The first step to conquering your fear is understanding it. And letâ€™s face it, some of our fears are shallow and easy to identify at face-value. For example, you donâ€™t have to go through a traumatic episode to be afraid of spiders. People can be afraid of spiders simply because, wellâ€¦
Other fears are a little harder to excavate, and itâ€™s hard to fight against a fear that we donâ€™t understand. For example, some people have an irrational fear of roller coasters. I had a client once who would break out in a sweat even if she overhear people talking about a theme park. She assumed it was because of a fear of heights, but Â in reality, she was an avid rock climber who could be 300-400 feet in the air without much discomfort.
When we sat down to talk about why she was afraid of roller coasters but had no problem climbing up a 300-foot rock face, we realized heights werenâ€™t the problem at all. The root of her fear was feeling like her safety was out of her control. She had no problem setting a rope hundreds of feet in the air as long as it was her hands that did it, When it came to trusting a stranger to design and maintain a machine that could go a hundred miles an hour, however, she couldnâ€™t imagine strapping herself into the seat.
After digging further, it became clear that she had experienced a history of domestic violence as a young woman, and that experience made it difficult to trust other people with her physical well-being. So while at face-value my client seemed afraid of heights, deep down there was a whole lot of hurt and history that was keeping her at arms length from those she loved. Counseling not only helped her take steps towards riding her first (albeit, small) roller coaster, it helped her take steps towards trusting others again. Facing this seemingly simple fear had huge beneficial consequences for her, and Iâ€™m convinced you can have that same experience too!
So what about you? Are you ready to start digging deeper to the root of your fears? If so, then list out some of your most common fears on a sheet of paper. Then ask yourself these three simple questions:
- Do you notice any common traits in those fears?
- When did some of these fears first begin?
- By addressing the root of some of these fears, how would your life be different?