SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — From a virus, to germs, to spiders, to our finances, these days it seems like we all have something we’re fearful of.
While we don’t usually associate that as a positive thing, one psychologist says fear isn’t the problem, it’s how we respond to it, and with the right mindset, a little bit of fear is actually good for you.
Erika Kotite has a few common fears that she’s tried to steer clear of. Being near the water is one of them. Fear of failure is another. But when it started to affect her career as a writer, she knew she needed to take charge of the problem. “Writing a screenplay, something that I had in my head forever, was a beast. I finally realized I almost felt like I was afraid of finishing,” Kotite said.
According to a recent survey, more people are afraid than ever before. Our fears range from finance to illness, even pollution. Worse yet, they can lead to anxiety, depression, and other serious health conditions.
“Destructive fear wants to keep us immobilized,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a Clinical Psychologist and Author, stated. She says fear doesn’t have to be destructive. Managed properly, it can actually help lead to positive changes in our lives. “Every destructive message of fear has a positive side. We just don’t pause to listen to it,” said Manly.
So how do we change how we look at fear? Especially when it involves the demands of work? “If we do not take action, one baby step at a time, we do not transform our lives,” Manly explained. Carla says to outline your priorities. Stay firm on your goal. Stay aware. If it doesn’t feel good, stop doing it. “There will be a voice that says speak up for yourself,” said Manly.
“Fear was not necessarily something to run from but that I could actually work with it,” Kotite realized. Erika is now putting the finishing touches on her screenplay.
“It’s a good screenplay,” Kotite said.
Dr. Manly also outlines in her new book, Joy From Fear, that fear can also lead to chronic stress, which is widespread among society. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to those warning signs — exhaustion, irritability and negativity.
If you feel like you’re experiencing chronic stress, slow down, say no to extra work, get plenty of rest, and stay connected to friends and family.