The Happiness Project is now reviewed on Philosophy of Living!
What is fear?
In its basic sense, fear is not wanting or being afraid of an undesirable outcome to happen. Thus reasons of fear is that you visualize an undesirable outcome or event and then fear its occurrence.
This is the role fear plays in preserving living creature. Without this mechanism, many undesirable events/outcomes wouldn’t have been avoided. However, the condition becomes handicapping for those obsessing about irrational fears.
Most people attempt to resolve this by operating on their fear itself. The use techniques like: distract your attention, try to overcome your fear…etc. However, such techniques are not sustainable. They might send obsessive fear off, but soon it returns again in attacks. It’s not a permanent solution.
Understand: it’s ALWAYS difficult to operate on your Self. When confronted with any situation in life, if there is a path to get thing done other than through the Self inside; then, opt for it immediately (sadly, this is not the norm).
Instead, operate on the object of fear.
- When you are attacked by a specific fear, consciously identify the undesirable outcome/event triggering your fear (based on my essential definition of fear I defined above). Make sure here that you go through the rabbit hole in pinpointing the real undesirable outcome/event behind your fear.
- Once you know the undesirable outcome/event causing you the fear, you have two options:
- Alter your perception of the outcome/event itself.
How many times you rebelled against something only to find out later that it wasn’t that bad at all? How many times you feared something to find that it was in fact interesting to happen? Sometimes our own perceptions make the outcome/event an undesirable one yet when we ground things in reality or attach them to context, our perception of them changes 180 degrees.
If possible, look at the outcome/event and see what’s about it that can make you perceive it as fear-free.
2. Narrow your definition of what’s fearful.
Fear is sometimes an impulse. If you are not attentive in such time, it will take you over without you giving yourself a chance to think rationally about it. In such cases, when you suddenly say “wait a minute, what am I afraid of”, you may find nothing deserves the fear.
The best way to trap such type of fear (i.e. when it comes as an impulse), is to ask What If?
For example, you are giving a presentation at work and after you were done, you were struck by the fear that you presented badly. In such case, it can turn out to the worst by haunting you down a spiral of negative thoughts. Now, “what if I presented badly”; my colleagues would say that I am not good at public speaking. So What?
Are you going to be fired. No. Are you going to miss the promotion. No (unless your job is not about presenting, which is another thing). Are you going to be hated or ignored by your colleagues. No.
Probably even, your audience won’t remember anything about your bad presentation 3 days after it.
Whenever possible, work on eliminating some of your fears by putting them out of consideration completely. The What If analysis is a viable technique to trivialize your fear, taking it out of the equation.
3. Defuse the influence of the outcome/event by counteracting.
Some things are intrinsically fearful, with no simple angles to exploit for a perception change. For example, fear of death. This is something we cannot alter our perception of it, for obvious reasons.
If you fear something, it means it has direct influence on you. What if you can remove this influence? You are right: you won’t fear it. Let’s take death for example. What would be its influences on you: leaving your beloved, being not ready to meet your God (if you are a believer), feeling pain in the process… This is just a non-exhaustive list to show the method; each one can add his reasons. Thus, in this technique start by enlisting the influences of that thing you fear.
Then, as you tackle each influence, attempt to defuse it by counteracting with an action or mental thought. Following the same example list:
Leaving beloved ones –> In the other world, things are not the same. Your perception changes. You are totally detached for life and is now governed by different rules.
Being not ready to meet your God –> That’s the easiest. Be always ready (if it means to you keeping your prayers…etc.)
Feeling pain in the process –> Well, if it’s going to be really the process of death, understand that it’s soon going to end and things will go away soon. It’s not a pain you’re going to live with.
Doing this exercise, each individual influence is defused once you acted on it.
Whenever faced with a something fearful which its influences are not solvable (like Death), alright, leave its influences as they are. Just defuse their control over you.