Rita was terrified of giving a presentation at work. Her throat was dry and her heart was pounding. She couldn’t think and felt like she was going to pass out. Fear took over and she was paralyzed.
Even though you can’t always control your initial reaction to fear, you can control your response to perceived fear. The biochemical reaction to fear lasts about 90 seconds, after that you have a choice. But you have to identify what you are fearful of in order to know how to stop ongoing fear.
Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that isn’t consciously triggered, but can be consciously extinguished. You can learn to turn off the fear response. It takes some work, but you can be free of fear that is unrelated to real time danger. If you are willing to face your irrational fears, you can overcome them.
Teach yourself to relax and calm down—deep breathing, meditate on the Word, practice muscle relaxation or any calming method that requires the physical body to relax. This is key to breaking the conditioning of fear. Train your mind and body to relax in order to turn off fear and anxiety responses.
Take your thoughts captive. Unlearn the fearful thoughts that triggers the fear reaction. Think about the feared object and do self-talk.
“This isn’t going to hurt me. There is no imminent danger. I can do this. I can face this fear.”
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and a sound mind (need to take thoughts captive). When the thoughts associated with fear are irrational, replace them with truth.
Fear can also be rooted in a lack of trust in God, feeling alone or not having the resources to deal with problems. God is a never-ending resource. Call on His name anytime you feel afraid. When fearful thoughts enter your mind, put on the mind of Christ. Rehearse His promise to keep you in perfect peace if you keep your mind stayed on Him. If you need additional resources to deal with fear, seek help from your community, church or a social worker.
Allow yourself to be exposed to the feared object and move through the fear response. Face the fear, be exposed to it, take charge of your thoughts to overcome fear. A therapist trained in exposure therapy can help with this.
Fear is a response that helps us survive when we are in danger. Fear is helpful when we need to run away from a dangerous situation or be more cautious. However, being gripped by fear when there is no immediate fear event leads to anxiety. Fear left unchecked results in phobias, PTSD, anxiety panic disorders, etc. So, pay attention to fearful thoughts and work on moving through the fear rather than avoiding it. Once you expose yourself to the fear and see that nothing terrible happens, it will boost your confidence and allow you to master that fear.