Fear. It’s more than a reaction to a scary movie. Fear is a deep-seated emotion that leads to anxiety and worries, with the added component of adrenaline guaranteed to keep your heart in your throat and your palms sweaty. Fear can also be crippling, taking over your mind, body, and soul.

But did you know there’s more to fear than meets the eye? If you think you understand fear, read on to discover seven truths about fear you might not have realized.

Fear Can Be Good for You

There are times in our lives when we’re supposed to be afraid. Fear is what keeps us from jumping off of cliffs and doing other things that might hurt us. Fear also alerts us to danger, helping us to stay safe.

Fear Has Levels

Fear ranges from feeling a moment of trepidation all the way to full-on panicked flight. The level you’re at is determined by the type of danger you perceive.

You’re Not Born with Fear

Fear is generally taught by experience and from the lessons given by those around us through observation. You also learn fear from your parents and teachers when they teach us things like “Stranger Danger” or how to cross a street safely. Some fears are perfectly reasonable, rational, and necessary, while others, like phobias, might be unrealistic and even ridiculous.

Fear Doesn’t Need Danger

Phobias, anxiety, and catastrophizing can be the result of the poor teaching you’ve had in your life. In more extreme cases, you can suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or panic attacks, which might seem to come out of nowhere.

Fear Feeds on Itself

If you’re already afraid, you can wind yourself up easily into a higher state of fear. The more you concentrate on it, the bigger it grows.

Fear Likes to Be in Charge

Fear is one of those emotions which wants to dictate what you’re going to do next. The problem is, we tend to let it. Fear is a strong motivator to do things. The problem? Sometimes the things fear would have us do are unnecessary or might even hold you back from trying something new.

Fear Builds Heroes

When you’re afraid and act anyway, you discover the secret to courage. This is where heroes are born. The bigger the fear, the more heroic the fight. So, don’t let fear hold you back. Become the hero you’ve always been meant to be.

5 Ways to Master the Emotion of Fear

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”— Henry Ford

Thunderstorms. Spiders. Heights. Everyone is afraid of something. And while we don’t always enjoy being scared, it can serve a purpose.

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Fear is what keeps us safe. It warns us of impending danger, so we can take the necessary action to protect ourselves. The problem is, sometimes we react fearfully to things which really can’t harm us at all. Then it becomes necessary to master the emotion of fear.

Easier said than done? Try these tips:

Document the Fear

There’s nothing you can do about fear if you don’t have a clear understanding of what exactly you’re afraid of, and why this bothers you. Writing this down allows you to explore your fear in more detail. Many times when we see our fears written out, we realize they’re not as bad as we thought they were.

Enjoy the Fear

Yes, you heard correctly. Embrace your fear. Accept it as part of who you are. Your fear is normal and probably something other people are afraid of too. When you stop being afraid of your fear, you’ll find it’s much easier to handle.

Ignore the Fear

Do something else. Don’t like thunderstorms? Grab a book and some headphones and immerse yourself in something else for a bit. Just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean you need to pay attention to your fear whenever it resurfaces.

Confront the Fear

Why are you letting your fear take over your life? If you find you’re avoiding certain situations just because of your fear, you’ve allowed it to be in control. It’s time to confront it, face-to-face. If you don’t like heights, find ways to visit high places, such as visiting a tall building and going up one floor at a time to look out the window. Don’t like spiders? Put one in a terrarium and live with it. By taking small steps to confront your fear, eventually, it will lose its power over you completely.

Banish the Fear

By practicing mindfulness, you can shove the fear out of your head and return to the here and now. There’s no room for fear at this moment.

Fear is an insidious thing, but you don’t have to live with it if you don’t want to. Remember, you are in control of your emotions; your emotions do not control you. And be sure to celebrate every instance where you successfully confront your fear. It’s in those instances where you prove just how truly brave you are.

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