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Managing Fear and Phobias on Your OwnSelf-talk

Your feelings, your mood, and your general outlook on life are determined to a great extent by what you tell yourself. When something happens to you, your mind interprets it in a certain way, and that is what determines how you feel about the event. For example, have you ever gone to a party or out on a date with someone who ends the night by saying “I'll call you’;? Imagine that you really like this person, and you want her to call. Will she? Maybe you say to yourself, “We had a great time, and she looked really happy when she left. She'll definitely call.” You are thrilled and excited. On the other hand, imagine that you say to yourself, “I don't think she liked the movie, and she looked sort of bored at the party. She's not going to call.” You're crushed and unhappy.

Think about it. It is the same event, the same statement. The only difference between the two situations is your interpretation. What does this mean? It means that you are largely responsible for the way you feel— and that you can change the way you feel. You just need a new, more positive outlook.

Try Telling Yourself…

You may not realize it, but you are talking to yourself, interpreting events, all the time. When you feel afraid, it is often because you have begun asking yourself “What if?” or saying to yourself “I can't.” To overcome your fear and anxiety, try replacing these anxious messages with positive ones. When you begin to feel afraid, try using some of the questions and statements below. Say them to yourself or say them out loud if you need to.

Ask yourself:

What's the worst thing that could happen?

If the worst does happen, how could I handle it?

How likely is it that (my fear) will happen?

Has (my fear) happened in the past?

What proof do I have that (my fear) will happen?

Tell yourself:

This isn't hopeless.

It's just fear. It will pass.

I can retreat if I have to.

I can do this.

I believe in myself.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaPhobiasPhobias - Managing Fear and Phobias on Your Own - Self-talk, Visualization, Desensitization, A Word Of Warning