If you're struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, chances are that fear is something you also struggle with! The thoughts, symptoms, and sensations we experience when we're scared can often feel dangerous, even when we know it's "just" anxiety. And that's why I think this is such an important topic to talk about!
Aliza Shapiro is joining me for this episode, because she's an expert in facing fear! Aliza is a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety and other related disorders. I asked her some questions about how those of us struggling with anxiety can work with fear, and even make it our friend! She has so much wisdom to share, so let's get started!
Facing Fear, Discomfort, and Uncomfortable Thoughts with Aliza Shapiro
How You Can Befriend Fear and Discomfort
Aliza shared an Instagram post on how our emotions are telling us things, and how anxiety is just fear that's been pushed beneath the surface for too long. This resonated with me so much, and I know it will for you, too! But this is why it's so important to remember that when we're trying to heal, we're not aiming to not have fear. Instead, we want to practice letting ourselves feel that emotion.
In fact, Aliza says that one of the biggest misconceptions she sees in her work is people thinking that fear is something they need to get rid of! Relatable, right? And when she asks them why they need to get rid of it, they usually answer with "because it's uncomfortable!"...and that's the problem! Our instinct is often to avoid discomfort. But when we focus on avoiding fear and discomfort, we can't overcome it.
Learning how to distinguish the discomfort of anxiety from actual danger is the start to befriending fear. Because feeling anxiety isn't dangerous, it's just our mind trying to protect us! It's up to us to show our mind that it doesn't need to sound danger alarms so often, and we do that by taking healthy action!
Undoing The Unhelpful Messages We Carry From Childhood
Aliza mentioned that most of us received some form of unhealthy messaging from our childhood. Whether it's about attachment, self-image, or fear, we often need to work to change these unhelpful messages. And therapy is a great place to begin to unpack them! Aliza says that when we don't take the time to undo these messages, we carry them with us into adulthood. And often, they can lead to lots of fear and anxiety.
The Small Steps You Can Take To Overcome Fear
I'm sure at this point you're wondering... "what are some steps I can take to work through my fears?" if you are, Aliza had some great wisdom to share! When I asked for her advice on this topic, she said that taking small, consistent steps is the key to overcoming your biggest fears. This might look like going for a walk without your phone, or even striking up a conversation with a stranger. It's all about facing fear in small, consistent, and manageable doses. And as you face the fear, you allow the uncomfortable thoughts and symptoms to come along with you. With time, so much of the fear will start to lose the power it holds over you!
Don't forget to listen to the full episode packed with goodness! And until next time, friends, keep taking healthy action!
If you're looking for even more insights and practical tips on how to overcome your fears, check out episode 62 of the podcast - Struggling With The Fear of Fear? Here's What to Do About It.
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