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  • Writer's pictureSamantha

Letting go of fear

Fear is one of the most disabling emotions; it can stop you from moving forward. In moments of fear, you forget about everything around you, and it can be paralysing. Emotions are heightened and you can’t move forwards. Not all fear is negative, this emotion has kept us safe for centuries. Fear is an emotion that signals a potential threat – if you are in a situation that suggests a potential danger.

An acute fear response can keep you safe. Examples could be if you feel like you are being followed or are out on a walk in the country and you see a snake. You will suddenly notice your body starts to react, it kicks off a physiological response, adrenaline starts pumping, your heart rate increases, and you can become sweaty or clammy. This is known has the fight/flight response. Your body is reacting to what is going on around you and considering the best form of action. Should you stay and fight or is it better to run away?

Our ancestors relied on this type of response to keep them safe, there were many dangers. The weather, predators, and the need to survive. Today in modern life we lead much more comfortable lives.

So how do we manage these responses?

Today the fight/flight response is no longer about survival it often arises due to high levels of stress and anxiety. The body can be triggered during situations which pose no threat. This causes the flight/fight response to be falsely activated.

Today, fear often holds you back. Thinking about modern day fears they are often based on our fear of failure, of not being good enough or of rejection.

I have recently gone through this myself. I have worked for the NHS for 28 years; I retrained as a counsellor and have been wanting to move forward into full time counselling for a while.

I kept finding excuses not to make the change. What if I failed, what if I’m not good enough, imposter syndrome among some of my own fears.

I went into “freeze mode” I procrastinated over my decision, convincing myself of why I did not want to make the change, and convincing others I did not want to make the change. Deep down inside I could feel the inner conflict, and this was making me feel physically ill and emotionally exhausted.

“Fear can keep us locked up in the prison of the comfortable and the predictable” - Tony Robbins

How do we manage our own fear response?

1. Face your fears: the more we avoid a situation or a fear the bigger it becomes and the scarier it feels. Think…what’s the worst thing that can happen? How can I manage this?

2. Make time for yourself to destress: this gives you time to think and switch off

3. Talk to someone: when you share your fears, they are less of a burden and can offer a differing perspective

4. Be in the moment: instead of focusing on the fear of the future of making a mistake, focus on the present and what you are doing right now

5. Celebrate what you have achieved: look at all the small steps you have made instead of projecting too far forward. Taking the old saying “Rome was not built in one day”. If we think too big it becomes overwhelming.

6. Breathe: when you start to feel overwhelmed and panicky just take some time to slow yourself down and control your breath.

The most important message is that everyone has fears, its how you manage those fears that makes the difference.

Get in touch to discuss how I can help you manage your response to fear.


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