Take control and become more confident
Facing my fear. When it comes to fear, a snake does it for me. I am afraid of snakes, especially those thick muscular types such as the constrictors, the pythons, the anacondas, and so on. Whenever I would see them, mostly on TV screens, my control and confidence would take a dive. I want to reduce my fear of them.
But, I am so repelled by their very muscularity, strength and the way they look and move. There is nothing I like about them at all. My distaste is visceral. My reaction, irrational and the idea of facing them fills me with dread. I perceive snakes as a threat to my very existence.
And that is the key word, perceive. It’s my perception. My thought. And it is that thought that drives my fear. If I can control the thoughts, then I can control my reactions. I can be more confident that I can handle things.
Think about the what-ifs
I’m one of those people who like to be prepared. So I do think about the what-if and plan for it. For instance, when I go (pre-pandemic) to a movie theatre or any other place where there are a lot of people in an enclosed space and limited exits, I tend to scan the area first, locate all the exits and position myself in such a way that I can easily get to an exit. Same thing with being on an plane. For one thing, fashion is out of the question. I wear sneakers or shoes that I can run in, or that will protect my feet in the unlikely event that I have to exit the aircraft via a rubber slide. I also wear trousers because I might have to climb over seats and people as I make my way to the closest exit!
Let your mind drift to the the worst case scenario and come up with a plan
Back to fear. So, in order to have a plan, it is necessary to identify the fear and the reason for it, and then come up with a plan. This is what I did, and no, I did not get a snake friend. Instead I let myself think about my worst case scenario. I let my mind go there.
I am in bed and wake up to find a huge snake in the room with me. The bedroom door is closed and the snake, which is at least 20 feet long and 12 inches wide is lying stretched out on the floor, between my bed and the door. The distance to the door is 6 feet. I lay there and try to think of the different ways to get to the door without the snake having a chance to wind its body around my foot or leg and start its deadly squeeze.
So, lying there going through different escape tactics, I face the fear, complete with racing heart. After several long agonizing minutes, I arrive at several options I would try if it ever came down to that. Somehow the panic begins to lessen.
Having a plan boosts your confidence
The point is that by going through this exercise, I’ve thought of the what-if scenario and developed a plan A, B, and C. The plans are filed away deep within the recesses of my mind and hopefully, if I am ever confronted with this type of thing, my brain will bring those plans to the forefront and I will act decisively.
So if there is something that frightens you, think about it. Examine it. Some may say that you are being pessimistic, fearful or paranoid by thinking of the what-ifs. I say no, you are not. It’s quite the opposite really. It takes courage to look fear in the face, and then decide what steps you can take to overcome or reduce that fear. Training yourself in this way makes you more prepared to handle whatever comes your way.
Being prepared reduces fear
Being prepared helps reduce the panic you feel. You won’t freeze like a deer in the headlights if something that frightens you becomes a reality. You won’t be paralyzed into doing nothing to help yourself. Those who have confronted their fears, even if it is just in the mind, (which is very powerful in itself), will be able to calm themselves, control their thoughts, and increase the chances of bringing plans A, B and C tucked away in your brain back to the forefront when needed.
So this is what has worked for me. If you are afraid of something, be it a thing, a person, or a situation, and are overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty and don’t know what to do, then try my method. It just might help you lose or reduce the fear and gain more confidence in your ability to cope.