With the exception of truly dangerous situations, most of our fears are based on past experience and our interactions with others. From the perspective of evolution, fear and learned responses ensured the survival of our species. Rarely though, do we take time to evaluate whether our fears are legitimate, productive, or even truly protective. Exploring long-held fears in the context of our present lives and how these continue to influence our choices and behavior can be challenging and insightful; yet rewarding, and inspiring! Try to answer the following questions with as much accuracy as possible. If at any time this feels too overwhelming, STOP!!! Take time to do something relaxing. You may need to wait for a better time or set aside time to discuss these in individual sessions.
I’d like to tell my partner how I really feel about my job, but I’m afraid I’ll be ridiculed.
I want to work again as a nurse but I’m afraid if I interview, my weight will keep me from being hired.
I’d like to be able to share what I feel but _______________________________________
I’d like to have more friends to talk to but_______________________________________
I’d like to go more places but ________________________________________________
I’d like to work (in/with/at) but _______________________________________________
I’d like to try ________but I’m afraid that ______________________________________
Examining fears and our “conditioned” responses isn’t much fun, and if anything; we may feel worse (at first). However, the benefit of bringing our fears out of our subconscious and sharing them with people we trust, is we learn we’re not alone! Most people find it hard to be vulnerable and share deep feelings or behaviors we realize are unhealthy.
We’re not unique with regard to our thoughts and feelings, and we certainly don’t need to feel ashamed! It also helps to recognize that some of our fears likely kept us safe. They helped us recognize and possibly avoid situations that might be unpleasant, abusive, dangerous, or even life-threatening. This next exercise in recognition identifies common fears. Looking back, as well as now, write about how any of these impact your thoughts, important life choices and/or your relationships with others.