There was another thread similar to this here, but I was wondering about how we all deal with fear. The thing is fear has many different reasons so it stands to reason that there would be different ways to approach and tackle it. Also that working with and through fear may never leave us truly fearless but simply more capable of recognising the warning signs and having tools at our disposal to use against it.

Why do we fear, what purpose does it serve?
How do we learn to fear and is this learning process always accurate?
Is our fear based on reality?
How do we work through fear (founded and unfounded)?

There has been SO MUCH written about fear and anxiety management but sometimes it helps to speak our own experiences and in doing so, work out new stuff for ourselves rather than just reading other people's ideas.

I'm finding that a particular fear of mine, which is both founded and unfounded at the same time, is teaching me about myself. It is also teaching me that there is something to be faced while at the same time something to be released.

Disfunctional thinking patterns which lead to irational fears (fear of feathers for example) can be dealt with in a fairly straightforward manner with CBT or hypnosis.

Real fears based on very real problems (domestic violence, redundancy etc) are difficult to deal with because of the fact that they are founded in a real threat so physical change has to occur alongside a mental shift.

Often though it is the menial, day to day stuff which gets us. The silliest things like not wanting to answer the phone because you last job was in customer service taking nasty customer call after nasty customer call . . .

These learned responses to difficult situations which lead to real yet, at the same time, irational fears (because the threat is no longer apparent) can harry us for life so how do we sort them out?


This is an interesting question. I look forward to reading the answers. I myself have developed a deep neurosis about driving since I've been in the UK. I can't bring myself to do it. I think I've driven like 4 times since I got my license 3 or 4 years ago. Just thinking about driving makes me feel like I'm actually going to throw up. I did not have this in the US (where I drove for 20 years), nor did I have it when I first started taking lessons. I drove us all the way from Nuneaton to Milton Keynes with no anxiety problems (going on A roads, all perfectly legal :D ), before I started taking lessons to prepare for the exam. It happened during the lessons. With every lesson and practice session, my anxiety heightened, and now I am petrified to get behind the wheel.


I have been thinking about this thread since i saw this last night and was reflecting on what were the situations that caused me to experience fear. I realize that i was lucky that i have not experienced anyone threatening me such as losing my job, battering me unlike my friends who had very possessive husbands texting them to keep asking them where they were and that they had to report their activities or else ...

My fears went with my age ... when i was a child i was afraid of ghosts because our maids would often scare me that if i didn't close my eyes to go to sleep, a ghost would show up. Then, when i was a teen-ager, my mother would often scare me that if i fooled around with drugs or with boyfriends, i would stop schooling, so i made sure i didn't bother with drugs or with boys. Getting to college was more important to me then.

When i was working, the only person i got a little nervous about was a client CEO of a. ery large firm who didn't seem to have a conscience. He would lambast his executives for their mistakes, humiliate them and threaten them because they made stupid mistakes from his point of view. Interestingly enough, he never shouted at me since apparently, i knew how to position my ideas to his vision for the company, and when i made mistakes, i would readily apologiE and mention it to him and own it before he discovered it.

I guess the only thing i really feared for was my life ... having to undergo a second kidney transplant. The first one seemed to be a cinch. the second one proved to be so dangerous for me that i thought i couldn't survive. Now that i am ok, i am till traumatized by what i went through ... surprisingly though, the fears seemed temporary ... i guess age helps us outgrow some of them after all.


I agree that fear is often meant to teach us lessons--I'm talking mainly about those weird inborn fears (like my completely irrational fear of wasps, hornets, or other stingy things). Although other kinds of fear can teach us lessons as well. Fearing that your husband has been in a wreck on his drive from work and that's why he's late reminds you how much you love him (sometimes at the end of an exhausting day picking up his clothes from around the house). The thing I struggle with is how to release these fears when they don't do us any good. For example, I KNOW I am afraid of wasps and stingy things, and that I shouldn't worry as much about these as I do. Why do I fear their stings so much? I'm not allergic. It would only hurt for a moment. But the moment one comes around I either freeze up or bolt the opposite direction. It's instinctual--I literally can't stop myself. I've meditated on this and have tried a million different ways to get rid of this fear, but I haven't been successful. Drives me NUTS! So what is the point of a fear like that?

To be honest, I think a lot of fear is around to teach us to live life. When we stop to realize how much our fears cripple us, I think we start to realize how much more free we'd be without fear. What's the use of pacing the floor at night waiting for your teenager to drive home safely? Pacing the floor won't help! When you realize stuff like that, and if you're able to let go of your fear, you release so much toxicity from your self.


The difference in me between mentally understanding the concept of fear, why it is a necessary survival aspect and how it can be unfounded and the knowing or experience of working through fears when I understand from deep within what that means is profound.

The panic, sense of being out of one's depth, alone, unable to articulate what exactly it is that is scaring me or the inability to fight or fly is where most people sucumbe to a feeling of confusion and hopelessness. Our fight or flight response is there for a good reason but in our modern-day world we don't always feel that we can do either. This is when we start avoiding things. If we feel powerless to react, then avoiding what makes us feel bad seems like the right option.

Why would anyone want to feel bad deliberately? But then why do we feel it is our right to always feel good?

Are we missing the point by literally feeding our physical nature at the expense of our mind and soul? The search to always feel physically and psychologically comfortable seems to belie the fact that in order to grow strong, we have to push ourselves, exercise mind and body outside the comfort zone.

Much of the time it literally is about changing one's mind and finally, after years of living in comfortable fear, sometimes we just throw it all up in the air and say enough is enough. Life has to be about more than this.

One great reason why fire walks and bungee jumps are so popular, because our contemporary society has no rite of passage for young people to prove themselves, face fear and find their power so we skim through life living only for the comfortable and nice things.

The devil is not in the discomfort but in the comfortable vices, hence why our Christian ancestors burned people at the stake and tortured them, because they considered pain to be purifying. I'm not condoning what they did but just saying that I understand why.

If we cannot or dare not face our fears, starting with little ones, one by one then we waste our entire lives in the comfort zone of living death.


All emotions to me are tools, like the flag raised on my mailbox that tells my postman there is a letter inside that needs to be picked up. Likewise, the fear tells me there is something I need to pay attention to or do. Some of my fears are quite reasonable; if I come across a coiled rattlesnake and feel afraid, my fear is telling me, "Be careful! Give him a wide berth!" But then there are other fears, like my fear of speaking in a large group. I have that same flight or fight response as with the snake. What I have to remember is that just because I have an emotion, it is not necessarily rooted in REALITY. Those people in the audience are not rattlesnakes, the problem lies within. But still, I must look inside the mailbox - there is a message there about something I need to be aware of or work on. It just often requires digging a bit deeper and looking under some layers to find the root of things...


There are different kinds of fear. The fear we seek, like movies or thrill rides, racing motorized vehicles that pump our adrenline up. And those that take it farther, skydiving, bungee jumping, and more. Those are kinds of fear we seek for the pure rush. I have done some of those.

Then there are phobias. I hate to drive. I don't like spiders. I know I can overcome those fears by being exposed to them more. Driving more, starting off in safe places. I got over my horror of spiders by gardening. Do I want them crawling on me? No. Do I sound like I'm being murdered when I see one in the house now? No.

In some ways, I think exposure to fear we can cantrol helps when we are faced with rational fears. I have had a gun pointed at me, have been threatened with physical harm, and have gotten in front of people being threatened. Staying calm can help de-escalate many situations. That doesn't mean I wasn't afraid. But I try not to let my fear control me. (Spiders were the exeption to that, LOL.)

I also think some people are freezers. They CANT do anything when there is a situation, because the brain kind of stops.


It's the subtle psychological fears that seem to really manipulate people's actions. Fear that people won't like me, fear of being seen as silly, fear of making mistakes, fear of upsetting people and loosing respect.

Many of us hang around in pernicious and destructive thought patterns for decades, never actually looking at the root cause of our fears. The avoidance of discomfort seems to make it worse.

VGimlet said:
That doesn't mean I wasn't afraid. But I try not to let my fear control me.

Yes, our fears may never fully leave us but we can be in control rather than the other way around. Phones - I hate phones, for the longest time I didn't want to answer a phone because after working alone in our office, being the only one that unreasonable customers could express their frustration to, it became a phobia with me. It has taken 10 years to get over it but still, sometimes when the phone rings, there is a momentary blip of panic.

The only way, as you say, is to face the fear and examine it. Avoiding it makes it worse and although it may feel easier at first, in the long run it just embeds it further.

I found that little ways to face things really helped. Not having too high expectations (I will be cured in a day - that sort of thing). So allowing a tiny, baby spider onto your finger then working up to slightly bigger. I don't really fear spiders but the really big ones make me shudder. I think it's an inbuilt survival thing . . .


I find that some irrational fears have rational endings - take spiders. I used to be so scared. But all my childhood my Mum said that they were more frightened than me. Having been frightened of someone else, I now feel sympathy for the spider - all it is is frightened of a 'predator' it doesn't understand.

My other thing is I don't like new people or new social situations - everything from walking into a shop to ask questions to meeting someone's friends in the pub. I'm just plain nervous and scared every time. My method (and I know it's odd) is to make a list, make myself a deadline for a task to be done (I must have booked my hair cut by **th) and i hate failing at tasks I set myself so I will will do it - so as not to disappoint myself.


Reading this thread has given me insights about fear ... what kinds can they be, where they come from, and they can influence our next decisions and actions.

Although some types of fear can be limiting or paralyzing, they can still sometimes help us. Fear teaches us caution and helps us discern between taking calculated risks or being careless. Fear can also make us more sensitive to others' needs and welfare ... such as when we need to help a person cope with a problem ... sometimes we worry on whether we should reveal to a person the true state of things of not for fear that a person may not know how to handle it.

I just realize it but a few years back, i had a very interesting client. He was extremely bright, a visionary, a strategist, quite gifted. He had one major problem though and he never realized it-- he had no conscience. He would scream at his executives and humiliate them, threaten them with law suits. Their meetings would be hours of him shouting at them for their stupidity, and they would also coil in fear. Their blood pressures would go up so much so that around two people had to resign for fear of literally suffering a heart attack. Our medical personnel had to go visit the execs before a meeting with him to take their blood pressure. since I was a consultant, I studied this ceo's behavior and found ways to help them deal with him. Surprisingly, i was one of the few lucky people wom he never shouted at and he treated me quite well. When i had enough nerve to tell him that his people were so afraid of him because of his treatment, he was so shocked. ... and I realized something about him ... he respected courage. I observed that when people came to him to tell him the truth about their own mistakes before he would discover them, he would be softer on them. He wanted them to confront him, have the nerve to tell him he was wrong, or that they had a better idea and they could prove it by laying out the facts...

I advised his execs to go to him straight to report what their achievements were, what problems they faced, the solutions they could think of, ask him for his counsel, rather than hide or blame others or show powerlessness. It took awhile, but it worked. The shouting became less, almost close to none .... he developed a healthy respect for them eventually ... and when he retired, he ended up being the most admired ceo in the company.

I learned a lesson from this ... might as well face the fear and do what we need to do anyway. As Diego in Ice Age II put it, fear is for prey. Whatever it is we are running away from - other people, situations, or ourselves, we are making them predators and we are making ourselves preys to be eaten ... a prey who does not fight back will never win.