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This week’s blog post comes from guest Dr. Jill Gross, a psychologist in Seattle, Washington. She writes a great post about Fear and Anxiety and how to kick it to the curb!
She starts us off with a quote:
“Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined. Comfort kills!”
— T. Harv Eker
What a great quote! We don’t like to think of anxiety/discomfort as helping us, motivating us, making us change but it does. It’s a natural part of life. Sometimes it takes over though and when that happens, we all start searching for what to do.
I just made a trip to Chicago, Illinois and what I found by speaking with people there is that their anxieties are slightly different than the ones I typically hear in my psychotherapy and hypnosis practice in Broward County and the Fort Lauderdale area. Fascinating! Our environments, where we live, where we work definitely affect what type of anxiety and fears we face.
Here’s Dr. Gross’ Advice
From ‘Fearful’ To ‘Fierce’ In Five Steps
People often seek therapy to help mitigate fear or discomfort. No wonder. Being on the back end of the life spiral is not much fun. However, did you know that pain and discomfort are precursors to growth? Let’s explore this together.
Each of us was born with an instinctive drive to seek pleasure and avoid pain–both real or imagined. As cave dwellers, the latter kept us from getting eaten by predators whilst out foraging for bison and berries. So let’s be grateful for that!
Times eventually changed and so did our brains. However, the part of the brain that is responsible for logic and reasoning (frontal cortex) is located nowhere near the part where primal fear occurs, (amygdala). Thus, many of us today struggle to accurately interpret fear.
Sometimes fear is meant to notify us of imminent danger. However, it is more common to experience fear in the absence of a true threat. Fear in the absence of danger is called “anxiety.” Anxiety would have us believe there is a tiger in the grass when, really, there is no tiger.
Because fear can be quite convincing, many of us choose to mitigate it with avoidance, even when the feared stimulus is (somewhat) neutral, like dogs, conflict, bridges, public speaking, or peanut butter getting stuck to the roof of your mouth (yes, that really is a phobia).
The imagined equation looks like this: fear + avoidance = relief.
However, what most of us don’t know is that avoidance actually increases the likelihood that we will experience more fear the next time we encounter the feared stimulus. And what coping strategy are we most likely to use to handle this fear? You guessed it: avoidance!