Fear is an essential part of the human condition that’s deeply rooted in our most primal instincts. For most of the hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution, this was a very good thing: It was necessary for our very survival.
In most parts of today’s modern world, however, we’re no longer subject to the bulk of the dangers these instincts originally developed to protect us from. This means that fear often manifests itself in unexpected or just plain bizarre ways, such as a fear of rejection or a fear of learning a new skill.
Whether you frequently experience butterflies in your stomach when you meet a new person, a sense of panic when you’re forced out of your comfort zone or just a general reluctance to try something new and adventurous, conquering fear of the unknown can help you live a more fulfilled and enriched life. Below, we dig into some of the unnecessary fears many of us tend to experience, as well as a few ways to overcome them.
Healthy fear is completely normal
Everyone experiences fear differently, but there are a few key distinctions between a fear that’s healthy (i.e. related to immediate, real danger), versus a fear that’s unfounded, restricting and/or causes feelings of frustration and shame.
“To fear is to be human,” explains Darren Tay, the first Singaporean World Champion of Public Speaking 2016. “However, it is precisely because fear is such an unwanted and uncomfortable experience that individuals tend to resist fear and/or run away from it.”
“Instead of trying to get rid of the butterflies in the stomach, we should use proven methods to make those butterflies fly in formation.”
This statement rings true for anything from a fear of heights to a fear of public speaking — something Tay clearly knows a thing or two about.
When it comes to the more manageable forms of fear – i.e. fears that prevent us from pursuing passions or taking calculated risks – many of them are rooted in metaphorical leaps of faith (although, if you have a fear of skydiving, the leap may be literal). But there are major repercussions to letting fear run our lives; imagine, after all, a world in which the Wright brothers had never taken to the skies.
“Indeed, fear is not something that we can get rid of,” Tay adds. “Instead of trying to get rid of the butterflies in the stomach, we should use proven methods to make those butterflies fly in formation.”
How to conquer fear
If fear is holding you back from pursuing your full potential, there are a few steps you can take to actively combat these illogical emotions. Below are three tips for dealing with fear.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness may sound like something that belongs in the midst of conversation at a hipster coffee shop, but it’s more than just a trend: it’s a time-tested method of self-improvement and awareness. It’s defined as “a state of open, active attention on the present.” Here are a few ways to get started practicing mindfulness exercises; naturally anxious persons may find deep breathing particularly helpful.
Face your fear in a virtual capacity: Virtual reality therapy is a new, exciting form of treatment used to address everything from PTSD to debilitating phobias. But a condition doesn’t need to be clinical in order for virtual reality to prove an effective tool for overcoming a fear. For less extreme cases, virtual reality as a form of gamification can be a useful way to face everyday fears and explore new worlds. After all, “face your fears” has long been a mantra of self-help gurus – and today, this is more easily accomplished than ever before, without any of the concrete risks or constraints of the physical world. Samsung’s #BeFearless app, for example, can help you kick-start a journey of overcoming your fear of heights or fear of public speaking. Check it out and sign up on the Samsung website here. Or, take a peek at Samsung’s latest VR products to find out how you can test out some of today’s most advanced VR technologies.*
Start small and improve incrementally. In an article featured on Psychology Today, Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, discusses a few expert suggestions for handling fear. Among them, he lists “exposing yourself” to new situations as well as “thinking small.” For example, for those with a fear of public speaking may start by giving a toast at a more intimate gathering among friends, and progress from there. These first, tentative measures are necessary baby steps towards overcoming the larger issues.
Fear is an unavoidable part of life, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. Focus on conquering unhealthy fears in order to learn how to live your best life.
*Not intended for use in detection, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring or management of any medical condition or disease. Any health-related information accessed should not be treated as medical advice. Users should seek medical advice from a physician.