Life Without Fear
How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? We all feel fear from time to time. If we’re out hiking and we see a bear it’s likely we’ll have a sense of danger and feel fear. We have an identifiable source of our uncomfortable feeling: the bear. If you were incapable of feeling fear, you might approach her while she’s hunting for food with both her cubs. It’s likely you wouldn’t have a very good outcome in this situation!
Like all emotions, fear has a purpose. It’s job is to protect us from dangerous situations.
People who struggle with trauma-related conditions frequently feel as though they’re living in a constant state of fear. It’s like they are seeing the bear over and over and it feels very real even though the bear is no longer there. This can be where anxiety begins. Fear is something we feel when there is an imminent, identifiable danger. Anxiety is a feeling of tension occurring when we think about danger. Anxiety is about your thoughts of danger, fear is about a visible source of danger. For trauma survivors, a life without fear may seem like a blessing! Waking up one morning and not feeling any fear may seem like a miracle for some who live with fear on a daily basis. However, some amount of fear can help protect us.
Types of Fears Survivors May Have
- Fear of sleeping due to nightmares
- Fear of being judged by service providers
- Fear of more abuse by a perpetrator
- Fear of losing close relationships
- Fear of not being believed
- Fear of trusting others
- Fear that your reactions will be unpredictable
- Fear that life will end early or suddenly
- Fear that the traumatic event will happen again
The goal when working with fear is not to become fearless but to fear less. Recovery from trauma is possible if you work actively to make changes. The following are some ways to begin managing your trauma-related fears.
- Identify triggers
- Gain awareness of the connection between the trauma and its consequences
- Use healthy coping skills
- Build social support
- Practice spirituality
- Access community resources (legal, mental health, advocacy, medical, etc.)
- Maintain a daily routine
- Recognize positive moments to build optimism
- Pay attention to your self-talk and use positive language
Positive personal growth is possible following trauma. Some individuals are able to gain a new sense of meaning or purpose in life after a traumatic event. Others share lessons they learned from their difficult experiences and provide valuable education about recovery. Keep in mind that fear is there to protect you. Learning how to manage fear takes time. Survivors are generally resilient and capable of developing skills that can help manage symptoms and possibly prevent long term problems.
~Inspired by the daily prompt Fearless Fantasies ~