What are you really scared of?
Fear of fear: 3 tips
No question about it: anxiety and panic attacks are extremely unpleasant experiences. This is precisely why there is often a fear of fear, the so-called fear of expectation. It torments those affected, even if they do not feel any acute panic at all. We have 3 tips against fear for you to break the vicious circle of constant tension.
What is the fear of fear?
In a panic attack, one experiences fear of death without being really threatened. Sweating, dizziness, tremors, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath - the symptoms are clear physical alarm signals. They are accompanied by intense feelings of fear, panic and despair. Often times thoughts arise about losing control for good, dying or going crazy. Because these conditions are so extremely uncomfortable and those affected often attack suddenly, they fear them in advance. This fear is known as fear of fear or fear of anticipation.
How do I recognize this fear of expectation?
Anticipatory anxiety is constant uncertainty and anxiety. This relates on the one hand to the agonizing feeling of panic that one constantly fears, and on the other hand to thoughts of certain situations. Has one z. If, for example, you experience a panic attack in the office, you already feel fear the evening before going to work the next morning. If you actually let yourself be guided by this form of fear, what is known as avoidance behavior occurs. Affected people then avoid situations and activities that they associate with fear. In this example, you would call in sick for the time being. Public transport, driving your own car, public spaces and events, or sleeping alone are also often avoided.
Fears, panic disorder and phobias
The excruciating fear often develops when panic attacks appear out of the blue. If these panic attacks occur several times in different situations within a month and the fear of expectation is also present, one speaks of a panic disorder.
This fear can also occur in connection with so-called phobias, i. H. Fear of certain situations or objects. One of the most common phobias is claustrophobia, the fear of confined spaces. Agoraphobia, often called claustrophobia, is just as widespread. H. the fear of crowds or wide open spaces.
But whether in connection with specific or indefinite situations: The fear of fear is extremely unpleasant and often the reason why the quality of life is severely restricted. So what can you do about it?
1Tip: Perceiving the fear of expectation
That sounds a bit banal or even superfluous: Of course, those affected perceive this form of fear - even to an extreme extent. That is supposedly the problem. However, this first tip is not about indulging your anticipatory anxiety as usual, but rather observing and reflecting on it as neutrally as possible. Like a scientist tracking down an interesting phenomenon or a child looking at an object for the first time in their life.
So if you notice that this fear is approaching or even already present, you can notice in a first step: There is the fear of the fear. The next thing you notice is how it feels, what thoughts are related to it, and how your body reacts to them. Instead of falling for it, you watch it. It's a bit like a movie that you watch but that you don't actually appear in.
Tip 2: Be aware of limitations and values
Avoidance behavior - we have already mentioned it - is something that can have a major impact on the quality of life. You constantly have to make sure that you are not at home alone, you can no longer attend concerts, you no longer dare to travel or make important phone calls. It is important to be clear about what is important to you in life and what things you no longer do because of the fear of fear. Think not only about the compromises you have made in the past, but also what your life should look like in the future: What activities would you do if this anticipatory fear no longer controls your behavior? Who would you see, what places would you go and what goals would you pursue if you were free from the fear of fear? It's best to write down these answers.
The most effective remedy for fear is and remains courage. In psychotherapy, one speaks of “exposure” when it comes to facing one's own fears. The key point is: Do exactly what is on the list you made under tip 2. Regardless of whether you are afraid of the fear or not. That is of course a lot easier said than done. It's best to take small steps. Instead of planning your next trip, you could first take public transport to a park in another part of the city, or you could stay home alone for an hour instead of the whole night.
If you feel anxious about anticipation, you can use tip 1 and observe it as neutrally as possible. Keep reminding yourself that practice makes perfect. Even if it doesn't work out to completely overcome the fear of fear right away, you will notice a change over time and despite possible setbacks.
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