mechanism for our insecurities, pride, and ego, rather than as a response to a viable threat.

When fear goes unchecked, it disrupts our potential for joy by keeping us caught in a cycle of self-betrayal and trepidation.

Many times when we experience fear, we are not in any physical danger; we’re only remembering the pain of past experiences. We fear intangible things, like having our heartbroken, failure, or feeling rejected after being open and vulnerable with others. Negative experiences keep us stuck in the past, and we dread the repetition of those bad experiences so much that we close ourselves off to life. We take fewer risks, we put up walls, and we guard our hearts. In short, fear that is meant to protect us from harm, actually causes more damage and perpetuates our suffering.

While fear is a natural and universal emotion, we must not allow it to control our lives. Here are three considerations for managing fear in a healthy, productive manner:

Managing Fear, Tip #1: Acknowledge your fears

A big mistake lots of people make is trying not to be afraid. Many of us associate fear with weakness, and we put immense amounts of pressure on ourselves and our loved ones to “toughen up.” While our intentions may be good, stifling your fears only causes them to build up under the surface; you never truly get over them because you haven’t given yourself the chance to confront them. Take your power back by allowing yourself to feel your feelings.

Bravery is not the absence of fear, but having the courage to act in spite of it.

Managing Fear, Tip #2: Assess the logic behind your fears

We often let our imaginations blow things out of proportion and get carried away, exacerbating our fears in the process. For instance, if we have a bad break up, we may declare that we’ll be alone forever, or that we’re incapable of being loved. In a moment of emotional buildup, these thoughts might seem valid, but when we allow the emotion to pass, we can see that they’re often dramatic.

Ask yourself, is this fear based on a real threat, or a story I’ve constructed in my mind?

If you find yourself being consumed by a fearful thought, try the following journal exercise. Write a list of fears, or some of the things you imagine going wrong–be as exhaustive as possible. Then, once you’ve taken the fears out of your brain and gotten them onto paper, reread your list. You’ll notice that much of what you’ve written will seem far-fetched upon reading your list aloud. Take your pen and eliminate all of the thoughts that are based on assumptions instead of facts. For example, “people rejecting me and not liking me,” or, “being a failure.” Instead, remind yourself that you can not know whether people like you or not, nor do you need to worry. Be willing to release your fear and insecurity. Similarly, if you can name even one accomplishment you’ve made–no matter how small–you’ve now proven that you are not a failure. Writing our fears down on paper not only forces us to acknowledge and confront them, but it also helps us to de-sensationalize them. Then these thoughts can be transformed into something new and helpful.

Managing Fear, Tip #3: Learn to live with your fears

In her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, author Elizabeth Gilbert writes: “If you can’t travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.” The truth is, some of the greatest, most fulfilling moments of your life are on the other side of fear.

Fear can be an indication that you are on the cusp of something new, something grand, something exciting. Lean into the cusp.

It will be scary and uncomfortable, but remind yourself that big risks often yield bigger rewards. You don’t have to eradicate your fears, but you do have to learn to cohabitate with them.

The key is not to be fearless, but to feel the fear, and persist nonetheless.

When you allow yourself to be controlled by fear, you inhibit your own expansiveness and elevation. If you’re constantly haunted by the past or anxious about the future, you emit a low-vibration, which only yields more of the same. To attain a higher level of peace, and power, learn to manage your fear as it comes. You’ll thank yourself, and others will be grateful towards you for being just the inspiration that they have been needing.

IS FEAR HOLDING YOU BACK IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS OR CAREER? Book a phone consultation with Dr. Logan Jones today at 646.798.8354.

Dr. Logan Jones is a psychologist and performance coach based in New York City. He works with clients to relieve themselves of the burdens of fear, and take full advantage of the present for the benefit of their personal and professional lives.

Dr. Logan Jones is a psychologist in New York City. He utilizes a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and insight-oriented psychodynamic therapy. His approach helps New Yorkers relieve symptoms and gain new insight.

No matter what you’re going through, whether depression, anxiety, or PTSD, there is hope. If you are looking for therapy in NYC his psychotherapy practice is located in central Manhattan near Flatiron, West Village, NoMad Chelsea, or Union Square.

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