I used to be afraid of the dark. Maybe I still am. Every night when I flick off my light, I tear across the room and dive into my bed. For some reason, if there was some diabolical being present, it can’t touch me if I’m under the covers. Go figure.
Nyctophobia is fairly common, yet I’ve met people with more diverse fears. One is terrified of raccoons. Another’s is of masks. We know that our phobias are irrational, yet I still won’t walk slowly to my bed, and my friend doesn’t leave the house on Halloween. Here is the best way to overcome fears that are stunting us from enjoying life.
Fright Then Flight
This is our usual response. That has got to change.
First of all, know that anxiety disorders are very common. The National Institute of Mental Health found 18% of the adult population fall under this category. Approximately 9% of adults have a phobia of some kind. So we are not alone.
If your anxiety is on the minor side, there is a very good chance you can cure yourself without professional help. Just follow this guideline.
That’s right. To overcome your fear, you have to face it. For example, my brother had a fear of heights. He was determined to conquer it, so he went to an amusement park and rode on the roller coasters. This method is not recommended for everyone since such an experience can cause shock and possibly worsen your anxiety.
So don’t just leap into a pool if you suffer from hydrophobia. Start small and work your way up.
For instance, if you have arachnophobia, begin looking at pictures of spiders, graduate to videos of spider, then sit next to a spider in a jar.
The steps you take all depend on your end goal. If you decide to overcome the fear of public speaking, your goal can be to deliver a lecture before an audience of hundreds, or it can be speaking your opinion by board meetings.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Don’t choose steps that barely stimulate your phobia. Rate yourself from one to ten. One being totally relaxed. Ten being a panic attack. Your steps should bring you to a four on the spectrum. Let yourself feel scared until you are desensitized to the fear.
For me, sitting in a dim room would keep me at a calm number one. If I were alone in the complete darkness, that would shoot the anxiety too high. Yet sitting with a friend or family member in a dark room would raise my stress levels but not too much. Eventually, the person would leave the room and talk to me from the other side of the door. The step after that would be for me to be entirely alone.
Sometimes we don’t have the proper tools to do exposure. If someone has a fear of flying, no airport will let them sit on a plane for hours to overcome their anxiety. It’s the same for someone who has a phobia of boats with no access to one.
This is where the imagination comes in. Visualize yourself in the situation that terrifies you and you will feel a spike in your anxiety level. With consistent practice, this method can desensitize you and enable you to face your fear in real-life.
If your anxiety prevents you from functioning in your daily life, you may want to consider professional guidance. Many people with similar stress disorders never deal with their fears, and their careers and social groups are stunted as a result. This suffering is not for you.
Anxiety does not have to be a chronic condition. It is very treatable with the array of techniques therapists have at their disposal, from a range of biofeedback to virtual reality exposure therapy
Imagine yourself reaching your goal. Close your eyes and see yourself stronger, more capable, being able to withstand the very thing that haunts your nightmares. You can do this. This picture can be you. Don’t be hesitant to step out of your comfort zone for this short time to overcome your phobias.
Your future life awaits.