Taming your fears

Everyone experiences fear at some point in the life. For some people fear can be overwhelming or out of proportion to reality.

Avoiding fear is part of the problem

When people have fears, they usually try to avoid the thing or situation that makes them fearful. If you fear spiders, exams or going outside, you'll avoid these things as much as you can.

Avoiding fearful situations becomes part of the fear. As long as you keep avoiding it, you will also keep feeling scared. You end up in a cycle of avoidance and fear. You can break the cycle.

Approaching fear is the solution

To tame your fear, you need to experience it deliberately and fully. You need to practice being exposed to it. The aim is to focus on how it makes you feel - emotionally and physically.

Exercise 1: imagine the experience

Arrange to have a friend with you for this exercise.

Imagine yourself experiencing the thing you are scared of. Try to imagine all the undesirable consequences of being in the feared situation.

Concentrate on the fear and the feelings you are having. Focus on that rather than on the thing you are afraid of or your wish to escape.

Tell your friend how you are feeling. Describe your emotions and any physical sensations. Keep talking and describing the fear until you get bored.

Exercise 2: experience the real thing

Again, organise a friend to help you with the exercise.

This time, put yourself in the situation you fear - don't just imagine it. You might need to do this in steps.

As soon as you start to feel the fear, stand still and concentrate on your feelings. Describe them to your friend. Keep talking until you get bored.

Next, walk closer to the thing you fear. When you start feeling the fear again, stop and focus on your feelings. Again, describe them to your friend. Keep talking until you get bored.

Repeat this several times.

Practice daily

Try one of these exercises 2 or 3 times each day.

Any time you feel a wave of fear, do notavoid it. Let it come and focus on feeling it. Try to make it bigger, to experience it more fully. Describe out loud how you are feeling.

It will not hurt you to try

For many people this technique works well. Sometimes it does not work, but it will not hurt you to try it.

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