By Kristen Sohlman, HBA, RP
For some, Halloween is a time to enjoy the colours of the Fall season, to feel the joy of dressing up, to go trick or treating, and to get to know your neighbours and community in a different way! Some mental health professionals believe that Halloween is an opportunity for creativity and for children to safely explore any possible feelings of fear connected to scary things safely with friends and family. But what can you do when Halloween is over, and your fears turn out to be more than scares of a holiday season?
The type of fear I am referring to is not the fear from an actual scary situation, but an irrational fear that seems to rule your thinking, that can negatively affect your ability to cope with life’s experiences, and prevents you from living a productive, healthy, and growth-enhancing life. Fears can present themselves in a variety of packages including fears of places, animals, objects, people, events, atmosphere, family members, disasters, illness, public speaking, authority, or the unknown. The difficulty with fear is that it can immobilize you, prevent you from trusting others, prevent you from letting go or changing, can make you resistant, can stifle your motivation, keeps you locked in self-destructive behaviour, and prevents you from believing in yourself!
How do I confront my fear?
1. Begin by taking an inventory or journaling the fears in your life. You cannot change a fear unless you are aware of what you are dealing with. Try rating your fears in order of intensity from small to intense fear.
2. Next, explore your motivation to confront your fear: Ask yourself how real are your fears, how much power do these fears have in your life, and how do these fears impact you as a person? Consider whether your fear affects your self-image, self-esteem, and whether they mobilize you or immobilize you. Also consider how long you have had these fears, what emotions does fear block, and what you can do to overcome your fear.
3. Once you have explored your fear and your motivation for confronting your fear, convince yourself of the importance of needing to address your fear. Consider the following:
5. Consider using some other tools from your mental health tool box in order to overcome fear such as: addressing irrational beliefs, positive self-talk, self-affirmations, addressing guilt, insecurity, build trust, practice letting go, engaging in managing stress, develop a sense of spirituality, become a healthy risk taker, and accept change.
6. As you begin to address you fear, you begin a journey of getting to know yourself and begin to work towards a better and new you!
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