Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

Overcoming Fear

I think most people are familiar with the famous saying of "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Unfortunately, this saying is not exactly accurate. The actual quote is "… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…" by Franklin D. Roosevelt during his 1933 inaugural speech.

At first, this quote seems incorrect, because people are seldom afraid of fear itself. Instead, people typically fear other people, animals, things, ideas, or unusual circumstances (such as looking down from a high altitude or being in a dark room). I believe this famous quote is concerned with overcoming the inaction that fear causes, instead of tackling the root cause of the fear.

Obviously, there is a lot of confusing concerning fear. However, understanding where fear comes from is the first step in overcoming it.

Fundamentally, fear is psychological in nature. Whether this fear is from physical harm or from mental pain, it is quite real and can manifest itself physically or cause inaction. For instance, the fear of physical harm can include being afraid of being injured in a car accident, robbed, or attacked; therefore, some people might travel less often. Examples of psychological fear can include, but not limited to, being afraid of clowns, losing a loved one, or the loss of one's own life in the future can be quite terrifying. This is somewhat ironic, since fear is the mental anguish of psychological pain, thus compounding the psychological impact.

The second step with overcoming fear is recognizing what makes you afraid. This is typically obvious, yet can have hidden layers of complexity. For instance, you can be afraid of clowns and bright clothing. Realizing how different fears are related can be a major milestone.

The third step is to rationalize why you are afraid of something. For instance, what instance in your past has made you afraid it? Is your fear logical? Is your fear only emotional? Is what causes this fear still in your life?

The fourth step is convincing yourself that you need to overcome your fears. Ask yourself, why do you need to overcome this fear? Do you really need to? Can you live with yourself otherwise? Would your life be better if you overcame your fears?

Next, make a commitment to yourself to overcome your fears. This may seem easy, but it is often not. Treat all fears as a real addiction that needs serious commitment to overcome.

The next step is to find a friend who is willing to help you and who is preferably not afraid of what you are afraid of. Ask this person to help you to overcome your fears in the next step. Some people have even used support groups, such like addiction groups.

The final step is to face your fears. For instance, if you are afraid of heights, then go up into a high (and safe) building. You do not need to immediately tackle the most extreme parts of your fear immediately, such as going to the very top floor and looking down from the balcony. Instead, first go to height that you are reasonably comfortable with, then slowly increase what floor that you are on throughout a period of several days. The gradual familiarity of facing your fears will one day overcome your fear entirely. This may require a lot of courage, so this is where your friend's help may be necessary. Eventually, you will be able to look down from great heights with no effort.

In conclusion, fears are a serious matter and overcoming these fears requires a commitment, careful attention, and a steady dedication facing your fears.

by Phil for Humanity
on 01/05/2009

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