I was vacationing in the Caribbean with my family when I was little. I was excited to go to the beach in my new little bathing suit and toys. I remember going into the water, holding my mom’s hand. Suddenly I was separated from my mom, swept up by a wave, and tumbled under water in every direction. I was scared to death because I didn’t know what was happening and I had no control. A woman on the beach witnessed the scene and ran into the water to grab us and helped to pull us in. I learned later that my mom had been swept up too. That was my first, and last, experience of rip tides. To this day I am scared to death of the ocean. I can handle gently lapping waves, but I certainly stay away from the surfer go-get-em waves.
I saw a similar situation in my daughter’s childhood fear, which has lasted into adulthood.
It was one of those sticky, hot and humid nights when she was (also) 5. The air conditioner was on in her room with the door closed, and I had one in my room upstairs. Mine was so old and incredibly clinky and noisy I had to wear ear plugs to sleep. Suddenly, I woke up and heard a very faint noise (through all that!). I realized It was my daughter crying in her room. I rushed down the steps and tried opening her door. It was stuck. Somehow my mother strength plowed through that door and I immediately understood the situation. Her air conditioner had broken which made the room extremely humid and thus, the door was stuck. She was so upset, and for months afterward swore I locked her in her room (that’s for another discussion). I explained repeatedly that wasn’t the case. Well, she believes me now, however, she still gets panicky whenever there is a potentially “stuck” situation, ie, subway doors or elevator doors not opening…
My husband has a fear of our cats running out of the house. We’ve talked about this and he says it’s fear of losing something you love and losing a connection… or, abandonment.
All of these examples are completely valid fears. It’s no wonder we often walk around scared to death.
Recently, I read that an estimated 15 million American adults suffer from some sort of phobia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). You are not alone in your fears.
Facing fear is a huge and complicated topic, but there are some ways you can diminish them. Let’s take a look at how you can begin overcoming your fears.
Avoiding anxiety only makes it bigger in scope. To get rid of your anxiety try facing your fears. I know that sounds scary, but the discomfort is short-term. Just think about studying for an exam, let’s say. Your fear of tests is short-lived. You know you have to study for them, and so you just do it.
In taking action facing your fears, knowing that they will subside over time, they’ll empower you to take control of them. The more you face your fears, the more they lose their power, and you gain power. Win-win, as they say.
This is not a light topic. There is an infinite amount of fears we all face. If you just do one action to begin conquering them, it’s a step toward having a fearless life.