How to Understand and Face Your Fears

Understanding and facing your fears will help you lead a happier life.
How to Understand and Face Your Fears
Fátima Servián Franco

Written and verified by the psychologist Fátima Servián Franco.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Fears, often unfounded, about what can go wrong or harm you in the future, are one of the main reasons that you tend to feel dissatisfied with your life. You hide certain fears that lead you to behave in an avoidant way in certain crucial situations in your life. This means that you have no greater opponent than yourself.

Your fears are born from your past experiences. In fact, in the process of socialization, from childhood to maturity, you acquired the fears of the closest and most influential people around you, even if this was an unconscious process. If these people were references for you, their fears pointed you to dangers and unpleasant situations to avoid.

If you drag your fears around for a long time and allow them to grow and occupy a large space in your day-to-day life, you’re allowing them to become a recurring filter, among the many that you use to process reality. In order for this not to happen, you need to know where these fears come from and how to act accordingly. Indeed, in the face of fear, you need action and commitment.

“The challenge is with oneself, the opponent is within.”

When your motivation is fear

Fear is a primitive emotion that gave rise to the survival of the human race. Like any emotion, when adjusted, it has its functional value, but when it’s maladjusted, it’s one of the most harmful. In fact, if fear takes control of your life, you’ll be ruled by avoidance, anxiety, and irrational behaviors. These can lead to major depressive disorders.

Acting out of fear isn’t enjoyable. You only seek to suffocate the discomfort it produces and stop it from growing. There are many kinds of fears. There are specific ones such as ghosts, dogs, water, pigeons, etc. On the other hand, there are also more diffuse fears. For example, the fear of talking to strangers, starting something new, speaking in public, flying, etc.

As a matter of fact, the list of fears is endless. Furthermore, it can have different meanings and manifestations for each individual. Nevertheless, the strategies used in psychological consultation to overcome them are all similar and affect the common part of all fears. In fact, to confront your fears, you need to relax, calm down, and objectively observe the situation, so that your reaction is appropriate and positive. In other words, if you can’t kill the monsters, train them.

Woman with hands covering face, suggesting you must understand your fears.

“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”

-Titus Livius-

Identify your fear and you’ll know your opponent

The first step to overcoming your fears is to understand their origin. Meditation and self-assessment are the best way of understanding yourself and meeting your true opponent.

You might wonder where your fears come from. They can originate from something that you’ve been told, something you’ve observed, or previous experiences. Once you know the cause, you can start working to overcome it. In fact, in order to identify your fears, you must examine the beliefs that support them.

These beliefs are excessive thoughts that are activated without there being any real threat to you. In these situations, there’s a distortion in your fear system. A distortion in your emotions that’s caused by your beliefs.

Your fears are the enemies that paralyze you. They’re only in your mind yet they prevent you from carrying out certain necessary behaviors in your daily life. Identifying and confronting them will make you see that most of these fears are excessive and are only covering up your insecurities.

When you find yourself faced with a difficult situation and you feel like fleeing, the best thing you can do is to act. To do this, you must take a journey within yourself, without losing sight of your external references. First, find out whether your fears are real or imagined. In the event that they’re real, observe the situation you’re in, take action, and make decisions. If they’re imaginary, take the advice we gave earlier.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

-Publilio Siro-

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.