Do you ever wonder why some people seem to be less fearful than others? From the outside some people seem to have the balance about right, others seem to take far too many risks and some people seem to want to eliminate all risk from their lives.
And of course the natural balance for each person is different. Some people may aspire to have the nerve to do extreme airborne sports, others may be content for a life lived fixed more firmly to the ground.
But what happens when we cannot overcome our fear about something we really would love to do?
It may pay us to consider things in a different way.
Thinking about fear differently
One way of thinking about how to become less fearful might be to consider how we can become better at assessing which of the dangers we are worrying about are real and which are either wholly within our imagination or are over-exaggerated?
Allowing the imagined risks to leave the room gives us much more space in our minds to manage any real, imminent risks that need dealing with.
And interestingly, once the imagined ones are removed from the equation, things can seem a whole lot simpler.
Reducing fear is often a matter of shifting our focus. From what’s wrong to what’s right; from what we can’t do, to what we can; from the unchangeable past to different future possibilities; from an internal focus on our feelings to an external focus on doing something; from being stuck with a zoomed in focus to zooming out so we can see the bigger picture.
The good news is, hypnotherapy can be great at helping you shift your focus. Being in hypnosis you are naturally able to guide your attention towards something different and hence away from your normal focuses of attention which are no longer serving you well.
There is one more point I would like to make on the subject of focus. If whilst you were reading the previous paragraph you were thinking something like “Hypnotherapy won’t work for me, I’ve tried many things and none of them have worked”, then there’s a further focus shift you may like to address. And that is building your expectation that things can change for the better, that the future is not always more of the past. And luckily hypnosis can help here to, to help you to build positive expectations.
Becoming more Confident
Once our focus starts to shift and we become better at weighing things up in our mind, we naturally start to focus on our capabilities rather than our limitations. It becomes clearer which things about a situation are within our gift to change and which aren't. We can then concentrate on the things we can influence and become better at accepting those things we can’t.
Learning to Manage Risks
I’d like to finish with a story about conkers. I am old enough to remember when conker fights were a staple part of playground fun in the autumn. There’s still a World Conker Championship but playing at the grassroots level seems to have all but disappeared.
This may be due in part to some unfortunate press reports almost 20 years ago. The press started saying conker fights were banned due to the risks. In fact the view became so commonplace that the very serious organisation the Health and Safety Executive even included “conker fight bans” in their list of health and safety myths.
Conker fights of course aren’t risk free. If we don’t learn the rules of the game and hold our conker string firmly at arm’s length when it’s the other person’s go to take a swing at our conker, then we might end up with a painful bonk on the head. But that alone doesn’t mean the game is so dangerous it needs to be banned.
Being able to weigh up risk is a key everyday skill and it’s one that needs to be learnt if we don’t want fear to overly dominate our lives.
Our minds subconsciously weigh up the pros and cons of situations all the time, not to do so might lead us into impulsively doing some pretty stupid things. But the other extreme of always avoiding any risk also doesn’t serve us well in the long run.
The press reports probably started when conker fights were banned in one or two schools and the myth spread from there. It seems plausible a teacher was feeling uncomfortable with the idea that children might get hurt on their watch. And then instead of thinking about the risks rationally they chose the too tempting path of just an outright ban.
A ban was perhaps a seemingly risk-free choice, until you consider the need for us all to learn to be comfortable sitting with some risk. And allowing children to play conkers is an opportunity for that learning to begin.
And of course it’s never too late to start learning, even for adults.