5 Steps to Embrace and Overcome Fear

5 April 2022

Fear is an immensely strong word with high negative power. Do you notice the change on facial expression of the person you say the word fear to? And when you say the word fear, your heart feels a little pressed down? It’s like our body has a special sensor for this word. Even by speaking about it, gives us a shiver.

Our brain is wired to either freeze or flight when we confront with the emotion of fear. But, how come we react the same even though each of us fear different things? Emotions trigger reactions while incidents cause emotions. Therefore, the same reaction is triggered even though the incident that caused it can be different for everyone. Not just any incident, but one that causes deep impact to us.

Incidents like a bad relationship may cause sad or hurt emotion while fear is caused by traumatic incident. Trauma can be caused by level of impact on us or the number of occurrences of similar incidents. For example, one bad relationship that caused us to lose a loved one (deep impact) may escalate the sadness to fear. Or if we had multiple bad relationships (many occurrences)then we may fear of relationship.

When a traumatic incident happens, our brain works like a tape recorder to record the incident and the reaction. This is to protect us from going through that same incident again. In the future, when a similar incident happens, the brain recognises the pattern and automatically send a signal to freeze or flight. As we go through our life, we will be recording many of these events. What the brain cannot do is to reverse the recordings on its own.

For example, when I was about 7 years old I was chased by a pack of dogs. I jumped into the monsoon drain to hide. I can clearly remember how fierce, loud and big sized the dogs were in comparison to me as a child. That incident had traumatised me and I had been scared of dogs and even puppy since then. This has stopped me from going near any dogs and in many occasion cause some accidents that injure myself.

What I didn’t realise was my brain cannot undo this fear even though circumstances has changed. I am now in my 30s and bigger in size than the dogs. I also know how to protect myself better. But, the fear is so strong that I do not see this. Not until I reflect and have conscious awareness of the root of my fear. I also got myself peer coaching sessions and asked for my loved ones support to help me overcome this fear.

After about 3 months time, I am now able to hold and play with puppies. I no longer run away when I walk pass a dog on the street. I believe as time passes, my brain will record my comfort around dogs and delete this fear for me.

Here are the 5 steps to embrace and overcome fear:

  1. Understand the trigger of the fear

What incident or event caused the fear? Try remembering the first time you encounter it and reflect on how you feel about it. Think about what your brain is trying to protect you from and why? You have to first embrace it before you can overcome it. My brain was trying to protect me from the dogs. They are bigger size and I am helpless as a child

  1. Re-assess if this fear is still valid

Is the reason why the brain wants to protect you still valid and logical with the changes of circumstances over time? For me, it is no longer valid because I am a grown up now and I know how to protect myself. If the reason is not valid anymore, be fully aware about it.

  1. Consider the gain and opportunities

Think about the opportunities, gains and possibilities that you will receive when you overcome the fear. This helps to motivate you and further validate that this fear is no longer protecting you. It is stopping you from moving forward. It sends a message to your brain that this can be override because it will no longer harm you.

  1. Get support

Get people around you, family or friends to support you. My partner encourage me to touch a dog whenever we see one around us. He lets me know that they will be there if anything were to happen.

  1. Keep trying

It takes time, give yourself the space and time you need. Move forward a small step at a time. Very soon the step will become bigger and bigger until you overcome the fear.

To read more of my articles, visit www.passiolink.com.

Kareen Woo, ACC


Kareen ventured into the world of entrepreneurship early in her career and ran two start-ups. When she felt fulfilled, Kareen decided to return to the corporate world and sold both her businesses. In her corporate career, Kareen took on a variety of leadership roles. This included being the Customer Engagement…read more

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