Home Psychology Facing Your Fears The Healthy Way

Facing Your Fears The Healthy Way


More than 19 million Americans have a phobia, with the rates being twice as high for women as for men. Spiders, snakes, and heights are the top three phobias, but other common fears include water, dogs, injections, flying, and social phobias. Facing these fears and coping with them in a natural way is important, or it can cause further difficulties in everyday life. Avoiding the things that cause you to fear might seem like the easiest option, but in the long term, this will condition the amygdala area of the brain (the fear center) to think that you can’t handle your fears. Instead, gradually facing the things that are causing you fear and anxiety will help you cope in a healthy way. 

What Does Facing Your Fears Mean?

Each one of us is afraid of something and fears are important because they kept us alive through our evolution. But avoiding them can cause even greater problems and lead to even bigger problems. When we decide to face our fears we become stronger, that is why is important to face them. 

When we are kids, facing fear means a rite of passage and everyone is happy when we learn that no monsters are hiding under the bed. But, as adults, things are more complicated and the truth is, we never overcome certain fears in life, like racing a car, for example, and it is quite normal to avoid some things you fear, like a giant tarantula. 

What Happens In Our Brain When We Face A Fear?

We use fears to survive in life-threatening situations and are experienced in our mind, but provoke a physical reaction in our body. When you are in a situation where you face fear, it provokes the work of a small organ in the middle of your brain that is called the amygdala. This small organ warns the nervous system, which stimulates your body to react to fear accordingly. Stress hormones are released and the heart rate is increased and your breathing is faster.

Your blood flow is also increased and it starts to flow down your limbs from the heart at a higher rate and you run for life. 

When you face a fear you do not think clearly 

When the part of your brain, the amygdala faces fear, the parts of the brain shut down and you cannot make decisions clearly. You are not able to rationalize that the fear is not real. This can make you scream in situations that are not scary at all. 

Why Facing A Fear Can Be Beneficial For You? 

However, we should not let our fears control our lives and we should learn that new things we encounter are not as dangerous as we think they are. 

When you start facing a fear, you can start with less scary situations and in time, step by step, you will build your confidence and you can even enjoy them. 

There are so many situations that are not so scary, like public speaking, which can prevent you from advancing in your career. So, facing fears can help you to: 

1. You develop bravery

One of the most important aspects of facing fears is developing bravery. Your courage needs to grow in life, and developed bravery will be a great reward after the terror you experienced with your fears.

2. You learn to be compassionate

When you learned how to face your own fears, you can even help others to overcome their fears when they experience similar situations.

3. You become wiser 

You have so much to learn from these experiences. Wisdom is a great quality to learn in life and is very much developed by facing your fears.

4. You become resilient 

When you face your fears, you transform yourself beyond your fear, and you become stronger, more successful, and resilient as a person, it is a great achievement in life. 

5. You reach your maximum potential 

When you face your fears you will see that you are more capable than you think. Your abilities are not limited as you thought they were. 

6. You learn how to control your mind 

When you fear you live in a negative mindset and you probably feel miserable. Negative thoughts like anxiety, anger, and fear can take over your life and happiness. 

When you replace them with positive thoughts, the fear becomes determination, and you replace all of your worries with hope. 

When Should You Face Your Fears?

Fear is in the simplest definition, the feeling of being afraid of something. But, there are some unrealistic fears, or imagined fears that are manifested in our minds and it is possible to overcome them. You just imagine the fear in your mind, but actually, there is not nothing to fear from. Some examples of imagined fear are: 

  • Fear of getting old
  • Fear of meeting new people
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of bugs
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of putting on weight

These fears are opposite of the realistic ones that are physical and where you can easily get harmed, like being in a house that has caught fire and there is a real chance that you will get hurt and your life is in danger. 

Facing A Fear Is Important Because It Can Be Transformed Into A Phobia

Overcoming fear is very important because it can make you feel anxious and the only way to deal with it is to face it. 

If your fear is not very traumatic, you can try some mindfulness meditation techniques. Learn how to smile at your fear every time appears unexpectedly, every time you recognize it. 

Fear can be transformed into a phobia

If you ask yourself what is the difference between fear and phobia, the answer can be very simple. Fear is a simple common reaction to a fearful event, while when you have a phobia, have difficulties functioning normally in some life situations and it lowers the overall quality of your life. 

Fear keeps us safe

In some cases, fear and phobias can be healthy, but in some others can influence your life negatively. If you have problems with your fears and phobias and they affect your life, it is best to speak to a therapist that can help you overcome your problem. 

7 Ways to Face Your Fears And Smile At Them When They Appear

1. Create a plan of action

When you are learning to face your fears, it is important to do this gradually, one step at a time. For instance, if someone had a fear of water and drowning, you simply wouldn’t throw them in the swimming pool – this could be extremely traumatic and make the phobia worse. Your plan of action may include assessing the risks of drowning, learning about the risks associated with different water spaces, going for a regular paddle, watching videos about swimming, going for a short boat ride, or even signing up for swimming lessons. Regularly taking one small step at a time can help you to overcome your fear gradually, without any external pressures. (1)

2. Learn about the thing you fear

Learning about the thing that you fear and evaluating the risks can be a healthy part of coping and overcoming them. For instance, if you are afraid of spiders, it might help to learn about their life cycles, their anatomy, their habitat, and how they have evolved. Understanding the risks is also important – the vast majority of spiders in America are completely harmless. Out of 3,000 species, there are only three that are poisonous. There are, on average, six people a year that die of a spider bite in comparison to 655,000 people that die of heart disease. It is important to remember too that many of the common things that we fear, such as public speaking, have no risk to health at all.  (2)

The moment you understand your limitations and anxieties is crucial for acting courageously and first step toward conquering them.
When the fear overwhelms you, try to understand, why it happens and take a few minutes to acknowledge the feelings. Become an emotional scientist. This will help you to overcome them more easily.

3. Use the exposure therapy technique

This technique is used in cognitive behavioral therapy.  Facing fears is called Exposure. It is a highly effective tool that includes gradually exposing someone to the fears he/she has. 

So, for example, if you fear speaking in public, you can start speaking in front of a group of small friends. 

Even just a 6 hours session can be useful and has effects, according to research. (3

4. Control your stress

Stress and fear are closely related and can, unfortunately, lead to many health conditions, but you can manage it easily using two mighty techniques to reduce stress meditation and exercise to reduce it. (4

You can also go into nature and look at these scenes of natural beauty that can provoke calmness, hope, and happiness. This reduces the production of stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate. 

5. Use positive self–talk 

Just use positive sentences to build your self–esteem and tell to yourself: 

I can do this. 

I have never done this before, but I will do it now. 

6. Practice deep breathing 

Take a deep breath, and make a pause. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, it is responsible for enjoyment, sleep and rest. 

So take a few slow deep belly breaths and put your hands on it, so you can watch it moving. It makes you feel relaxed and you will be able to think clearly. 

7. Seek professional help

If you are concerned that your fears or phobias are affecting your everyday life, it is important to seek professional help. Some specific phobias can be debilitating, and conquering fears on your own may not be an option. Therapy sessions can give you strategies to manage your anxiety and techniques for relaxation. Simply talking to someone can also help you to gain a more personal perspective of your fears so you can establish the root of the issue. Seeing a therapist can also help you to accept your fears and find ways to make them impact less on your life.

Facing your fears is important – simply avoiding them can cause more anxiety. You should seek to do this in a healthy way that will help you to move past the fears and live your life without worry.