MAKING IT BETTER: Does Fear and Anxiety Hold You Back?

Let’s start off being very clear that fear and anxiety are not the same thing. I have had my share of both. Fear is a response to a real or perceived imminent threat. Anxiety on the other hand is an emotional fear of expected or anticipated threat. It can be an unfocussed worry; feelings of uneasiness and a tendency to over react to a situation. Anxiety is an umbrella that covers a wide range of phobias and social disorders.

The only way to deal with fear is to face it. Avoiding it prevents us from moving forward—it makes us anxious. Fear causes us to notice and remember negative events, which reinforces our sense that the world is a scary place. We can work to change that by deliberately noticing what is positive—the joy we feel when we see someone we love, the pleasure of a sunny day, the beauty in nature, the fun of an outing, the humour in a situation.

According to research, positivity broadens our perspective—we literally have a wider view, which offers us more options. And the more we practice positivity, the more it builds, creating a resilience that allows us to function even in difficult times. Fear can shatter our sense of the world as we know it. Those who have experienced trauma may also have experienced real losses that further lead them to question the meaning of their lives. Trauma survivors also often feel guilt about what happened, feeling, illogically, that they could have somehow prevented it, and this shame can also contribute to doubts about their meaning. However, whether we suffer from anxiety or trauma, it is important to rediscover a sense of purpose.

I have felt such fear and anxiety at different times in my life for a variety of reasons. Now when I look back I can identify those times when both emotions had a strong hold on everything I attempted to do and they definitely stopped me from making decisions I needed to make. While I still experience fear as it can also be a healthy emotion in the right dose since it helps to focus your mind and to prepare you for the fight or flight position; I am much more aware of what fear is and what is just free floating or random anxiety which is not as helpful.

Fear can shatter our sense of the world as we know it. Those who have experienced trauma may also have experienced real losses that further lead them to question the meaning of their lives. Trauma survivors also often feel guilt about what happened, feeling, illogically, that they could have somehow prevented it, and this shame can also contribute to doubts about their meaning. However, whether we suffer from anxiety or trauma, it is important to rediscover a sense of purpose

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. It has a very strong effect on your mind and body. Fear and anxiety can last for a short time and then pass, but they can also last much longer and you can get stuck with them. In some cases they can take over your life, affecting your ability to eat, sleep, concentrate, travel, enjoy life, or even leave the house or go to work or school. This can hold you back from doing things you want or need to do, and it also affects your health.

Some people become overwhelmed by fear and want to avoid situations that might make them frightened or anxious. It can be hard to break this cycle, but there are lots of ways to do it. You can learn to feel less fearful and to cope with fear so that it doesn’t stop you from living.

What do fear and anxiety feel like?

When you feel frightened or seriously anxious, your mind and body work very quickly. These are some of the things that might happen

  • Your heart beats very fast – maybe it feels irregular
  • You breathe very fast
  • Your muscles feel weak
  • You sweat a lot
  • Your stomach churns or your bowels feel loose
  • You find it hard to concentrate on anything else
  • You feel dizzy
  • You feel frozen to the spot
  • You can’t eat
  • You have hot and cold sweats
  • You get a dry mouth
  • You get very tense muscles

These things occur because your body, sensing fear, is preparing you for an emergency, so it makes your blood flow to the muscles, increases blood sugar, and gives you the mental ability to focus on the thing that your body perceives as a threat.

With anxiety, in the longer term, you may have some of the above symptoms as well as a more nagging sense of fear, and you may get irritable, have trouble sleeping, develop headaches, or have trouble getting on with work and planning for the future; you might have problems having sex, and might lose self-confidence.

When troubled by fear, anxiety and worries it is easy to feel these emotions are caused by the unpleasant situation you are facing. However it is the way you are reacting to the unpleasant situation that is causing the fear and anxiety. By learning not to react in fearful ways you release love in your heart and happiness becomes your constant companion.

Overcoming fear, anxiety and worries is achieved by feeling safe in challenging circumstances because you have the resources to deal with whatever life throws at you.  Even when you may feel you do not have a practical solution at the time sometimes just telling yourself that you will find a solution and trusting speaking affirmatively of your intention to overcome the challenges may help to quiet your fear and anxieties and allow you to have a different perspective and attitude to your challenges.

“Your fears are not walls, but hurdles. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the conquering of it.” ~ Dan Millman

“You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.” ~ Brian Tracy

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you look fear in the face. You must do the thing that you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Can you share some of the types of fears you have?

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One Response to MAKING IT BETTER: Does Fear and Anxiety Hold You Back?

  1. Femi Diipo August 19, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Such an inspiring and motivating article. Fear and anxiety can really be a great setback, one needs to learn to face it and find strength to keep moving forward.

    Reply

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