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Coping with Phobias and Other Irrational Fears

Overcoming Irrational Fears

We all have things we're afraid of, but some fears can become crippling. To regain control of your reactions, try these tips for coping with phobias and other types of irrational fears.

Identify your fear. The first step to getting past your fear is to understand why you are afraid. While that may sound obvious, sometimes fear can actually be confused with other powerful emotions such as frustration and anger. It may be easy to identify the trigger for your fear, whether it's riding on a plane or talking to a member of the opposite sex. In most cases, however, the true root of the fear runs deeper. Perhaps you don't like airplanes because you struggle with losing control; maybe you have trouble working up the courage to talk to the opposite sex because you have self-doubt. To get to the actual source of your fears, it can help to talk to a counselor. Although this type of exploration isn't always easy, it can go a long way toward helping you overcome your fears.

Understand you are not alone. Very few people have unique fears, even if they seem totally irrational. When you strip away all the unique aspects, most fears center on concerns about truth, what others think, nature, death and loss. From birth, we all have some degree of fear naturally instilled within our brains. Understanding that you are not alone can help reduce the stress and anxiety that revolves around your fears. It can also remove the troubling sense of isolation and ease embarrassment, self-loathing and shame.

Surrender control. When we are afraid, we often wish we could have more control over our environments and the world around us. Unfortunately, this is not realistic. By trying to control what happens around you, you inevitably increase your anxiety since you are trying to achieve an impossible task. You can reduce anxiety by being mindful of what you can and can't do. This means recognizing your ability to cope with an irrational threat without trying to manipulate all of the variables around you. It may seem counterintuitive, but when you surrender your need for control, your fear will lose much of its power.

Accept the possibility of loss. Irrational fears are often associated with loss. Whether it is loss of face or loss of life, the fear of losing something keeps us stuck in our fear. While fear can help keep you safe, being too safe can cause you to miss out on incredible opportunities, whether it's a new, exciting experience, rewarding career or life-long love story. Instead of worrying about what you might lose by taking an action, think about what you might gain if things go right. Understand and accept that loss will occur from time to time. This is a part of life we cannot avoid. Unfortunately, when we try to avoid loss, we end up losing out on amazing opportunities and risk living sheltered, unfulfilling lives.

Be mindful. Instead of beating yourself up for not being able to get over your fears, get proactive by embracing mindfulness. By focusing on your breathing and sensations, you can learn to manage anxiety as you attempt to overcome fear. Mindfulness also allows you to escape the cycle of rumination where you play out the worst possible scenarios inside your head.

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you and your family overcome life's greatest challenges. Contact us today!