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Fight the Fear, or Not!

October 17, 2010

We all have fears. Some take a lifetime to overcome. For example, I am deathly afraid of being stuck in an elevator. Years ago, when I was living in Chicago and working in the John Hancock building, I was briefly stuck (less than 60 seconds to be exact) in the elevator. When the elevator arrived at the ground floor, the doors failed to open. It didn’t take long for my heart to start racing, my eyes to begin blurring and I then stumbled to the ground (passed out). Luckily a voice came over the speaker and the doors opened. Crawling out, I became frustrated with myself and this lack of control I had over the fear, which took my mind and body hostage. 

Over the years my fear of being stuck in an elevator has not left me.  No matter where I go, if there is an elevator I will do whatever is needed to avoid stepping foot in it. I will walk numerous flight stairs (up to 6) but beyond that I am forced to suffer through the experience.

Where does this fear come from? I know that being stuck in an elevator represents a situation that I have NO control over. I would be reliant on someone to free me. That in itself is painfully scary. I am independent, strong and want to tackle everything solo, no dependence needed.

Most people have fears, some more irrational and debilitating than others. It’s important to remember that Fear limits our ability to be successful.

The 9 Most Common Phobias in Psychology (suite 101)

  1. Bugs, Mice, Snakes, and Bats. They’re unpredictable, creepy-crawly, and possibly poisonous – who wouldn’t be afraid? Spiders are the most common phobia.
  2. Heights. We’re afraid of them because we can’t fly and we could fall. These are reasonable reasons for being anxious at the top of cliffs!
  3. Water. Fear of water can be innate or learned due to a near-drowning experience. Water is a common phobia.
  4. Public Transportation. We feel more vulnerable in public crowded places because we have less control over other people or situations. Fleeing is much more difficult, making crowded places a source of anxiety.
  5. Storms. Hurricanes, tornado’s, earthquakes, and even thunderstorms can cause irrational anxiety – because we know the damage they can cause.
  6. Closed Spaces. Feeling trapped (imagine being in a coffin!) feels horrible. Evolutionary roots involve animals and traps or cages – our need to be free makes this a common phobia.
  7. Tunnels and Bridges. Going through a tunnel is similar to being in a closed space, which makes you feel vulnerable. The fear of small spaces is a common phobia.
  8. Crowds. Similar to being on crowded public transportation, huge groups of people can make us feel trapped and vulnerable. This common phobia is related to the fear of public speaking.
  9. Speaking in Public. We feel like we’ll be judged, we worry what we look and sound like, and some of us have anxiety attacks. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves, especially in front of peers.


How to Overcome Fear >>
2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2010 4:41 am

    Beth, I was never much of a public speaker and the thought of it would unnerve me. When I had to change the way I do business as a designer, I realized I was going to have to deal with this issue. After making appearances at some networking events I was asked to talk about myself in front of about 70 people. The more networking I did, the more I found myself having to speak in public. I found that the reason I was afraid wasn’t so much the public speaking as much as it was the feeling of being ill prepared. So I started rehearsing what I would say and treating it as a conversation. It’s helped a lot and even though there is always a level of anxiety when speaking in public, it’s nothing like before. Incidentally, I almost drowned in July in the Kern River out in the Northern California mountains. The experience changed my life and I don’t see water the same anymore, so I know I’ll have to face that one as well.


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