The Folly of Fear

I have spent the last twenty years of my life serving people as a professional counsellor. Thirteen of those years specializing in treating people with debilitating anxiety, stress and depression. It continues to be the most challenging and rewarding calling of my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others overcome their fears. I myself suffered from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. I grew up being programmed to behave apprehensively. It used to be automatic for me to assume the worst case scenario. I could have taught a course on how to worry destructively.

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I am pleased to state I have been fully recovered for years now. For all those anxiety sufferers, please know there is hope. Full recovery is possible! I see it in my clients all the time. There are however a select few who really struggle with applying the cognitive strategies. They rock the physical and struggle with the cognitive. Why? They have become afraid of feeling afraid. They struggle with obsessive intrusive fear thoughts all day long. It begins nearly the moment they wake until they are able to fall asleep again.

There are two primary types of fear responses: instinctive and learned. We are all instinctually afraid of death, pain and suffering, rejection, loss of freedom, and loss of worth. We learn to become afraid of many triggers that connect to those instictive fears. Suffice it to say that extinguishing these learned fears is difficult to say the least. But, with patience, trust and persistence those fears CAN be extinguished.

Many ask, “why I am always trying to figure things out?” It’s a great question. Fear is compelling. Fear compells us to figure out how to stop the feeling. We often choose to resist or fight the fear, run from it and/or are often paralyzed by it. Again, fear is compelling. The fear centre in our brain is designed to get our attention and motivate us to do something about it. Our most natural response is to react in one of those three ways.

There is however a fourth option. We have the option of choosing to intentionally contain our response. We have the power to choose. No matter how compelling fear is, we can choose to respond with calm passive acceptance. In order for us to extinguish fear we must choose over and over again to passively accept the emotional arousal response of fear. It’s a biochemical response based on the context of our experience and/or perception. What if our experience and/or perception is distorted?

This is perhaps the greated folly of fear. Just because we can think something fearfully and feel the emotional response of fear, does not mean the thought is automatically true. When we allow ourselves to believe the feeling is always reflective of truths, we deceive ourselves. Feelings are not facts. They are only reflections of our thoughts. My friends do not fall for the folly of fear. Fear controls only when we allow it. #justsayno



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