Your fears may feel irrational, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Whether they are a simple fear of thunderstorms or more serious, debilitating phobias such as social anxiety or agoraphobia, these fears can be very disruptive to your life.
Sometimes fear is healthy, for example when it cautions you to take more care around a dangerous situation. But other times fear can keep you from achieving your goals.
1. Fear of Change
Change is a natural part of life, and some level of anxiety is normal for most people. However, if a fear of change becomes overwhelming and begins to interfere with daily functioning, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional.
Anxiety related to changes can be aggravated by focusing on what could go wrong, or if a person is unable to accept that they are not in control of all outcomes. This can lead to feelings of powerlessness and an inability to cope with stressful situations. A therapist can teach strategies to help overcome a fear of change, including learning how to be comfortable with uncertainty, using visualisation techniques and having a back-up plan.
It is important to remember that although change can be scary, it is also an opportunity for growth and personal development. It can also be helpful to talk through fears with friends family and a therapist who can provide support perspective and guidance. This is especially true if a fear of change is causing someone to avoid important opportunities or creating stress in relationships.
2. Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is a normal human response, but when it prevents you from trying new things or pursuing your goals, it may be time to address the underlying issues. Often, the fear of failure is a result of negative experiences or traumas. For example, if you were humiliated in front of a crowd as a child, the thought of being embarrassed in a public situation may trigger your fear of failing.
In some cases, a fear of failure can become a serious phobia called atychiphobia, which can interfere with your ability to live a happy and healthy life. A mental health professional can help you determine if your irrational fears are causing a significant impact on your life and provide treatment if needed.
Practicing mindfulness, challenging negative self-talk and developing positive relationships are all great ways to work on your fear of failure. Additionally, retraining your thoughts to think of setbacks as valuable learning opportunities can also help you overcome this common fear. For instance, many famous entrepreneurs have experienced a lot of failure before they succeeded.
3. Fear of Loss
The fear of loss, or losing control, can be experienced in many different ways. You may fear losing control of your mind, emotions, reactions, behaviours and even bodily functions e.g. bladder or bowel. You might also feel the fear of losing control of a particular situation such as a work meeting, presentation or formal social event. You might over-plan, obsess and overthink the situation, leading to a sense of anxiety and stress.
The feeling of fear of loss can be particularly painful when it is associated with people you love. If you find that your fear of loss is overshadowing your life, it might be helpful to talk with a therapist.
The first step in overcoming this type of fear is to recognise that there are some things that we can’t control, such as death and suffering. Then you can try to learn how to manage these feelings, and perhaps practice the art of acceptance. This can help you to live your life more fully and make the most of your relationships. It can also improve your overall mental health, which has a positive effect on all aspects of your life.
4. Fear of Failure in Relationships
The fear of failure in relationships is quite common and can keep you from finding love. It’s important to recognize that failing is part of life and can be a useful experience for learning and growing.
The fear can stem from a variety of sources, including having high standards that are difficult to live up to or past experiences that were painful and demoralizing. Often, people with this type of fear develop unhealthy beliefs about what they think is possible or about themselves.
Changing these beliefs and adopting healthy behaviors, such as identifying self-sabotaging thoughts or avoiding situations that may lead to anxiety, can be helpful for managing anxiety. Getting help from a therapist that can use a technique such as exposure therapy to gradually and repeatedly expose you to your fears while examining the related thoughts and ideas, is another option.
In addition, focusing on what is within your control and embracing a more optimistic view of the future can help to ease your anxieties. Creating alternative plans for situations that might not go as you planned can also be a helpful way to reduce your feelings of inadequacy.
5. Fear of Loss of Control
In extreme cases people develop a severe fear of loss of control, or overcontrol. They may have experienced trauma (e.g., cult experience, early religious trauma) or simply been raised in a very controlled environment where they learned to be over-controlled. In some cases this coping style can be useful, but in others it becomes debilitating and prevents positive growth.
This type of fear tends to be linked with specific phobias and other anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and PTSD. It’s also a significant feature in OCD and has been linked with the emergence of obsessions.
In therapy, it can be helpful to explore beliefs that are linked with this fear. Often they involve a misinterpretation of certain physiological sensations (e.g., a racing heart), or of emotional responses like anger. Taking the time to explore these and work on them is usually a worthwhile endeavor. The key is to learn what is within and outside of your control, and strategically let go of the things you can’t control.