According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 6 million suffer from specific phobias. A specific phobia is an anxiety disorder that is based on a certain fear. These fears vary greatly from person to person and usually stem from experiences in childhood. Specific phobias go beyond being simply adverse to a certain object or situation and can actually cause panic attacks.
Specific phobias can be difficult to diagnose in comparison to rational fears. There are six main criteria points that doctors use to diagnose specific phobias. First, the fear must be persistent and unfading. In some people, this fear may also be felt even if the object is not around or the situation is not happening, simple because it might be around or happen in the future. The second criteria that must be met for diagnosis is acute anxiety, sometimes even leading to a panic attack, when the object is around or the person is in the situations. Thirdly, the fear itself is irrational and excessive, because there is no immediate danger. Next, a person will start to avoid the object or situation, even if this disrupts daily life. Another criteria is that it disrupts life to the point where it interferes with normal daily functioning and a considerable amount of time is spent worrying about the phobia. Lastly, these symptoms are not attributed to another anxiety condition or disorder.
Fears vary widely, but fall into five categories: animals, natural environments, blood and injury, situational, and other. In some cases, treatment is not necessary. For example, if you have a fear of air planes, you can simply choose not to fly during your life. However, once the phobia begins to disrupt your functioning on a daily basis, you should see your doctor for treatment. Behaviour therapy is usually the best treatment you can get for a specific phobia. With this process, the person is exposed to the object or situation, slowly at first, and with pictures or virtualisation. Virtual reality is also great for helping others to overcome specific phobias.
It is simply important to seek help if a specific phobia is ruining your life. You can ask your doctor for tips to help you overcome a panic attack or ways in which to avoid objects or situations in healthy ways. While you may never be “cured” from your specific phobia, it is totally possible to let it go enough to be able to live your life normally on a day-to-day basis.
About Dental Fear
Dental fear is another common fear shared by many individuals. Despite the importance of dental care, there are quite many who despise the idea of going to the dentist for a visit. For some people, the pain associated with any type of dental problems is tied up with the fear of that dreaded visit to the dentist. Statistics reveal that dentists are the most feared out of any type of doctors.
It is no surprise as to why dental fear is so prevalent given the different situational causes to it.
Cause of Dental Fear
The fear of dentists vary in their intensity such that some people are afraid of undergoing intricate dental procedures while others dislike the idea of seeing the dentist at all. Due to the importance of dental care as part of taking care of your body, it is also important to assess your level of fear so you can undertake the necessary steps to overcome it.
If you examine the causes for dental fear, these are quite familiar. Therefore, you need to be able to identify them before you can think of ways to eliminate them.
• Previous terrible experience with a dentist.
• Fear of being embarrassed or ridiculed for your dental condition. This is quite problematic since your own fear is also the reason for your dental neglect in the first place.
• Fear of certain dental procedures, especially intricate ones that you might perceive as painful.
• Others own scary or terrible experiences with the dentist that impact your own perception about dentists and having a dental check-up on the whole.
• Fear of the anaesthesia shots and needles registered by the dentist before proceeding to any dental procedure.
Behavioural Techniques To Overcome Dental Fear
As with any other types of fear, dental fear mostly takes place in the mind. Therefore, you can try to combat it with a few psychological methods that will enable you to confront this fear. By following them, you are not entirely guaranteed of being able to let go of that fear altogether. However, it can help you understand that this type of fear can be illogical and enable you to appreciate the importance of having frequent dental care.
The Comfort Zone
This is an important concept associated with psychological fears involved with your dental fear. Undergoing dental procedures can be scary, but you can get over that by re-learning the emotional responses solicited by the experience. This is most common among children. For example, you can try doing basic check up wherein the doctor examines the teeth using a mouth mirror. If a child shows no signs of fear from that, then you can proceed to a more elaborate test. Taking this step by step process and moving in slowly will enable the child or individual to remain in their comfort zone. This is a more useful approach among adults given that they can voice out their experience so that you remain as relaxed about the entire dental visit.
Knowing You’re In Control
This one is related to the idea of the “comfort zone”, which is basically about letting your dentist know whether or not you are comfortable about the dental proceedings. It is important that you learn how to effectively communicate with your dentist, so they remain aware about your state throughout the entire procedure. If at some point you become quite anxious about the situation, then it is best to send out warning signals, so your dentist knows when to stop or proceed.
Also, you need to keep it in mind that dental procedures are not going to hurt. That is what the numbing agent is for, which is also another reason why you should not fear those shots administered before any procedure. Once you have motivated yourself enough to dismiss all these thoughts of fear and anxiety, then you’d be able to come out of the procedure with a healthier dental condition.
What is Performance Fear?
Performance fear or performance anxiety takes on different forms. However, it is associated with the growing awareness and the need to perform according to the standard of your own field of activity, whether in the workplace, or an upcoming presentation, or for a sports activity. With the pressure to perform one’s best, there is always this preconditioned mindset for the person suffering from performance fear that anything could go wrong that will eventually impact your performance and reduce it to failure.
Studies are still ongoing to determine exactly the cause of this fear but it is closely tied up to one’s desire to do better at something. However, you need to understand that experiencing performance fear is completely normal. But some often have unrealistic fear or misconception about given situations that impair their logical decision making capacities and end up in your not performing up to standard.
Different Types of Performance Anxiety
There are various types of performance fears or anxiety, whether at the workplace, sex, speech delivery, or sports. Therefore, the ways in which you deal with them must differ as well. Below are some basic methods suggested in order to minimise the level of fear associated with performing these different tasks and the level of anxiety that is entailed.
The best way to get rid of any performance fears associated when competing at a sports event is to take it easy on yourself. Even the world’s best sportsmen or women have their days off, wherein they do not perform at their maximum potential. When engaged in sports, you cannot expect to win all the time and you will find your team lose on some occasions. Whatever your sport, setting realistic goals is then the first step that will help you deal with sports performance fears and anxiety. However, you can turn that adrenaline produced by your anxious feelings into energy that you can harness to perform better at your sport. And when you are on the actual performance, try to enjoy the experience and you will find the process of competition more rewarding.
Several people have this fear of speaking in public. Much of that fear is produced by the pressure of having to deliver a flawless speech that is able to communicate the message to the audience effectively. Instead of letting that fear overtake you, harness it into a systematic plan that will ensure you have control over the situation.
Here are added tips you can apply:
• Carefully plan ahead your speech.
• Do some research to be well-equipped about the topic you are going to deliver a speech on, even when you are already an ‘expert’ at that field.
• Practice. Practice. Practice.
• Plan ahead the schedule and venue where the speech is going to be held.
There are a few innately stressful jobs that require high level of standards for their employees to meet. To keep up with performance anxiety, you need to stop and talk about it, with either your boss, co-workers, or family members. Being in isolation and confronting your fears alone could increase the fear or make the situation worse. It is important to have the support of other people.
Then, change your perspective. There are moments wherein there are job inadequacies but use that as a learning curve. Aiming for perfectionism is good but you need to realise that it is unachievable. Just try to focus on what you can contribute to the company instead of what you are failing to deliver.
Managing and Overcoming This Fear
You need to understand that you have power over your fear, especially when it determines how well you perform at something. Then, think of the following steps that must be taken in order for you to overcome these fears:
• Try to identify the source of your problematic perception or anything that could trigger such fears.
• Then, once you have identified the outside source for such levels of anxiety, look into yourself. Determine how you react to it and why you react that way.
• Refrain from criticising yourself nor questioning your ability to perform.
• Instead of letting fear consume you, make the necessary preparations needed for your performance, whether at a sports event or at the workplace.
• Once you are through with the performance, do not focus on areas of mistakes or failures in a way that it impairs your self-confidence. Instead, look at them as areas that need improvement in order for you to do better in your next performance.
The Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is common for obvious reasons. People want success and yet only those who are brave enough to confront this type of fear are the ones able to rise above their fears and achieve whatever goals they have set for themselves. For those who were overcome with this fear, then they are prevented from realising their potential.
The most destructive element entailed with the fear of failure is one’s inability to take criticism or feedback well. Instead, they tend to magnify the mistakes they have created along the way until it overtakes their mind such that it is difficult to get rid of them. There are also instances wherein the fear of failure is so immense that people tend to limit themselves to the point of not trying for fear of failing.
Steps to Overcoming This Fear
Why must fear of failure be given attention on, you might ask. Unless you are able to let go of the fear of failure, then you are unable to achieve your desired result. Oftentimes, fear of failure produces negative thoughts that reduce your actual potential. You think you are incapable of achieving something when it fact you can.
Once you are brave enough to do something about this fear, then you are able to provide yourself more freedom to do what you need to do and succeed at it. Here are some basic methods you can try.
Do Something About the Fear
Fear of failure immobilises you. You become so wrapped up with the fear that you will eventually fail that you rather not try. But when you don’t try, you neither fail nor succeed. Therefore, make that decisive action towards conquering your fear. If you should fail, then you will create awareness of the factors that will contribute towards your success. If you succeed, then you can reward yourself with that.
There are several factors that contribute as to why you fail or succeed at doing something. Whichever it is, you need to look at your behaviour towards something and the result achieved. But the most important step you can take is never to associate your failure with yourself. You can always get back up and try other alternative methods to achieve your goals. You can try doing things differently as the methods you use could be the reason why you failed in your attempt.
Learning From Failure
This is the best that you can take out from the experience and also one of the more effective ways to get rid of this fear. Instead of putting all the blame on yourself as to why you failed in your endeavours, take it as a learning experience instead. This will enable you to prevent failing in the future yet again. Consider the following questions as they can provide the answers in your need to conquer the fear of failure:
• Where did you commit mistakes?
• How could you prevent the mistake from happening?
• Where can I make improvements?
Failures must always be translated into a learning experience. That way, you have more opportunities to learn and do better. After all, if you have not experienced any type of failure, then you would not have the means towards changing for the better. In terms of conquering this type of fear, it is important that you learn how to confront and overcome them. Or else, you could end up repeating the same mistake or worse that your fear of failure could prevent you from following your goals.
About Childhood Fears
Fear affects anyone regardless of age. However, children are more prone to develop fears because they scope of understanding about society and things in general is still quite limited. The same also applies to their reasoning capacity in terms of identifying what is rational or irrational. Which is also the reason why childhood fears are often cited as irrational fears because they are mostly products of the mind and are not legitimate forms of fear where the feeling could create its source from.
One thing that everyone needs to understand though is that developing fear is completely normal. Some can develop at an early age or later in life, but they are always triggered by events or encounters in one’s life. Whether it is caused by something you experienced yourself or have not but creates a certain level of fear, then it is important to identify where the source of fear is. These are what is referred to as rational fears. Irrational fears, on the other hand, are more commonly known as childhood fears since they are not triggered by actual material world and are often imaginary.
Since they are usually produced by your mind, then overcoming them could entail more work. Some say it is an effect caused by the development of a child’s mental and emotional activity, as well as exposure to new people or environment. However, a few also insist that childhood fears must be conquered as it can potentially be harmful and limiting for the child.
How Do You Overcome Them?
Most individuals who suffer from childhood fears do not rely learn to let go of that fear and as a result carry that fear with them even when they’re grown up. This level of fear is often categorised as childhood trauma though, and can be caused by extremely disturbing events in his or her childhood years.
But whether you are still a child going through these fears or an adult who has not completely overcome these fears, then it is not yet too late to look for ways to free yourself off these fears. One way to get started is to realise the extent of your fear and devise ways in which you can relieve the burden.
Here are two effective ways to face and conquer childhood fears.
Recognising fears is your first step towards finding overcoming it. Unless you identify the source of your fears, you will never be able to find a solution or treatment for it. Since most childhood fears are irrational, it is best to talk about it with your friends or family members. Talking enables you to release any emotional burden that you experience as an effect of these childhood fears. Though it seem rather easy, talking about your childhood fears to other people is never easy. However, you need to be open with this idea in order to relieve any tension.
Seeking Professional Help
If you are not open to the idea of discussing your fears with family or friends, then seeking professional help is the best step towards overcoming childhood fears. Psychological experts are equipped with the proper training and knowledge that would help people suffering from fears and traumas to release their fears. You can also benefit from seeking psychological help in order to deal with your childhood issues and let go of any fears that you had to deal with over the years.
Fear of Public Speaking
This is one of the most common fears that people has, which is making a speech before an audience. Although this task appears to be rather straightforward, there are several factors that could come into play, which makes this a legitimate type of fear instead of being an irrational one.
Even those people whose job requires them to speak before a group of people are not exempted from this fear, which is surprising knowing that they do it often. So you might as well picture those individuals who only get to perform public speaking on given occasions and the amount of fear that is entailed with the task. In fact, the fear is so massive that it can result to stress for some people. This requires some attention knowing that some people who experience fear of public speaking end up not delivering a quality speech since they are overtaken by that fear. Indeed, the feeling of fear can cloud one’s ability to focus on the task at hand. After all, an effective public speaking produces a satisfying experience for both the public speaker and its audience.
Steps to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking
Public speaking isn’t an activity to be feared about. If this does not do the trick for you, then you might want to consider applying the following perspectives and behaviour towards this and hopefully be able to overcome this type of fear.
Public Speaking Isn’t Supposed to be Stressful
Fear of public speaking is quite common that some people think it is inherently stressful. Well, it is time you know it is not! Communicating with others is an activity with which humans do everyday, so why should public speaking be any different? Therefore, one way to overcome the fear of public speaking is to imagine this activity as any regular communication that you do everyday. The only difference with public speaking is that you are addressing more people than you normally would.
Acquiring this new perspective is not something that you can achieve overnight, though. However, just focus on what you need to share during your public speaking and less on the actual delivery process to lift off the burden.
Give Up The Idea of Delivering a Perfect Speech!
This is another major culprit as to why people fear the idea of speaking in public. Indeed, the idea of embarrassing yourself in front of many people is frightening. But the content of your speech is what is these people will remember, not how you flawlessly delivered the speech. Once you are able to get rid of this anxiety, then you will find that you become less frightened with the idea of making public speeches or talking in front of large groups.
Focus on the Purpose of the Speech!
One of the most common “hidden” causes of stress associated with public speaking is related to the cause above, which is trying to impress the audience with your delivery. Focus on what value the audience can get from your speech delivery instead of trying to make an impression on them. Although delivery will boost your success at a public speaking activity, the most important thing is to communicate effectively with them. If it offers any consolation, not all public speakers get 100% approval from their audience anyway.
Becoming a Good Public Speaker
Now that you have recognised the major cause of fear that most people experience when public speaking, here are factors that are important in not just overcoming this fear but also doing a good job at your speech.
• Study your subject matter thoroughly so you can be confident when its time to deliver it.
• Polish your speaking skills. This will enable you to relay the information clearly and authoritatively.
• Prepare all of your presentation materials so you can deliver an organised speech.
• Practice your delivery. Even the best public speakers do this.
Finding the Source of Your Fear
Any problem cannot be resolved unless you get to the source of the problem. The same is the case with your fears. If you are serious about getting rid of those fears and lead a more rewarding life free of fears, then you have to take care of this step before you proceed any further.
Why is finding the source of your fear important? Identifying the triggers of your fears will help you either manage, eliminate, or combat them. Regardless of the type of fear you have, there is always a source that triggers it. Hence, you can take the time to list down your fears and their level of intensity. Then, take note about environmental, emotional, or other factors that could trigger that fear. This will help you trace the source of your fear. Aside from external triggers, make sure that you also consider the internal triggers. Was there something in your past that created this emotional responses? It is basically as simple as asking yourself, “Why am I afraid?”!
Another important reason why finding the source of your fear is of essential is that it enables you to assess whether it is something that you can manage and control on your own, or whether you need professional help.
If you want more success in overcoming your fears, then you need to take the initiative so you can get proper help for whatever fears or anxieties that consume you. Here are tips to get you started on the right track:
• Remain positive. Fears that produce negative impact are also triggered by negative thoughts and outlook in life. Therefore, you must try to brush aside those negative ideas from your mind and prevent yourself from feeling depressed.
• Communicate with your internal self. There is no better person who knows about your fears than you do. So, you need to create awareness about your fears by identifying them and breaking them down into more manageable parts.
• Assess your fears. Some fears are irrational and often takes place in the mind of the person instead of actual reality.
Overcoming Your Fears
The importance of learning how to overcome your fears is rather obvious. No one wants to live their life in constant worry or fear, no matter how intense it may be. An anxiety-free life is one that provides more opportunity for growth and liberates you.
Here are basic techniques that you can try if you want to find relief from your fears or totally eliminate them:
*Get professional help
Take time each day to find a place where you can be isolated and be able to concentrate. Your objective is to transport yourself in a low stress situation wherein you have control over your fear, instead of the other way around. Imagine your fear as a concrete object that you destroy. You will never realise how it is able to calm you down.
Most fears are caused by the unknown or people’s inability to have control over a given situation. When you are suffering from certain types of fear, you need to look into the reality of the situation and gather information that you can. The more facts you have in hand, the less you become stressed about your situation because you always know you can manage it.
If you are one of those people who are too afraid to perform self-talk or confront their fears head-on, then it is best to seek professional help. They will start by assessing your fears and then suggest techniques that you can employ to combat those fears. Overcoming fears is often a long process, so don’t expect to get rid of all your fears (if you have many) at once. Talk to us at Anxious Minds
As much as there are several potential triggers to your fear, there are also as many types of fears. However, they can be categorised into three basic fears: external, internal, or subconscious. Among the three, the subconscious and internal type of fear are most difficult to find treatment to because the person must take the initiative to recognise the source of fear and take necessary steps to overcome it. Recognising the category in which your fears fit into will help you know how to deal with it.
Among the types of fear, this one is the easiest to diagnose and manage. It is similar to phobias wherein an outside source elicit a degree of internal fear or any manageable level of anxiety. For example, fear of spiders or fear of heights are among the most common phobias that several people share. A feeling of fear, anxiety or discomfort is experienced by the person with that particular fear when the situation confronts them with those triggers. Since the source of fear is easier to identify, then one can easily look for alternative ways in which to confront that trigger and overcome fear.
Since external fears are often caused by negative experiences in the past involving those external sources of fears, you can adapt some techniques that will help you understand the reality of the situation. Hypnosis or some other psychological methods are employed in order to erase any previous negative associations with these objects or creatures that elicit fear.
This type of fear is closely associated with low levels of self-esteem or confidence. But like with external fear, the triggers are coming from an outside source and yet it produces a negative emotion. This trigger will then produce internal reactions or fears such as self-doubt or questioning one’s capability to do something. Most often, when people begin to question their own abilities, failure is inevitable. This type of fear often impacts one’s ability to interact with the social environment.
If you want to conquer internal types of fear, you often have to go back at your childhood years wherein character development is at its peak. This is the stage in people’s lives wherein they build characters and develop fears. Some people seek professional help that enables them to adopt a new perspective in life and change any behaviours that produce such insecurities and fears.
This type of fear is produced by accepted beliefs in your mind that serve to limit your potentials and worse, could end up in self-sabotage. This one is somewhat associated with the internal type of fear wherein you have the tendency to question your capacity to achieve something. Thus, the tendency for self-doubt and negative self-talk. This one requires you to take active steps towards reversing those beliefs and enable you to maximise your potential.
Goals to Overcome Your Fears
One of the many reasons why people neglect the need to overcome their fears is the lack of motivation. Therefore, setting goals will help increase the desire to manage and overcome your fears. Aside from that, this will enable you to take careful methods toward your goal and provide a sense of direction. One benefit you can get from it is that aside from getting rid of your fears, it offers more focused direction in your everyday living as opposed to not having a clear idea of what you want to do in life.
Setting goals as motivation to overcoming your fears will also enable you to have a bigger grasp at the need to fight your fears as an opportunity to grow and delimit yourself.