A couple of weeks ago I blogged about fear stopping people from following their dreams. It was great to see people posting up comments, and talking about how they’d broken free of their fears, but it got me thinking about fear in general. What are people afraid of? I started doing some research, looking at the most common fears in Australia. On the surface people appear to be afraid of many and varied things, but there is one trait that is common to every fear. Do you know what that is? I’m going to go through the top ten fears of Australians. See if you can identify the common trait. Then I want to look at how you can conquer your fears.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the top ten fears in Australia are:
- Social Phobias
One in 20 Australians have a social phobia, meaning they get anxious in social situations. Most people are afraid of being judged by others.
- Agoraphobia: fear of open spaces
Some people actually avoid leaving their homes because they are afraid of the outdoors. This makes living a normal life impossible.
- Fear of heights
Acrophobia is a common affliction. People can become dizzy when confronted by heights.
- The fourth most common fear in Australia is fear of flying.
People are convinced their plane will crash, but you are much more likely to die in a car accident than plane accident.
- Claustrophobia is another big fear
People with this fear often literally feel like the room is closing in on them.
- Entomophobia: fear of insects
We live in a country full of creepy crawlies and yet many Australians are afraid of insects. What would the birds eat if there were no insects?
- Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes
In Aboriginal mythology snakes are linked to creation, but in European fables snakes are evil. We’ve all heard of the snake in the garden of evil, still I’m not bothered by them.
- Cynophobia: fear of dogs
Now that fear makes more sense than being afraid of snakes. Some dogs are big and fierce and have nasty sharp teeth.
- Astraphobia: the fear of storms
Storm season is here. Remember the kids in The Sound of Music were afraid of storms, and Julie Andrews told them to think of something nice when the thunder crashes and the lightning flashes.
- Trypanophobia: fear of needles
Don’t you hate it when you have to have an injection and you brace yourself never knowing if they are going to be gentle or rough? Worse still, is when you have to have an intravenous needle inserted and they dig and dig for a vein – sometimes trying multiple times to find one?
The Cause of Fear
Have you worked out what the common trait is to these fears? It is lack of control. People are afraid of all of these situations because there is an element they cannot control. You can’t control storms, snakes, dogs, planes, social situations or the outside environment. Regardless of what you are afraid of, at the base of your fear is a feeling that you don’t have total control. Some people even have a fear of losing control, often they are perfectionists. If you can face your fear rationally and accept that you are upset by this lack of control, you will find that the fear automatically reduces to some extent.
The Power of Belief
If you are religious, you have an advantage over non-believers in that those of us with faith never feel abandoned or totally at the mercy of the elements. We can call on God when we feel powerless. If you are not a believer then you are going to have to believe in yourself and trust in your own strength when you feel overwhelmed. You need to tell yourself that you can and will come through.
The AWARE Technique
A technique for dealing with fear is called the AWARE technique. ‘A’ stands for acceptance. Just accept that you are feeling frightened and anxious. Do not beat yourself up or be too hard on yourself. ‘W’ is for watch the fear. Step outside of yourself and observe yourself. Remind yourself that you are ultimately bothered by a lack of control. The next ‘A’ stands for act normal. Sometimes you have to fake being brave, but this works. We fool our self and feel better. ‘R’ stands for repeat the above. ‘E’ stands for expect the best. Do not think yourself into hysterics. Don’t tell yourself that the dog will attack, the poisonous snake will bite and you’ll never get out of the lift. I’ve told you many times, what you focus on will come to you!
Fear is Good
Do not let fear stop you from growing, achieving and being your best. Over-achievers accept that overcoming fears and taking risks is the only way to move forward and grow. Would you rather give up on your dreams than face your fears? Do not short-change yourself. Everyone has fears. It is totally normal, but do not curtail your plans because you can’t face your fears.
You can teach yourself to have courage. Repeat mantras to yourself. What do surfers say? Feel the fear and do it anyway! Read books on people who have beaten their fears, listen to inspiring music. Refuse to succumb to your fears. Develop a strategy to deal with your fears. Is there a friend you can call on for support? Focus on your goals. Write them down, carry them with you. Focus on what you want to achieve, not what frightens you.
Your Daily Routine
Finally, do one thing every day that scares you. It doesn’t have to be something big, but step outside of your comfort zone. Strike up a conversation with a stranger or go to a new place. If you aren’t the sporty type, then join a gym. Challenge yourself, and you will soon find that your fears grow smaller and smaller and then DISAPPEAR. Good luck! I like what the writer Veronica Roth said, “Fear doesn’t shut you down. It wakes you up!”
ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.