Self-Transformation Series:
Issue No. 5

Conquering Fear

Table of Contents

  1. Importance
  2. Nature of Fear
  3. How to Handle Fear
  4. Preventing Fear in Children

I. Importance

Fear is a primary cause of unhappiness. It prevents a person from dealing with problems effectively. He or she is not able to develop his full potential because of fear to try.

II. Nature of Fear

Fear is our reaction to a threat (such as violence) or an unwanted consequence (such as being found out that one has cheated). It produces unpleasant tension and an impulse to escape. Small amounts of fear make us alert, and are harmless when eventually dissipated. But when fear is chronic, it produces mental, emotional and physical problems.

III. How to Handle Fear

  1. Do deep breathing to help handle yourself. The body can paralyze itself or run away as a spontaneous reaction to the fearful situation. Breathing can stabilize and help us gain self-control so we can more effectively handle the situation.

    Example: You are asked to speak in front of people, breathe deeply to calm your nervousness.

  2. Adopt a strategy to gradually diminish all forms of fear. Almost all forms of fear are acquired, therefore we can unlearn them. Do it step by step, using your rational mind.

  3. Be in touch with your fear. Awareness of your fear reaction can gradually diminish your automatic response to what you are afraid of.

    Example: When you are afraid of the dark, be in touch with your physical reactions and emotional state. Just be aware without trying to fight it. You will notice that in time it will gradually diminish on its own without you doing anything about it.

IV. Preventing Fear in Children

  1. Avoid threats to children about ghosts, or similar things. Making children do things by making them afraid is very harmful and can diminish future capabilities of the children.

    Example: Scaring children with ghosts in order to persuade to eat will not only make them become afraid of the dark but associate eating with something unpleasant. Hence the approach creates two problems.

    Constantly threatening a child with violence (such as physical punishment) will create either inhibition in the child or create aggression, both of which are unwholesome.

  2. Be conscious of your own fears. You tend to transmit your fears to your children. It can be fear of what the neighbors will say, or fear of lizards, etc. The fears of yayas or nurses are also transmitted to the children.

    Example: a mother who has a phobia of lightning hides under the bed whenever there is a thunderstorm. Her three year child similarly developed this response of hiding under the bed whenever it begins to thunder.

  3. Discuss with children their fears and work out a program where they can consciously remove them.

    Example: If a child is afraid of spiders, tell them about the difference between harmless spiders and poisonous ones. For tiny, household spiders no bigger than your smallest fingernail, you may wish to demonstrate to your child that the spider can crawl on your arm harmlessly.

    If the child is afraid of the dark, play a game in a dark room that you know he will enjoy. Do not force the situation. Do it gradually and without the child noticing that he is already getting accustomed to the dark.

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Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
Peace Center
Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines

"If five percent of the people work for peace, there will be peace."