I have a lot of fears. Some are your average fears, rejection, injury, injuring others, embarrassment, you know, the usual. Some are straight up phobias, insects, tight spaces, and the like. Some of these fears keep me from doing things that other people normally enjoy; lately I’ve decided to try and combat these fears.
I guess the first question that one must pose when trying to face fear is: What exactly is fear? We feel fear because of a neurochemical rush designed by evolution to keep us from sticking around in a bad situation, the flight portion of the fight or flight reflex. Imagine: man sees saber tooth cat, has to decide whether to fight or not, cat roars, man is gone. If he doesn’t run he’s an idiot and dies without passing on his genetic material. It seems like a simple process.
The problem is that at some point mans started engaging in higher levels of cognition, and was suddenly capable of psychologically creating fear. Think about it, OCD stems from an individual’s fear that something bad will happen if they cannot complete their ritual, hoarding is a form of OCD in which a person fears not having something they need, so they keep everything.
Knowing that fear can be a natural reaction to a threat or a psychological phenomenon is merely a fraction of the battle. Knowing why the neurochemicals flow will not make the stop, but it may help to cope. If one can acknowledge that a fear is purely psychological, they can begin to retrain themselves to remain calm, or at least to expect the rush and deal with it with a calm demeanor.
This all sounds great, and admittedly it is easier to say these things than to do them. I may never conquer my irrational fear of grasshoppers. (Good thing my new apartment is right next to a big freaking field) I may not be comfortable in confined spaces, but I can certainly try.