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Overcoming Fear Trauma impacts how your brain manages danger. Your brain becomes sensitized to the need to protect and often works overtime and keeps you thinking that you are constantly in danger and must be aware at all times. That false protection lays a foundation for living in fear. When you were living with the threat of sex abuse happening, there was reason to feel afraid. But now is the time to really explore the presence of fear in your life and get that fear mechanism back in alignment with its true purpose. • Fear is designed to be a signal from your brain to give you the opportunity to discern if there really is danger. It is an important aspect of how you keep yourself safe. • Fear can be magnified when you have no sense of power. As you work to better understand fear and keep yourself safe, you may find Gavin DeBecker’s book, The Gift of Fear helpful. DeBecker makes some very important points about fear: • Real fear is a signal intended to be brief - It is a momentary experience, not a way of life. • We mistake fear as an emotion. Fear is not an emotion like sadness or happiness. It’s not a state of being like anxiety. True fear is a survival signal that only sounds in the presence of possible danger. • The problem with feeling fear all the time is that there is no signal reserved for the times when it is really needed. • The fear signal says something might happen and it is a non-voluntary reaction. What we usually define as fear is actually worry. This is important for you to know because worry is voluntary. Since worry is a choice, you have an option. If you tend to worry, that worry is meeting some need, or doing something for you. Worry is the fear we manufacture—it is not authentic. • We worry because it provides some secondary reward: - worry is a way to avoid change; when we worry we don’t do anything about the matter - worry is a way to avoid admitting we are powerless over something since worry feels like we are doing something - worry is a protection against disappointment - worry is a way to have connection with others, i.e., I’m worrying about you so I care DeBecker provides two rules of thumb about fear: 1. What you fear is rarely what you think you fear, it is what you link to fear. For example, you may think you are afraid of water and swimming, but it is not water that makes you tremble in terror, it is the fear that you may drown. Or have you Go Beyond Recovery to Restoration: The Workbook; Born and Davis, 2010


ever been afraid of upsetting your boss, friend, or spouse? Your real fear is how they behave when they are upset. It is self empowering to identify the real fear because it enables you to examine what is in your control and what is not, especially within relationships. For instance, if you learn that you are not really afraid of upsetting someone but rather it is their behavior, then you can begin to live in the knowledge that others are responsible for their behavior not you. Even when you have upset them. When you understand that they have to make personal choices about how they deal with frustration and other emotions, then you realize that you do not have to walk on eggshells. And you can command respect, stating what you will and will not tolerate when someone is upset or angry.

One of my biggest fears is ____________________________________________________________________ _______________. When I get caught up in this fear I _______________________ ____________________________.If I look beyond this surface fear I realize that I am really afraid of ________________________________________and realizing this can empower me to ________________________________________________________.

Go Beyond Recovery to Restoration: The Workbook; Born and Davis, 2010

Tab #3 overcoming fear