Having fears is a natural part of life. However, when you allow a fear to alter the way that you live your life or the relationships you have with others, the fear becomes an unhealthy burden.
Below are two examples of common fears and scenarios of healthy and unhealthy reactions.
Fear #1: The Straying Partner
You fear that your partner is cheating on you. Even though you have no proof, you’re convinced because you’ve gained a considerable amount of weight.
Facing your fear:
In this example, you can overcome your fear by understanding that the fear is really a byproduct of your personal insecurities, rather than your partner’s disloyalty.
1. Healthy reaction: Rather than accusing your partner of straying, ask them whether they’re unhappy with your weight gain. Communicate that you’re feeling self-conscious about your looks. Enroll in a weight loss program to boost your self-esteem.
• This is a healthy reaction because you’re addressing the true issue, which is your newfound insecurity. Nothing in your partner’s behavior has changed; the only change in your relationship might be your self-esteem.
2. Unhealthy reaction: You start riffling through your partner’s belongings and spying on their cell phone call logs, emails, and Facebook interactions. You discreetly drive by their workplace at lunchtime. Even after finding nothing, you continue to invade their space because you’re sure they’ll eventually slip up.
• Clearly, this reaction is unhealthy because you’re allowing your insecurities to take over your life. You feel badly about your body image, and you’re subconsciously sabotaging your relationship by wrongfully accusing your partner.
• If you wrongfully accuse your partner of straying, they’ll likely become upset that you’re giving your insecurities the power to tarnish their character. This wrongful accusation may lead to distance in your relationship and potentially irreparable damage.
Fear #2: The Concerned Parent
You fear losing your children. You love your children so much and shudder at the thought of your life without them. Thoughts of tragedy cross your mind from time to time.
Facing your fear:
In this example, you can face your fears head on by realizing that it’s impossible to shield your children from the world. Rather than stopping them from enjoying life, you can do everything within your power to ensure safe enjoyment.
1. Healthy reaction. Ensure that your children know standard safety precautions, such as crossing the street with an adult and never talking to strangers. Have an extensive chat with other parents before allowing your children to spend the night at a friend’s home.
• Every parent is concerned with his or her children’s safety. However, it’s important to understand that you can’t shield your children from the world. So, rather than tucking them away for yourself, allow them to experience life and do your best to ensure their safety.
2. Unhealthy reaction: You choose to protect your children by refusing to trust anyone with their safety. You ensure that the only friends your children keep are cousins, family friends, and neighbors that you know closely. You limit your children’s experiences of the outside world because you fear that something bad will happen to them.
• Keeping your children from making friends can cause social and emotional damage. Limiting their experiences also limits their ability to experience the successes that can grow their self-esteem.
Everyday fears have the ability to affect how you live your life. By conquering your fears rationally and maturely, you increase your quality of life. Face your fears in productive ways that move you closer to the happiness you deserve.