Fear has a way of overriding every rational response you normally have. It should — fear is designed to keep us safe from threats. The problem is when it gets applied to things we don’t need to be afraid of. To overcome that fear, spend time with what you’re afraid of to ease the burden.
Photo by dryhead
This might sound like something Liam Neeson would teach Batman, but the advice actually comes from a less comic book-y source. Harvard Medical School professor Ronald Siegel suggests that you can practise dealing with anxiety by allowing yourself to feel those worries. The more comfortable you are with your thoughts, the less likely you are to succumb to them:
Now that you’ve developed a clear experience of anxiety, try intensifying it. Make it as strong as you can while sitting here holding this book. Don’t worry; this is safe. I promise it won’t last forever. Once you feel as though you’ve generated about as much anxiety as you can muster, see if you can hold on to it. Set a timer or look at your watch and try to keep the anxiety going at the same level for at least 10 minutes. If it starts to fade, try to intensify it again. Now that you’ve practiced bearing your anxiety, you can bring your attention back to your breath for a few more minutes and feel what that is like.
Sometimes this can come from simple meditation, but other times it may require getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing what you’re afraid of. Whether it’s heights, public speaking, or parties, the more you’re exposed to the thing you’re afraid of, the less likely you are to panic when you encounter it next. Except spiders. It’s OK to be afraid of spiders.
How To Conquer Fear, Backed By Research [Barking Up the Wrong Tree]