The Cure for Fear is a Little Fear

February 7, 2014

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Psychiatric reference books has 2,000 classified fears including photophobia: the fear of pictures, arachibutyrophobia: the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth, and phobiaphobia: the fear of phobias.

But psychiatrists would say that we were born with only 2 fears: the fear of falling & loud noises. That means every other fear is learned, so if fear is learned, it too can be unlearned.

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I hate cockroaches. Although I can kill one easily, I would let our house-help kill them for me. But during our first five years of marriage, a time when we moved every year (five different houses in 5 years), we rented an old house that was full of roaches. One weekend, our helper didn’t go home permanently. She just left a text message indicating she wouldn’t be coming back. At first I thought it was okay, until nighttime came, when all the cockroaches played.

It was either Kat, my wife, who would fend off the pest attack or ME. Well, Kat used her girl card. “Isn’t it the job of men to kill cockroaches?” So I got my slippers to work. It was so bad that there were times I had to kill 5 big cockroaches in an hour. The worst part is not the killing. It’s actually taking the dead carcass with a tissue to the trashcan while their antennas moved. Oh I hate those days! Finally, after several times of cockroach killing, I built a resistance to the fear of cockroaches. Whenever I see one at home, I would instantly go for the kill.

When we got a new helper, I reverted back to my old ways. I would call our helper to do the dirty job of killing cockroaches. You know what happened? My fear returned. How? Because I stopped doing what I thought I couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

My point: The cure for fear is a little fear. You’ve got to expose yourself in small quantities of whatever you’re afraid of to build up immunity. But don’t stop or you will go back to square one.

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If you are afraid of investing and losing your money, invest in small amounts to build your confidence.

If you’re afraid to speak in public, do it first with a group of 5 people, then with 10, then with 50. Or better yet, talk regularly to yourself in the mirror, just make sure no one is watching.

Remember your first Roller Coaster ride? The first one almost gave you a heart attack. But after the first one, you want to ride again. (At least that was my experience). After fear comes fun. In fact, our scariest experiences were almost always the greatest. And the scariest experiences gave us the best stories.

To have strong faith, unlearn your fears by confronting them, but do it consistently one small piece/step at a time. You might be surprised just how irrational your fear was.

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