Overcoming Dysfunctional Fear: A Lifelong Process of Change

Overcoming Dysfunctional Fear: A Lifelong Process of Change

Fear is probably the emotion that most conditions us and that is behind many of our usual problems and limits.

We have very common fears of loneliness, of losing, of risking, of not feeling loved, of rejection or of suffering. Fear is also behind feelings such as guilt, insecurity, anxiety, anguish or even anger. However, the problem is not fear… but your way of managing and understanding that fear.

Fear is a useful emotion and one that serves us mainly for survival. When we talk about “negative emotions”, we are not really referring to the emotion itself but to the way we manage and understand that emotion . It serves to protect you and to be clear about your limits, and it is even common to educate children using fear as a strategy to keep them safe.

The problem is when fear is trying to protect you from a situation that is not really dangerous and is only limiting your life. If you live with that kind of fear, it is a dysfunctional fear .

What is a dysfunctional fear?

When your way of understanding and managing your emotions leads to dysfunctional fears (or anger, guilt, stress, anxiety, etc.), it means that those emotions are not helping you to grow, to know yourself better and to live more well, but only are limiting your life .

Dysfunctional fear is the basis of the vast majority of problems. Anger is a form of active fear (when you can’t avoid what you’re afraid of, you react with anger to try to get control). Guilt is also a form of fear (because you fear the consequences on you or your self-image). Suffering, anxiety or anguish are also forms of fear (which create a more unpleasant physiological state in you… it is fear taken to a higher intensity).

How to overcome dysfunctional fear?

At certain moments in our life we want to live a process of deep change because there are situations or experiences that are repeated and are usually unpleasant, as if we lived in a circle from which we cannot get out.

This can happen to us both in our personal life (family, couple, in relation to self-esteem, etc.) and in our professional life (in relation to undertakings, projects, with the work team, etc.). Whatever the problem, dysfunctional fear is always behind these problems.

In the last 10 years I have accompanied as a psychologist and coach people from several different countries in very deep change processes. Sooner or later, whatever the process, people had to face certain fears in order to overcome them . However, the key was not to overcome those fears as if they were enemies (since they are part of oneself), but to understand one’s emotions more deeply and to know how to manage them in a more functional way.

This is not something that can be achieved in a few days (with books, talks and other resources that are interesting but do not help to achieve real change on their own) but in a series of weeks or a few months through a deep, committed and companionable process that allows you to broaden your point of view and better understand that fear so that your emotions are on your side instead of against you .

This is what a process of emotion management (also called “emotional intelligence”) really consists of. It is not about following advice or tips, but about living a process of change where your emotions come out and you know how to understand and manage them. Your fears, in reality, are only giving you information about yourself , and when you understand it, everything that happens to you will change.

A process of emotional training

I invite you to visit empoderamientohumano.com, the online personal development school I created to accompany people who want to live their change process with expert company and from home and with freedom of schedule. In the school you will find a free program called Emociónate to take the first steps, and also a 3 month deep change program.

How does a change process work to overcome fear? This personal evolution follows these steps:

1- Learning to understand your emotions

This is how you find out how you manage them now: in this phase it’s a matter of getting to know yourself better and answering key questions that help you deepen your emotions

2. Design an action plan that helps you manage your emotions differently

This translates into changes in relation to what you do, interpret and feel. From this moment you discover the relationship between your emotions and your beliefs, your way of communicating, your personal relationships, your work or your self-esteem.

3. Managing relationships

Finally, you learn to manage your emotions in a more functional way so that fear is left far behind, and you internalize it in your life so that this change lasts forever.

In a few weeks the changes are already felt and after 3 months the fear is still there, but it no longer dominates your life. That’s the key: don’t fight your emotions, but understand them and have them on your side. Emotions are only your travel companions and the fundamental energy on which your behavior is based.

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