Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to overcome fear without going to a psychiatrist?

Fear is an unpleasant emotion that seizes your mind when you’re aware of some danger to you. Let’s explore this fear and help take control of this fear.

Does fear come through the gene?
Yes, to an extent, fear has some roots in the genes. Let’s look at it this way, a baby who does not even know the dangers of a wild animal may get scared and cry when it hears the sound of a tiger, cow or even a dog. But then another child might pull the tail of a cow or sit on a tiger without fear.

In the former, the fear may be a reaction conditioned by the experience of our ancestors in very hostile conditions in the jungle. When fear was a weapon they had to be aware of danger and respond by fighting the fear or running away to safety. This ensured their safety in case of attacks by animals in the forest.

Does fear come from knowledge?
This is the fear that one needs to be aware of to overcome the fear. When a 10 year old child who has knowledge of the dangers from tigers, elephants or foxes, they are bound to be afraid when they see one. Why is the same child who at three was pulling the tail of a cow, is now afraid of the cow? Because now its thoughts are conditioned by the knowledge that cows are big, strong and could harm us by butting us.

Fear of the Unknown
Most of our fears will fall into this category (though we’ll discover that there’s a reason or incident that leads to this fear). There are some fears that we are aware of. Let’s take a common example. Roger has a fear of hospitals. He never visits anyone in a hospital. And even when he does it’s a very unpleasant, nauseating feeling that overwhelms him. He’s aware of it. His father had fought cancer and died in a hospital. The frequent visits, the pain of his father while undergoing chemotherapy, the silent cries of his mother in the hospital, the midnight rushes to the hospital in an ambulance – all these memories create a strange fear in Roger.

Roger understands this but is never able to overcome the fear because he’s emotionally involved in his father’s death. The way out for Roger is to accept that his father died a death that was painful for him and everyone else around. Second he needs to understand that death is natural and that everyone must die one day. He also must be aware of the damage the fear causes in him and how it incapacitates him every time he see or thinks of a hospital or ambulance. He must accept the reality that his father is no more. And that the Roger and his family and the doctors did their best to save him. Did their best to take care of him. But now that is over. There is a normal life to lead. He needs to support his mother and brother and sisters. He needs to go on with life.

How to overcome fear without going to a psychiatrist?
Fear can reside at the conscious, unconscious or sub conscious state. You need to be “aware” of this fear. By awareness I mean accepting the fear and not resisting it. By awareness I mean you should not be analytical, interpretative or argumentative about the fear or the feeling of fear. You should not examine this fear by looking through your past experience. Your memory of a past incident should not color your clarity of thought about this fear.

Just let your thought open up like the fizz from a bottle of coke. Let it flow, let the thoughts jump like a monkey from one to another. Be aware of your feeling. Whether it’s negative, fearful or frustrating. Don’t stop your tears. Let them flow.

This awareness in silence helps you detach from the fear. And see its origins and consequences very clearly.

When you do this for sometime, over days, over months, you slowly begin to see a sea change occur in you. You are no longer feeling as bad as you did before. You are no longer afraid. The fear seems to have vanished. Understanding and being aware of your fear is the solution. There’s no other solution.

Related Articles About Understanding and Managing Fears

Overcome Fear by Challenging Fears Positively

How I Overcame My Fear of Heights