Amelia Gillis, LMHC
Guided by Fear
Lisa is a new mother at the age of 34. She and her husband have been trying for years to have their first child. Lisa is having a hard time adjusting to life as a mother. She questions her ability to care for her child in the best way. Lisa friend's always applauds her for her work as a new mother. With all this praise, she is afraid to tell them that she is struggling. Lisa is suffering with guilt and shame causing her to be depressed. Her husband has offered to have their close friends and parents come assist them. However, Lisa has refused help on several occasions. Lisa is afraid that her friends would look at her with judgement. She is embarrassed to have anyone help her because of what that might make her look like.
The driving force
We have been given psychological responses that assist us in our processing of our experiences. These are known as emotions. Emotions are the body's way of telling us what it is that we need. One of those emotions is called fear. Fear is normal. It is a biological response that was designed to protect us from danger. Fear is like a compass. It guides us in this journey called life. It guides our decisions about what is safe and what isn't.
However, fear can sometimes work in overtime. It can alert us to danger that doesn't really exist. We have particular fears that keep us stuck in the same cycle. Such fears like fear of rejection, fear of criticism, and fear of failure can become the driving forces behind our patterns. This is how we become trapped in our fears. We allow fear to drive us. It can hinder us and cause us to miss out on opportunities. It can even cause us to be blind to our own abilities.
Are you in danger?
Fear is instinct. However, it doesn't always provide an accurate assessment of danger. Sometimes the biological response is in overload and we feel afraid when there is little to no danger present. Sometimes fear isn't about the physical harm but the emotional harm we are afraid of. This response happens when we feel that we might be rejected, embarrassed, or even consider inadequate.
Fears prevents us from trying new things, connecting with others, making changes.
We become reluctant because the risk seems too great. However, are you really in danger or is your emotional distress signal in overload?
Is it helpful or accurate?
Fears are based on cognitive distortion. Fears are made up of distorted thoughts. These are the negative automatic thoughts we develop based upon an experience. Therefore our behavior is driven by our thoughts. Therefore, if we can't get past a certain point we must check to see if we are being driven by fear. Lisa was afraid of being embarrassed therefore she rejected help that she desparately needed. What have you rejected because of fear? Was it purpose?
What dream have you stop pursuing or relationship have you let go because fear took over? What job have you decided not to apply for because of fear? Fear was designed to be helpful not keep you stuck in a negative pattern that isn't working for you. I challenge you to challenge your thoughts of fear and replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts.
Challenge your Fears
Remember, fears aren't always a true indicator/assessment of danger. So we must make sure we challenge our distortions. One skill you can use to support you in this process is the ability to reframe your thoughts. Cognitive reframing, can support you in this process of challenging your fears. Notice your fear, challenge your negative thought, and replace your fears with more realistic thoughts.