Everyone has fear in their lifetime. Fear is a natural response to danger and everyone responds to fear differently. Legitimate fear can benefit us in protecting ourselves from a legitimate danger, but there are fears that can cripple us from moving forward.
How FEAR can benefit or cripple us.
There are two different types of fear:
1. The fear that can benefit us
This fear is based on a real/tangible threat of danger, like natural disasters, e.g. the bush fires that many Australians sadly experienced, floods, volcanic eruptions, etc. Others experience physical, emotional or mental fear, for instance, those who live in fear of their abusive partner, or of past difficult life experiences, e.g. abusive upbringing, trauma, childhood trauma. There are also places that are not safe because of the level of criminality or political tensions. Some are facing terminal illnesses and fear of physical pain and death, etc. At the moment the world is facing the fear of COVID-19. If you don’t feel fear in these above situations, you won’t be able to prepare and to protect yourself and your loved ones in and/or from these situations.
2. The fear that can cripple us
This fear is not necessarily related to a present threat of danger, but instead is often the result of a build-up of scenario and tensions in the head. It can be based on past experiences, but feels as if it is happening in the present time. This fear can lead to extreme reactions, which is called “triple F” (freeze, flight and fight), which can often cripple you as you won’t be able to face or avoid the challenges, and therefore missing the opportunity and benefit from dealing with the challenges. For instance, isolating yourself from socialising because you think others will judge you, or lashing out in anger towards someone who said or did something that triggers your past experiences with others, or making a judgment and reacting towards someone who perhaps having a similar build or smell or look with the person whom you have struggled with in the past.
What do I need to do then?
- Assess your fear – whether it’s a legitimate one or not.
- Differentiation – most of the time we look at the similarity when we fear someone or something. Learn to see the differences between what you experience now with the past, e.g. what are the differences between the person you are struggling with now compared to the person in your past – their look, their build, their face, their hair colour, their personality, the situation you are in now and the past, the present context and the past one, etc.
- Face your present challenge – Ask someone you trust to help you
- Seek Professional Help – if your fear is too big and you struggle to cope, seeking Professional help is worth doing.