Overcoming fear requires that you must first understand the phases and how each manifests in your brain. Now, there are as many interpretations of this process as there are stimuli that create fear in the first place, so my intention is to provide some structure from which you can then plan your attack.
If you recall the first article I wrote on fear, phase 1 is dread. That feeling of impending doom that gnaws at your insides like a rat does cheese. This is the phase where your ability to think rationally begins to slip away either as a direct result of some external input.
The second phase of fear is paralysis. Whether this is an acute response to a critical incident or a prolonged or chronic condition you face, understanding how to push through the paralysis phase is a critical step to overcoming fear.
Paralysis can prevent you from taking a necessary action from which you are likely to benefit, yet cannot clearly see the outcome, and therefore pause and potentially cause irrevocable damage. We can’t think anymore.
The irony is that’s what everyone is afraid of, being paralyzed by fear.
Because of the psychological aspects of fear, you must be able to initialize a rational thought process during in order to avoid being completely paralyzed and unable to act. Again, there are very different and unique circumstances in every case. However, you can institute a mental practice which will provide you with an edge in the critical moment.
The process for overcoming fear and paralysis involves the mental practice of stress inoculation or stress inoculation training. There are a number of scholarly articles on this process and in my own development, I have utilized the processes developed by Professor Donald Meichenbaum in an ad hoc manner, however, my own theoretical practice is underpinned by his research.
When working to overcome fear or a stressor, for the purposes of what I am trying to convey in this article, you must first identify what the cause may be.
Is it an unrealistic belief of an imminent earthquake, being taken hostage or some other event?
SIT or stress inoculation training demonstrates that there are is no one “correct” way to cope with the diversity of stressors. What coping efforts may work in one situation or at one time may not be applicable at other times or in other situations.
Now, much of what Miechenbaum discusses is very clinical in nature and set in an environment with a client/trainer setting with long-term processes for identifying stress and fears which are more chronic in nature and addressing them by providing coping skills.
What I propose is there is a process you can use today to create a sort of practice, to ensure you have the courage to react when necessary.
It involves identifying potential situations you might reasonably find yourself confronted with and mentally preparing yourself by visualizing a course of action that produces a positive outcome.
Thus should the event occur, your mind will recognize the stimulus and you will react according to how you have practiced. This involves mental rehearsal and even physical rehearsal if you can create the scenario.
This kind of training has been used successfully by professional groups, such as probation officers, nurses, teachers, military personnel, psychiatric staff members, and disaster and safety workers.
I would encourage you to read more about stress inoculation as it relates to overcoming fear and developing a process for avoiding paralysis in an acute or chronic event in your life.
Resources – Meichenbaum Article