When choosing a therapist, it is important to consider their Areas of Practice. specializes in:

When choosing a therapist, it is important to consider their Areas of Practice. specializes in:

When choosing a therapist, it is important to consider their Areas of Practice. specializes in:

Navigating Fear and Fear Based Experiences

Whether in response to the uncertainty of the current economy, ongoing supply-chain disruptions, unknowns in landscape geopolitical tensions, rising interest rates alongside inflation, investors are raising the standard while consumer expectations are on the rise and competition within the global market has increased. Inside these current complexities, many are seemingly doing ok while others are struggling to keep up and some others are doing exceptionally well in resiliently adapting to these changes.

Fear oftentimes will turn our attention to the more paramount circumstances

Likened to the pain mechanism from within, fear-based responses are unpleasant and typically uninvited. We typically do not enjoy its experience. At times, acting out of fear can be helpful, justified, and ultimately beneficial. Most fear has been related to a fear of fear itself: the troublesome thought spirals, problematic bodily sensations, and the fear experience itself.

Running away from the fear experience actually increases the felt distress over time, rather than decrease. Avoidance of fears can be a temporary relief, but in the long-term amplifies the discomfort and distress. In the long-term, these fear-based experiences tend to metastasize and we start working to avoid more of its felt distress and discomfort. Running masquerades the problem and makes it more difficulty in the long-term.

A functional definition of fear is: An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience. The medical community tells us that the anxious feeling we get when we are afraid is likened to a standardized biological reaction. It is pretty much the same set of body signals in these circumstances: we are afraid of getting attacked by a dog, getting rejected for a date, or having our taxes federally audited. Fear, like all other emotions, is essential information. It offers us knowledge and understanding about our circumstances —if we choose to accept it. There are five elemental fears, out of which many of our other fear experiences originate. These are:

  1. Nonexistence—the fear of annihilation, personal dread of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than merely “fear of death.” The idea of no longer being peaks a primary existential anxiety in all of us. We can give thought to that squeamish feeling you get when you look over the heights of a towering building.
  2. Dismembering—the fear of losing any part of our precious body; the thought of having our personal body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the functioning of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as creepy crawlers, various spiders, snakes, and other creatures arises from fear of mutilation.
  3. Loss of Independence—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by personal  circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it’s commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our interactions and relationships.
  4. Abandonment—the fear of separation, rejection, and loss of connectedness and intimacy; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The “silent treatment,” when imposed by a group, can have a devastating effect upon its target.
  5. Humiliation—the fear of dying to self, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-denial that threatens the loss of the self. The fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of personal lovability, ability, and worthiness.

Analogous to a fussy baby, fear can be pacified when embraced

Radical acceptance of fear-based responses will lead to a more dynamic toleration of its felt experiences. Accept the discomfort while also choosing to accept the multiple emotions contained within the fear. Questions to consider before acting on fear-based responses from these emotions can be: What goals are being pronounced in this situation? What are the facts? What would my rational mind say about this circumstance? If there is a decision to be made in this response – what are the values being represented?

It can be an important endeavor to interweave some fundamental dynamics when experiencing a fear-based response. Choose courage since it can be a great leader to follow, and people can get behind it. We all possess fear but also can cultivate and maintain courage. Notify your fear-based experience with your own curiosity. When a fear manifests, instead of noting that you are scared, tell yourself that you are curious about what is showing up in the moment. Pursue your curiosity when fear shows up. Next, tap into your caring relationships within your social network. Caring relationships create the “why” of needing to press through the initial discomfort of a fear-based response.

Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and those that you care about will propel you to bear with the longsuffering of fear-based experiences.

Running away from the fear experience actually increases the felt distress over time, rather than decrease. Avoidance of fears can be a temporary relief, but in the long-term amplifies the discomfort and distress.

By Deepak Santhiraj, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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