I get it. Facing our fears is tough. Scary. Overwhelming.
Some fears are quite common. Such as a fear of spiders, mice, dogs, people, heights, confined spaces, flying and thunder and lightening.
Other fears are a bit more unusual. Such as a fear of buttons or cotton. Whatever yours is, the process for diminishing it is the same.
Facing fears that scare you can feel like a daunting task. Although it takes a degree of courage coupled with a little determination you can reduce your fear and the impact it has on your life.
Everyone does things that make him or her feel anxious or scared. After you take the plunge and try something you’d rather have not done, you may find the experience wasn’t as bad as you expected.
Ready to take the plunge? Let’s do it!
Think about your biggest fear.
What thoughts and images go through your mind?
What happens in your body when you think about these thoughts and images?
How do you react?
The fight, flight and freeze response is a survival response that helps keep you safe. Your body recognizes danger and reacts accordingly to make you physically primed to do one of the following:
- Defend Yourself
- Get away quickly
When you are frightened, the body releases chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol that create changes in your body.
Think about how many of these physical symptoms apply to you when you’re anxious.
Your vision improves. Your pupils open so wide you can see more clearly even in the dark.
The hairs on your body stand on end. You’re more sensitive to your environment and appear larger, to hopefully intimidate you’re opponent.
Your heart pounds. Your heart rate increases so the main organs and muscles can work harder.
You breathe faster. Your lungs, throat, and nostrils open up so you get extra oxygen to allow your system to work harder and faster.
You go pale and feel cold and clammy. Blood vessels tighten and sweat glands open to cool down your hard-working body.
You don’t think, you just react. Decisions and judgments are pushed to the side.
Of course, when your body reacts in these ways, you want to run away as fast as your shoes can take you.
The problem with this approach? You can become fearful of things that aren’t really likely to attack you, kill you or eat you.
Fear and anxiety develop when your fight, flight, and freeze response becomes connected to something that isn’t likely to cause you the harm that you fear it may have.
Let’s tackle your fears in a manageable way.
The simple rule is this. Do the things that you’ve tended to avoid doing and not do the things you’d much rather do.
To face your fears successfully, start by gradually introducing the things you’ve been avoiding.
Here’s a two-step process.
- List the things that you’ve tended to avoid doing because they’re associated with your fear.
- Put the list in a ladder, from the least hard thing to do to the hardest thing to do.
The top item on your ladder should correspond with your goal for reducing stress and anxiety.
Now let’s work your way up the ladder.
- Start at the bottom of the ladder, with the activity that least frightens you.
- Carry out the activity. Don’t try to reduce the feeling of anxiety as you go.
- Keep practicing the activity.
- Chart your progress.
- When you feel you’ve conquered your fear, move up the latter to the next activity.
Take each step in order and don’t move up the ladder to the next activity until you’re sure you’ve mastered the previous one.
You got this!
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Loretta Holmes, MA CMHWC is an ADHD and Anxiety Coach at Bella ADHD Coaching and Bella Anxiety Coaching. Before pursuing a career in coaching, she worked as a special education teacher. Today, she combines her skills in teaching, psychology, and coaching to help humans feel like superheroes. Connect with Loretta at www.bellaanxietycoaching.com and at firstname.lastname@example.org