I love Halloween because it is one of the only times left when it is appropriate to mock what makes us uncomfortable. Maybe we do that by putting coffins in our front yard to terrorize the neighbors or by dressing up as pop culture icons who will inevitably be the death of our youth. Our fears are brought to the forefront as people tell scary stories around bonfires. So since we may be more comfortable with the subject of fear than usual about now, I though I might use this as an opportunity to offer some new perspectives on the subject.
Fear may lead to hate.
I thought I should start off by mentioning a few reasons to avoid fear. The first one seems obvious, but not obvious enough: We tend to resent what we’re afraid of. When something makes us uncomfortable we unconsciously get defensive. When we get defensive, we look for specific aspects from the stimulus of our discomfort from which we should protect ourselves. Those specific aspects may justify our fear and even sir up feelings that could lead us to feel vindictive. This occurrence may manifest in many ways to varying degrees. If you hate a sports team, I wouldn’t be surprised if they stood a good chance of beating your team (or because you couldn’t face the shame of their defeat). A more extreme example of what a fear could lead to is racism. Show me someone who is generally angry or hateful, and I show you someone who is secretly afraid of his own shadow.
Fear doesn’t come from being in the now.
Sometimes we're fearful of the past repeating itself. Usually we fear something that has yet to come. If someone breaks into your house, you would be more afraid before they get to you as opposed to when you actually have to fight with them, because usually when that happens, the unconscious takes over.
When you’re confronted with fear, ask yourself what you can do about it in the now. If there is a healthy way to prepare for something that is yet to come, go for it because it may make you feel better. If there isn’t anything you can do about it, then avert your attention by finding something better to occupy your thoughts and time. If all else fails, close your eyes and think about how good breathing feels for a while.
Fear leads you to regret.
I want to start by clarifying that there is a difference between weighing the risks verses rewards and deciding that something isn’t worth it to you and being afraid so therefore letting that keep you from that something. Something may be so much fun for you that it’s worth the risk. Motorcycling doesn’t strike me as something that would be fun enough to be worth the risk or expense involved, but I can understand how an enthusiast might feel differently.
A more personal example I should mention is the time I went to see the Mayan ruins outside Progresso in Mexico. When we went to the ruins, there was a pyramid that they said we were allowed to climb to the top of. This pyramid was pretty tall, and at times, I get uncomfortable around high places and steep slopes. However, I wasn’t going to allow my fear to get in the way of this unique experience. So I took a couple slow breaths took my time while I scaled those small, jagged steps. Those monuments were important to an ancient civilization. I wasn’t going to let fear get in the way of my view from the top.
There’s always another way to look at your fear.
When I deal with clients who struggle with phobias, I love to reference Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I love the part of the story when Professor Lupin teaches how to handle a Boggart. Now a Boggart, for those Muggles reading, is a shape-shifter who lives in closets and wardrobes and comes out to scare people by presenting him/herself as the person’s greatest fear. The way to do away with the Boggart is by pointing your wand, thinking of something absurd saying the spell Riddikululs, thus morphing the Boggart into something that no longer has power over you.
I applied the same concept to a stupid fear of mine one evening. There is a little vent/window next to the stairs coming up from my basement. While at home alone, I got one of those stupid ideas that made me walk a little faster: What if there was a psychopath outside waiting to grab my ankle through the window? Then I thought, “Right, Dan. There’s a lunatic biding his time out side this not-so-strategically-placed window so that he can cut his hand on glass just to grab your ankle.” I even got a mental image of a goofy character getting overly excited about his horrible opportunity. It may seem like a simple example, but this idea can be applied to anything if you’re willing to be creative enough.
If you would like some help learning new ways to look at what you fear the most, hypnosis may be a great tool for you. Setting your mind at peace simply begins with learning to calm yourself down. Hypnosis is the perfect tool for relaxation and shifting your approach to a challenge. Fear is one of the easiest ways to lose control of your thinking. Live your life as if you believe losing self-control is inexcusable.