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The Fear Factor

Fear is an emotion caused by anticipated danger. We all have fears. It is a natural part of human existence and a response to perceived physical and emotional danger.  Some fears can be helpful in that they alert us to danger. But often we fear situations that are in no way life-or-death, yet they somehow have power over our thoughts and behaviors.

In an innovative test of what people fear the most, Bill Tancer, author of Click: What millions of people are doing online and why it matters, analyzed the most frequent online search queries that involved the phrase, "fear of...”. This follows the assumption that people tend to seek information on the issues that concern them the most.  According to his study, the top ten list of fears were flying, heights, clownsintimacydeathrejection, people, snakes, success and driving.  Do you share any of these same fears?

Whether your fear is of spiders, tunnels, storms, fires, airplanes, public speaking, failure, social interactions, exams, needles or whatever the fear, it can become terrifying and overwhelming. It can produce an enormous amount of anxiety and may even lead to panic attacks. 

We often make decisions based on fears. For example, if you make the “wrong” decision, then you might feel like a failure.  I believe we are either coming from a place of love or fear. We start doubting ourselves and then the negative thoughts and fears begin to play in our minds. 

If we face fear, it tends to shrink. If we refuse to face it, it grows.  It doesn’t happen instantly or automatically. It is a result of deliberate intention and conscious action toward doing what scares you. As a result of working through your fears, you grow as a person and expand the possibilities that surround your life. 

Here are a few immediate steps to start:

  1. Identify and acknowledge your fears:  Make a list of what scares you. 
  2. Look at when it started: Were you a child or an adult? Was there a traumatic event or situation?
  3. How has it affected your life? Decide and commit to whether or not you want to work through the fear. 
  4. Face it head-on. Work on your thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs around the fear. Most importantly, believe you can overcome it. Doubt is like cancer; don’t give it power. Decide today that you can and will overcome your fears.  It really is all about facing them to overcome them.



-Kristen D Boice M.A., LMFT, EMDR Trained

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