Mar 30, 2022
How to Get Rid of Excessive Fear
Though humans fear and suspect one another, they build trust and cooperation through social practices. Through actions such as hugging, caressing, smiling, bowing and shaking hands, a human being conveys to the other person that he means no harm.
The fear of others is the most evident form of fear in human beings. When a baby is just six months old, it displays fear when it sees strangers. Even blind children are known to possess the feeling of fear. They can detect the presence of strangers with the help of their sense of smell, it seems. At about one year of age, children are known to become fearful of their surroundings. An infant cannot tolerate even the slightest separation from its mother. It is a known fact that children who grow up without their mother’s protection tend to get frightened easily. By nature, all humans experience fear. Similarly, even countries that are friendly with one another maintain a constant state of vigilance as far as their military preparedness is concerned. They may smile outside, but they are filled with fear inside.
Though humans fear and suspect one another, they build trust and cooperation through social practices. Through actions such as hugging, caressing, smiling, bowing, greeting, and shaking hands, a human being conveys to the other person that he means no harm. As a social being, the social bonding between humans is hinged on such acts.
Unfounded fears are commonly referred to as phobias. Some common phobias are listed below:
• Social Phobia – Fear of society
• Agoraphobia – Fear of open, crowded, and other places at a height
• Acrophobia – Fear of height
• Thanatophobia – Fear of death
• Pyrophobia – Fear of fire
• Ophidiophobia – Fear of snakes
• Astrophobia – Fear of natural calamities
• Dementophobia – Fear of insanity
• Amaxophobia – Fear of vehicles
• Cynophobia – Fear of dogs
• Algophobia –Fear of pain
• Hypnophobia – Fear of falling asleep
• Monophobia – Fear of being alone
• Anthophobia – Fear of flowers
• Phonophobia – Fear of loud noise
Both genetics and the environment play a part in the development of phobias. It is observed that some individuals are genetically more predisposed to developing excessive fear. A study carried out by Dr. Watson, a behaviorist, revealed the influence of the environment on the development of abnormal fear. Dr. Watson gave a white rabbit as a pet to his child. The child placed the rabbit on its lap and started playing with it. One day, when the child was approaching the rabbit, Dr. Watson made a scary noise, which made the child shake with fear. Dr. Watson repeated the act the next day also. Over time, the child started shaking with fear as and when it saw the rabbit. Thereafter, the child was scared not only of the white rabbit but also of other white-colored objects. This means that a person who gets conditioned to experiencing fear in a particular situation can become fearful in other situations that resemble the former fearful situation.
A person might have had a terrible experience with another person. He may find it difficult to work with a third person who has a facial resemblance to the person with whom he had a bad experience. A lady who has developed a hatred or fear of a man because of some bitter experiences usually starts hating all men.
Phobias create complex problems for many individuals. They are filled with fear and anxiety and become introverted. Some people have the capability to overcome the phobias they have. A person who feels uncomfortable when in a crowd may gain the ability to move along with the same crowd.
People who have thanatophobia will live with anxiety and fear. They can overcome this fear and lead a happy life. Many people who were once scared of public speaking have gone on to become great speakers. The situations that scare individuals when they are teenagers need not scare them in their youth. The fears they experienced in a particular situation may not reappear when they are exposed to the same situation.
However, it is not easy for everyone to overcome their fears. They often try to avoid situations that cause fear in them. People who suffer from complex phobias are often scared of nightmares. They carry on in life without talking to anyone about their phobias.
A phobia that alters the behaviour of a person is social phobia. Individuals suffering from this phobia often stay away from social interactions. They become anxious when they find themselves in a crowd. Meeting and speaking to strangers causes a lot of distress for them.
Systematic desensitisation, a behavioural medicine technique developed by Dr. Joseph Wolpe, is helpful in eliminating phobias in people. Wrong beliefs harboured by distressed minds can either be corrected or eliminated when a person is in a relaxed state.
Through creative and positive thinking, misconceptions or wrong beliefs that are being harboured by a person can be eliminated. Some people are scared of certain things. They cause distress to themselves by nurturing their negative thoughts. There are also people who are reluctant to communicate with others. Some others experience a lot of discomfort when speaking to their bosses. Such people benefit from systematic desensitisation therapy.
The first step is to identify and write down a list of situations that cause negative thoughts, fear, anxiety, and a reluctance to communicate. For example, imagine that you are a person who hesitates to speak to others. You can overcome this problem by creating a positive mental picture of yourself through creative imagination.
You will have to create a mental picture of yourself:
• Facing the person who you hesitate to speak with,
• Speaking to the person,
• Smiling at the person, and
• Sharing a joke with the person
If you create a list as mentioned above, you can train yourself to overcome the phobias that you experience.
To practice this technique, sit on a comfortable chair or lie on your back on the floor. Tighten all the muscles in your body as much as you can. Hold the muscles tight for 10 to 15 seconds. Then, relax your muscles slowly. Take a deep breath and then breathe out slowly. Continue this relaxation technique till you feel fully rested.
Once you are completely relaxed, you can start conquering your fears. Practice creative thinking as mentioned above, based on situations that create anxiety in you.
Visualise your success in each situation. You can use the creative visualisation technique to develop the mental strength to overcome each fear or situation that causes some kind of distress for you.
When a person is completely rested and at peace with himself, emotional issues will not trouble him. Even if these issues trouble him, their effect will be weak. When you visualise that you are successfully overcoming your fears in a fully relaxed state, you will be better prepared when you actually face them.
Stop Thinking and Exposure Technique
• Be aware of thoughts that cause fear in you
• Tell yourself to stop thinking when such fears crop up
• Put unnecessary thoughts on hold
• Be prepared to face situations that create a feeling of fear in you
• If you have agoraphobia, consciously spend more time in a crowd