How to Overcome Your Fears

Everyone is scared of something from time to time, whether it is stress for an exam, fear of heights, or anxiety when speaking in front of a large audience. Vanessa Verheyden tells you how to face and defeat your fears.

14-12-2015 -  by Kevin Van der Straeten

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Everyone is scared of something from time to time, whether it is stress for an exam, fear of heights, or anxiety when speaking in front of a large audience. Vanessa Verheyden tells you how to face and defeat your fears.


Hi Vanessa, welcome back to our studio.  


Hi Kevin. 


Today we're going to talk about fear. But what is fear exactly? 


Fear is something that is created in your head. Let's say that you are in a room and two people are in that room. And there is a spider in the room. One person will freak out, yell, will go and climb the walls, and the other person will say: "oh what a nice spider. I'm just gonna take the little spider and put it outside". And the other one would take a hammer and almost knock it down because the person is so scared. So the fact is that fear is something that is happening in your mind. And there are lots of things like: fear of flying, claustrophobia; being fearful in little spaces... Yeah, many things what you can be fearful for. But the question is: how can we work with it so that the fear changes and your life changes as well with it? So that's one fear: the fear of all those kind of things. It's a very practical fear. A very concrete fear. On the other hand you have a fear that is far away from you, like the fear of a war. The fear of the economic system collapsing. These are all fears. Fears that for example your child is going to be addicted to drugs. These are all different kinds of fears, because the first fear is a fear you are confronted with immediately. And there you have a remedy immediately. For example one of the remedies could be that you're working on your breathing. Because the first thing when you get a panic attack is: "oh my god, I'm scared! I don't know what to do!" And you're breathing from the upper part. Instead just close your eyes, take a deep breath in from your abdomen, and then little by little if you're focusing on the breathing, the fear will go away. 


And how does that work? How is that linked? 


Well, it is linked because your breathing is linked to your mind. So when your mind runs around in different ways, your breathing will go very fast. For example, when you are sleeping or resting, then your breathing is very calm. I am sure you already noticed that. And then your mind is not running, because you're really calm, you're resting, you're almost falling asleep. So there the breathing is really very calm. So breathing is connected with your mind. And it's very important, if you want to control your mind, to control your breathing. And when you have this panic attack, the first thing is: breathing. Breathing in and breathing out for a few times, and then the mind will calm down. You're a little bit more calm, but still afraid of the spider. Still afraid of the spider, so you need to go and work a little bit more with it, and for example you could do a visualization where every day you make the fear your friend. And you visualize yourself, let's say, going into an elevator when you have fear to go into an elevator or a little room. And even chatting with the persons in the elevator, making a little joke and then see yourself going up, seeing a beautiful view that you've never seen because you've got a fear of going into an elevator. So always visualize those positive thoughts and then one day you will be ready to face it. And if you have faced this fear you will see that the fear in your head was much bigger than it really was. So little by little you're making it not an enemy, but a friend. And then facing it and then you say: "okay". And if you have other fears that go together with it, little by little you can work on those fears. but that's really working with the concrete fear. 



Yeah, I was just thinking: for the other ones it's more difficult to do it that way. 


For the other one it's more difficult. But let's say for example that you have a daughter and you're scared that she's going to be drug-addicted. You could focus on the fact that she's going to become 16 or 17, she's going to go out, there will be drugs presented to her. So that's what you focus on. But you could focus on the fact that: "no, my child is a good child. I have a good relationship with her. We talk together", and maybe when the moment there or it will be presented, that she will come and talk to you. So you can work on the confidence. You can work on the solutions instead of really focusing on the problems. For example, it's the same with the economic system. You could go and watch the news and every day you watch the news you will have all this negativity coming to you. And does it help you in your daily life? Usually the news that you get doesn't benefit your daily life. So you can watch the news, no problem, but just watch what is important to you and let the rest go. Just let it go and focus on your life and what you can do in a positive way. And if it comes to you that you will need to pay more taxes, yes okay, then it will happen, but then you deal with it and you find a solution to work harder or to do something else. Fear is something that you can deal with. For example, I worked with 17 year old children that were doing their final exams. 


A lot of stress.  


A lot of stress, yes. And you have those two fears. You have the direct fear of exam stress, where you need to deal with... I let them taste some different kinds of things, like meditation for example, yoga, breathing exercises, just to make them feel the benefits of it. And they said it really works because they used it at their oral English exam and they had great grades. So they said it really works. On the other hand, they are fearful for the future. Because they're thinking: we need to find a study direction that will lead us to earning money. So when you are taking a decision out of fear it will be a total different decision than when you're saying: "okay, what are my talents? What are my gifts? What can I create?" And by doing this you will have a total different study decision that you're gonna make in the future. And so it's important to not make decisions out of fear but out of this confident place where you feel that what you're gonna do, you're gonna do it with love. And in the end, the money will come. Because what's your passion, you'll do better? Exactly, and you feel really inspired to try different things and new things. Like Einstein: he was so passionate about what he was doing, that he found something that the others hadn't found. And so I think that lots of things like that happen. You can create so many beautiful things. And you need to keep on dreaming, and try to perceive the dream. And you do everything you can to get the dream, but if it doesn't work in the end, then don't worry. You just let go and you find another pathway. Because there's always another way, where you come to your destination. But the path is far more important than the destination in itself. 


Very inspiring how you changed fear into an opportunity, a choice. Vanessa thank you very much for coming over.  


Thank you for having me. 


And you at home: thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week!