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Mariah's avatar

What are your fears and what are you doing to overcome them?

Asked by Mariah (25846points) April 12th, 2011

Life can be intimidating at times, and having fears is normal. But, when fear starts to get in the way of your goals, your happiness, or even your basic functionality, it becomes a major problem. What problematic fears do you have and what are you going to do to overcome them?

This is an ongoing thread to help jellies recognize the fears we want to overcome, outline specific ways in which we’re going to face those fears, report on progress or setbacks, and get encouragement from the collective. We’ve already recruited some jellies on this thread, but anyone is welcome to jump in at any time!

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56 Answers

Drewseph's avatar

I am fearful of fears and I’m fearing them so that I don’t have to encounter my fears…

KateTheGreat's avatar

I have a severe fear of hypodermic needles. So I’m going to go give blood on Friday.

Mariah's avatar

@KatetheGreat That is AWESOME!! Not only is that such a gutsy way to face your fear, but you’re doing a great act of kindness. As someone who has received blood (a lot of it), I really really appreciate that.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I have severe acrophobia, I go bungee jumping and rapelling. I want to skydive, but haven’t worked up the nerve yet.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Yeah I’ve been looking at a few clubs, but there’s only a few I’m interested in. I’ll have to check the times. I’ve also been looking at

Mariah's avatar

Here are the big fears I need to work on:

1. Fear of failure
My fear of failure is probably the biggest thing holding me back from succeeding, ironically enough. My fear of failure causes me to be hesitant to even try some things, which I know is stupid because “you miss all the shots you don’t take” as the saying goes.
2. Health paranoia
My experiences with chronic health problems have left me with some pretty bad paranoia about all things health related. Every time I don’t feel well, I fear that I’m going to find out I have a new chronic problem that’s going to plague me for my whole life.
3. Driving
I’m terrified to drive. I tried to take the test to get my license for the first time at age 18, was a nervous wreck and it showed in my driving, failed horribly, and got screamed at by a grumpy DMV lady. I haven’t driven since then! I need need NEED to get over this! I don’t want to live in a big city, which means I can’t just be one of those people who relies on public transportation. This is a basic life skill and I don’t want it holding me back.
4. Spiders
Okay, so my phobia of spiders isn’t ruining my life or anything. But, I kind of wanted to include this one because it’s slightly less difficult to overcome than the others, and maybe if I start with it, it will show me that I can get over the others, too. Baby steps.

I’m scared of a lot of other stuff too, haha, but these are probably the most important ones and are a good starting point.

Here’s what I’m going to do about it!:

1. At some point when I get back to college, I’m going to take a class that I don’t feel utterly confident about, on a subject that isn’t a strong point. And I’m going to try my darndest. If I do well, I will see that it I am capable of more than I give myself credit for. If I don’t do well, I’ll see that not doing well in a course isn’t the end of the world. Feel free to chime in with suggestions on how I can start facing this one before I go back to college, too!
2. This one I think is mostly going to take some time – I need it demonstrated to me that my health really is going to start getting better at the end of my surgeries before I can start trusting my body again. But also, once I get back to college, at some point I’m going to get really drunk, and nothing terrible is going to happen, imagine that! Again, suggestions on how to work on this one before my return to college are welcome.
3. I think I just need to get back behind the wheel again, and practice. I need to stop avoiding it because that’s not doing me any good. The ultimate goal is to get up the confidence to try my test again, and hopefully pass this time. >_>
4. At first I was thinking I should face this one down by letting a spider walk on me, but I don’t know if that’s really necessary. Really, I’d just like to get the courage to be able to scoop one up in a cup and take it outside if I see it in my room. What do you think, should I take the plunge and pick one up? Even just the thought is making me feel squicky.

Mariah's avatar

@WestRiverrat Wow, how do you work up the nerve to bungee jump? I imagine it’s a matter of just taking the plunge: “Just do it” to take a leaf from Nike. Still, yikes. Good on you.

@Michael_Huntington Do you ever have to do any group projects at your school? Maybe you could join a study group: that way you could do your work and get to know people all at once. That website seems really cool, too!

KateTheGreat's avatar

@Mariah Trust me, this is going to be huge for me. I’m soooooooo scared! I’m really glad that my blood will be going to someone who needs it though.

creative1's avatar

I have 2 fears and I have given totally up trying to overcome them They are needles and blood… @KatetheGreat I tried what you are doing giving blood several times and passed out everytime, after passing out 2 times in a row giving 1 pint of blood the last time I finally just said it isn’t worth going through the smelling salts again. I wish you alot of luck, the people at the blood bank are wonderful with us with phobias at least they were for me and they took time and let me do what I needed to got it done when I was ready. They even took the blood away without me being able to see but that didn’t matter anyways because I was passed out by then lol.

Just an fyi I am so bad with blood I almost fainted once when I took my sister to give and saw someone else go down, I had to wait outside for her before I went down with him.

josie's avatar

I fear having a waist that is not at least 10 inches smaller than my chest.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I wish I could find a way to confront mine. I wish it was a phobia that could , with some effort be easily confronted and overcome. (i dont mean its easy in the sense of confronting it is easy but easy in the sense of one knows what they have to do to confront it.) My life has always seemed to be a series of unfortunate events. Anytime something starts to go somewhat good, many bad things happen and fuck it up often leaving me worse off than I was before the good thing happened.

I got in a car accident 2 years ago and severely fucked up my back. Since then ive had to fight with insurance companies and doctors to get the care I really need. I still am not feeling any better, actually quite worse. I used to only get muscle spasms in my back and extreme pain in my knees due to a pinched nerve. It has recently starting causing my arms too to have spasms and pain in my elbows. I fear will never get better and this will be something to debilitate me the rest of my life. It really sucks being 22 and telling your friends you cant go do fun activities like snowboarding because of your back.

The pain is just one facet of my fear. It is currently the driving force behind it. My overall fear is that things never truly will get better. Im told to be optimistic, look to the future with hope, it will all work out in the end, but it never does. Something fucked up always happens and I always get screwed over in someway or another.

This has led me to becoming extremely pessimistic about the future as of late, and I see the problem with this way of thinking, but I just cant help it. Too much shit has happened and continues to happen. I see the patterns and its hard to really look past that for some hope of a future that never seems to come.

augustlan's avatar

I have a massive fear of heights. It doesn’t really interfere with my life, but it does limit my fun. I can no longer dive off the high dive or ride roller coasters, two things I used to love. I’d actually decided to just live with that, but you guys are inspiring me! I think maybe practicing going up and down a ladder is the place to start for me.

PS: If anyone needs to talk, especially in the wee hours of the morning. I’m here. :)

KateTheGreat's avatar

@augustlan I had the hugest fear of heights for a long time. I decided to get rid of that fear by sky diving!

augustlan's avatar

@KatetheGreat Oh holy shit. Baby steps, woman!

KateTheGreat's avatar

@augustlan I’m a bit dramatic ;)

Sunny2's avatar

I’m claustrophobic. I usually just avoid tight physical situations. But you can’t avoid a cat-scan if you really need one. So I shut my eyes. Sometimes I peeked and it was okay.

Mariah's avatar

@uberbatman ;_; Not that having my sympathy helps much, but I’m so sorry. That is a terribly painful situation to be in. There is treatment out there that could help you – you just can’t access it due to insurance roadblocks? That’s where I find hope in that situation. The help is out there, maybe just out of reach for now. I can understand your pessimism though. It’s easy to find patterns in the past and extrapolate them out to the future.

I found hope in what I thought was going to be a life-long health situation by making a big change and getting surgery (I’m lucky enough to be under my parents’ insurance). I hope you’re able to access something like this soon, but in the meantime I guess the only thing to do is work on what you can control, and that is the way you look at the situation. I have trouble relaxing about my problems until I see them being solved. Now I realize that I can’t live like that because I will never reach a point in life where everything is solved… somehow, we need to learn to manage our worries in the meantime. I don’t have the answer to that yet, but let’s look for it.

@augustlan I had decided I was okay with just living with my arachnophobia, too, but I want to get over that one just to show myself I can! Good luck with your ladder walking! ;)

@KatetheGreat Dang, you don’t mess around! I love it!

@Sunny2 I’m sick of just avoiding the things I’m scared of – that’s why I’m doing this! Admittedly, you can get through life avoiding tight spaces better than you can avoiding driving, but still, you cite a good example – the dreaded CAT scan. Glad you handled the peeking well – baby steps! :D

KateTheGreat's avatar

@Mariah I may not mess around, but it’s one of the hardest things to do! I am always afraid!

Mariah's avatar

Guys, I know I’m in a bad state when I catch myself being afraid that I will fail at overcoming my fear of failure. Goddamn! XD

augustlan's avatar

It’s ok, @Mariah… we’ve got your back. :p

mattbrowne's avatar

Car accidents. I’m a commuter. Antidote: defensive driving

Michael_Huntington's avatar

@Mariah I don’t have any group projects in this semester. I actually hate them because I usually wind up as the person who does everything or I have to carry someone else’s burden. Study groups is a good idea, but I don’t know if we have any.
We have “problem sessions” for math classes, which is basically a mini class (usually lasts up to an hour) taught by a former student or professor. The problem is that I’m not taking any math classes this semester.
@uberbatman I’m sorry to hear that. I hope it all works out for you, man.

KateTheGreat's avatar

Giving blood tomorrow to overcome my fear of hypodermic needles! Wish me luck!

augustlan's avatar

Good luck, Kate! You can do this!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I have a terrible fear of spiders, but I don’t see myself overcoming that one. They’re just plain creepy. =0)

El_Cadejo's avatar

Thanks guys :)

@WillWorkForChocolate ohhh come on, theyre not all creepy, this one is actually kinda cute :P

KateTheGreat's avatar

@uberbatman HOLY FUCKING SHIT I shouldn’t have clicked that. Scared the crap out of me.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

@uberbatman I don’t know why I’m loling so hard at that.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@KatetheGreat Scared? Hes got a freakin smiley face :P

@Michael_Huntington see above

KateTheGreat's avatar

@uberbatman He’s smiling, but it’s because he’s about to bite the shit out of someone and possibly kill them!

El_Cadejo's avatar

@KatetheGreat that spider is the size of a pencil eraser. I dont think its killing anything much larger than an ant anytime soon.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@uberbatman He can still crawl in various orifices!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@uberbatman I can not believe I actually clicked on your link. I knew it was going to be something bad, but I couldn’t stop my finger from clicking. Damn you man! Damn and damn and damn you! The “cuteness” of the face only makes it creepier!! ACK! Nightmares!

KateTheGreat's avatar

Why does everyone think that damned spider is cute!?!?!?!

WestRiverrat's avatar

@KatetheGreat I don’t know. I think it is cute, but I thought the Grinch was cuddly when I first saw that show.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@KatetheGreat This one really is cute. I swear.

nisse's avatar

I want to work on my fear about what other people think of me.. I really have a problem with the thought of someone disliking me personally which i would like to work to eradicate.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how i can approach this? I would love ideas for small steps that i can take to improve, but i dont want to go all in and run naked through the streets right away.

Mariah's avatar

@nisse Hmm, I thought and thought and wasn’t coming up with much to suggest to you – probably because it’s not a fear I’ve overcome myself! So, I googled it (google has the answer to everything, right?) Dunno if anything on this webpage might be helpful. Most of these things are far easier said than done. I will keep thinking about what sorts of “baby steps” you might be able to take to face this fear!

@KatetheGreat You haven’t gone yet, have you? I’m so eager to hear how you do!!

KateTheGreat's avatar

@Mariah I went about an hour ago. I stared at that blood seeping out of my arm and I died a little inside. I actually did pretty good. I just got a little clammy.

Mariah's avatar

@KatetheGreat But you did it, holy crap! You get ten pats on the back from me.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@Mariah Thanks! I might do it again sometime.

augustlan's avatar

Woot! Way to go, Kate!

Mariah's avatar

Hey folks! In an effort to keep this thread ongoing, and so that we don’t forget our goals, I’m gonna try and pop back here about once a week. I’ll be asking about what gains you’ve made in the week, so try and have something to report back! ;) I’ll also try and link to an interesting related article, or post some tidbit on the subject of fear/courage each week. It hasn’t quite been a week yet since I posted this, but my next few days are going to be busy.

Personally, I can’t say I’ve made many gains this week. I’ve got a clear plastic cup stashed in my room and I swear, I’ve almost wanted to see a spider so I could try and remove it calmly in the cup. But no spiders! I haven’t driven, either. That’s the one goal really I could have worked on this week, but I didn’t. Shame. :( The only thing I can say I’ve done, is I went out with a couple of friends who live slightly less innocent lives than I do, and talked to them about how, after my surgeries are over, I want to take a risk or two and observe as I don’t spontaneously combust. Namely, getting a teeny bit drunk, haha. These are very trusted friends and they said that if I’m up for it by the summer, they would absolutely help me with that mission. What a life I lead, when getting drunk is a goal
I am becoming more aware of my thought processes. For instance, I was fighting with myself all day, because I’m having a bad day today with my health paranoia. For some reason, the joints in my hands and wrists are achy today, so of course I’m sitting here thinking I’m developing rheumatoid arthritis. :| I just keep telling myself it’s stupid. I don’t know what else to do when I get worrying like this – any ideas?
The one thing I have to say for myself is that, although my next surgery is coming up on Wednesday, I haven’t been too scared. But I don’t think that’s bravery so much as it is me trusting in my surgeon – he’s so great.

On a related note, my “tidbit” for this week comes from a health forum I frequent. I hadn’t thought of it this way before, but somebody mentioned that most medical procedures, taken out of context, would be considered assault. Getting prodded with needles, cut open, instruments in various orifices, being given substances that can alter your state of consciousness. While we know on a conscious level that all of this is ultimately for our own benefit, it’s entirely conceivable that on some level, the mind doesn’t understand that you are in a safe place. If you give any credance to evolutionary psychology, it makes sense: evolution happens slowly, so right now our adaptations are best suited for the lifestyle that our ancestors lived about 10,000 years ago, long before anything like a hospital existed. Our brains therefore aren’t really designed to completely understand and cope with medical procedures. In trying to get over these fears, we’re truly trying to go against our instincts, ignore the compulsive flight or fight response, which is why it’s so damned hard!

So, what have you accomplished this week? Have you been thinking more actively about your fears, perhaps? Try something you would normally avoid? Or have you stagnated like me? Backslid, even? Do tell!

KateTheGreat's avatar

I watched a horror movie to help get over my anxiety! Didn’t go good at all!

augustlan's avatar

Good work, guys! @Mariah Awareness is so important. We have to catch ourselves being scared so we can nip it in the bud! Good luck with your next surgery. Keep us posted?

@KatetheGreat Sorry it didn’t go well. What did you watch? Maybe you need a slightly less scary one to start with. I love horror movies!

I made no progress whatsoever. Sigh. I’ll try to to better this week.

Mariah's avatar

@KatetheGreat Horror movies usually just serve to make me more paranoid, jumpin’ at every sound, haha XD

@augustlan Of course I’ll keep you posted, and thanks for the well wishes!

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I have some updates:
I didn’t join a group yet because the semester is ending soon, but I talked to someone yesterday who shares the same interests as me. It’s refreshing to talk to someone who isn’t a moron (I mean irl and aside from a few people). I have summer school, so that’ll definitely give me more chances to talk to people and I’m taking a lot of classes next fall semester. Just found out there’s a fighting game group, so I’ll definitely join that in the fall (even though I suck at those kind of games)

XYZZYtja's avatar

@KatetheGreat Remember, horror movies are fake! I recently watch some horror/gore movie… It was actually kinda fun to already think about what’s going to happen next, remember they are fake, and something happening like that would never ever really happen, I was scared for horror movies too… But they’re all just lame cheap “not scarry at all” movies… Try to start with a thriller/horror and then slowly move towards horror, you’ll notice how fun it can be, to think of when you can “jump up” like a crazy idiot, while infact your not because you just thought of the idea that it is possible that you jump up like a crazy idiot in that specific part…That made me laugh instead… And i’m sure after some practice you will do to! (haha, btw some girls I watched the movie with were like “how can he laugh at this?!”)

MissAnthrope's avatar

I’ve been lurking here since the start (hope y’all don’t mind).

I just realized that I do have a gigantic fear that is getting in the way of my enjoying life.

I am terrified of women, particularly ones I find attractive.

Obviously, being a lesbian, this poses a certain problem when it comes to dating. I don’t know what it is, though, I am scared shitless of women. I’m scared to approach them, scared to talk to them (and then, I have no idea what to say), and totally scared that they will reject me and/or crush my poor tender heart in their wicked dragon-lady talons.


Mariah's avatar

@MissAnthrope Always glad to have a lurker turn into a non-lurker. Glad you’ve recognized your fear – that’s the first major step!

I have to apologize to this thread because I’ve not been doing what I said I’d do. My life got pretty convoluted for a while, and… ugh. I’ve got my hands too full to work on major self-improvement at the moment. I still want to support this thread, though, and come back to working on these things once my life settles down a bit! So please, don’t hesitate to post here if you’ve made some progress, if you’ve identified a new fear, if you’ve come up with a new way to tackle your fears, if you have some ideas for another person, or if you just have some random thoughts on the subject of fear!

sweetbee's avatar

Hi my name is Sweetbee and i’m afraid of failing and succeeding. I am also afraid of being alone.

Mariah's avatar

Hello my dear fear-fighting jellies. Some thread owner I’ve been, huh? I’ve had too many urgent issues going on these days to be able to focus too heavily on self-improvement. I’m sorry I abandoned this thread, though. Please do let me know if there’s still interest so I can try and remind myself to bump it now and then!

So, here’s my fear-fighting status:

Fear of failure
Oh my, this one has gotten the best of me lately. My life is moving at a snail’s pace these days, and while I bitch and moan and complain about that fact, and while I say that all I want is to go back to college, I really am housing a lot of anxiety about the return. So much so that, one night, I nearly decided to change my major before even taking the intro course, because I’m convinced it’s going to be too hard for me. What the hell kind of attitude is that? I think I have lost a lot of confidence in my ability to adapt to change, to take on new challenges. And I think that loss of confidence is mostly a result of….
Health paranoia
Okay, part of me worries that I’m using my illness as a scapegoat to explain away all of my faults, but when I consider the effects it has had on me, I think it really can explain so much of my fear. I basically consider myself incapable of handling stress because I know how badly stress has affected my body in the past. Having had surgery, my body should be able to handle stress quite a bit better – the question is, can I handle it, mentally? I have really developed a fear of putting myself in stressful sitations that I’m hoping to get over.
I’ve been pretty nervous about health stuff lately, but I think it’s warranted. I’m on a brink of discovering what kind of quality of life I’m liable to have for the rest of my life…I think anyone would be “paranoid” about that.
Okay, I finally have a teeny, tiny accomplishment to brag about. I drove yesterday. My parents have given up prodding me to drive at this point, so it was my of my own volition. This was the first time I’d driven in almost a year; I hadn’t driven once since my semi-traumatic failed attempt to get my license (was so nervous I screwed up horribly and got screamed at by a grumpy DMV lady), and I wasn’t awful at it or anything. I even ran into an unusual traffic situation (pedestrians everywhere due to an outdoor concert) and didn’t freak out. So I have something to be proud of there, I suppose.

I’d love to hear from any of you on how you’re doing.

augustlan's avatar

Thanks for the update, @Mariah. Well done on the driving thing! I’m impressed. I think all of the other stuff you’re dealing with is entirely normal in your situation, and hope it eases as your health continues to improve.

As for me, I have done jack and shit about my fears, lately. Busy with life stuff, I guess. :(

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