The fear factor
We are all born with the ability to fear. Many of our fears are learned. Others come from our own unique personality. Many people have common fears. My family and I fear spiders. Sometimes a person's fear can overtake their life. Kylie began to lose her sight in her early 40s. She was scared of what other people would now think of her. She struggled to learn how to live with her vision loss. Kylie decided to see a counsellor. Over time she became more confident and learned to manage her fears. I am still learning how to manage my fear of spiders.
Posted by: Kate Giles, on 22/05/12
Fear can overwhelm us.
Well-known English actress, Helen Mirren, once said
Fear sometimes stops you from doing stupid things. But it can also stop you from doing creative or exciting or experimental things.... The control and understanding of our personal fears is one of the most important undertakings in our life.
Psychologists say we are born with just two fears: The fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. All other fears come through our beliefs and experiences.
Our sense of fear comes out of a blend of our own unique character and temperament and how this has been mediated by our environment including family, cultural background, peers etc, says Melbourne psychotherapist Carole Viney.
In my own family, a morbid fear of spiders is tradition. I still remember my sister opening the car door, ready to jump out. We were travelling at 100 kilometres an hour. She would rather take her chances with the road, than remain in the car with a spider. It took quite a bit of convincing for her not to jump. Both my grandmother and mother would have done exactly the same thing.
A fear of spiders is not unusual. Some other common fears are that of snakes and other creepy crawlies. Sometimes it's not the fact that they may harm us, but more because such fears tend to stimulate our imagination.
Disability and fear
Kylie was diagnosed with severe vision loss in her early 40s. No longer being able to drive or work took a toll on Kylie's confidence. A lack of understanding within her family and friends also impacted on her self-esteem and increased her fears.
I used to be so well organised and very capable. But I began to struggle with doing the simplest of things. No-one seemed to understand my difficulties. I became severely depressed.
Sometimes our fears become so overwhelming and disruptive to our life that professional help may be sought. It took a good counsellor to allow Kylie to see where her fears were coming from.
I didn't realise I was so bound by what the world thought of me. I had spent my whole life trying to please everyone. And now because of my disability, I had this immense fear I would be rejected if I didn't continue to live up to everyone's expectations. And so, the choices I made were not necessarily the best ones for trying to deal with my vision loss, says Kylie.
Carole believes the opinions others have of us can strongly influence our feelings of self-worth.
A fear of being judged negatively by others definitely influences our choices in life, she says.
Carole goes on to say,
Dealing with our fears requires being able to create a space between 'the fears' and yourself in order not to be high jacked or overwhelmed by them.
Working through fear
Becoming more aware of ourselves and our needs also lessens our fear. We begin to work things out. We learn to think more positively. We also learn to act more confidently. And after a while, negative self-talk begins to subside. Becoming more aware of ourselves and those around us can be a life changing experience.
For Kylie, changing her thinking was key to managing her fears.
I found the key to being able to understand and handle my fears is to be comfortable with who I am and what I do. My confidence has greatly improved. I now know that learning new skills and experiencing new things involves risks. As well as testing your own limits, taking risks tests other people's boundaries.
Kylie says seeking professional help was her best move. She no longer fears what other people think. She is too busy learning new ways to deal effectively with her vision loss.
And as for me I would like to say I have overcome my fear of spiders. However, that is not quite right. Smaller ones are OK. But then every time I see a big spider, I know I still have some way to go.
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