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There are typically three types of fear that you are likely to experience in your life.

  1. Rational Fear.
  2. Irrational Fear.
  3. Primal Fear.

Rational fear is defined as “a reaction to a potentially imminent dangerous event, object or person.”  For example, someone is pointing a gun at you, a large dog is running toward you barking and snarling, a tornado is approaching your neighborhood, etc.

Irrational fear is defined as “an unreasonable reaction or an overreaction to an event, object or person.”  For example, being afraid of animals, change, flying, germs, heights, political views, spiders, etc.

Primal fear is defined as “an evolutionary reaction that is programmed in your brain that causes an immediate ‘flight-or-fight’ response to an imminent event, object or person.”  For example, being afraid of a charging animal causing death, dying, being injured, etc.

Irrational fears are typically generated by emotional triggers.

The emotional triggers you experience are a complex mixture of feelings, subconsciousness and physical sensations you receive from your 5 senses of the sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

If your irrational fear is extreme, it may cause a “phobia.”

A phobia is defined as “an uncontrollable,extreme, irrational, reaction to something that may cause anxiety or panic.”

For example, Claustrophobia is the fear of confined spaces; Arachnophobiais the fear of spiders; Acrophobia is the fear of heights, etc.

I have an irrational fear of heights, Acrophobia.  I have no idea what is the root cause of my irrational fear of heights.  I have not fallen off of anything in this lifetime that should have cause this irrational fear.

For additional insights on handling fear in your life, I have created a free E-book available for immediate download, Click on the image below.

Free E-book

Podcast:  What Are You Afraid Of?

How do you overcome any irrational fears in your own life?

Use the acronym REACT.

  1. Recognize the emotions and feelings causing your irrational fears.  Your emotions are your body’s reactions to the environmental stimuli from your 5 senses of the sight, sound, touch, smell and taste in the present moment.  Your feelings are your current conscious state in the present moment.  For example, since I have an irrational fear of heights. When I am in a tall building, parking garage, on a balcony, etc. my whole body starts to shake, my balance is affected, and my body becomes unstable (my emotions) and I feel a conscious state of anxiety that I may fall and hit the ground causing my death (my feelings).
  2. Adjust your focus to present moment.  Focus you thoughts and breathing on the present moment.  Right here, right now.  Focusing your thoughts puts you in an empowered, confident state.  Use rhythmic breathing to calm and quiet yourself.  One type of rhythmic breathing is breathing in, holding, breathing out, pausing and repeating for the same amount of time (e.g., 4-6 seconds).  As you breathe, let your thoughts come and go.  If you need a visual, picture yourself as a rock in the middle of a stream and the thoughts created by your irrational fear the water flowing past the rock.  For example, when my irrational fear of heights is triggered, I immediately grab onto something solid (e.g., a balcony rail, etc.) and focus on that physical connection and then breathe rhythmically to calm myself.
  3. Control your actions. Take control of the situation from an empowered state with courage. When you are empowered, you and only you, actively decide how you will proceed. When you are empowered, you make important decisions and take pro-active actions with courage.  The emotional state of “courage” is the crossover point between a negative fear-based emotional state and a positive emotional state. Control your actions with courage.

To overcome my irrational fear of heights, I have walked along the top of an 18″ wide wall twenty or more feet off the ground carrying an 8’x10′ sheet of plywood on a windy day working construction, gone sky diving multiple times, I have achieved a private pilot’s license for which I had to handle several emergency procedures in an airplane as pilot in command at altitude.

I even have inched my way to the edge of a balcony in high-rise apartment building in the city of Chicago.

Learning how to REACT to overcome your irrational fears will allow you to create a positive impact in your own life.

Out There on the Edge of Everything® …

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

Copyright © 2023, by Stephen Lesavich, PhD.  All rights reserved.

Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.