How I can I change the way I respond to fear?

Todd Farchione, PhD
There are two key behavioral changes you should try to make to change the way you respond to your fears.

First, try to adopt a pattern of approach, as opposed to avoidance. Avoidance can take on many forms. Sometimes it can be more obvious, while at other times, it can be much more subtle and difficult to identify. Try to consider the function of your behaviors. If you’re doing something as a way to prevent yourself from being afraid, it’s probably an avoidance behavior, and may be something that you’ll want to change.

Second, try to act in a way that is different than what your fear prompts you to do. If you have the urge to run away, then simply plant your feet. If you notice that you’re tensing your body, clenching your fists or gripping tightly onto something for a sense of safety and support, try to relax your muscles, open your hands and loosen your grip. Also, try to stay in the situation long enough for you to see some reduction in your fear. One of the worst things you can do is escape from a situation at the height of your fear response. If you leave or escape when the fear is greatest, you can actually strengthen the connection between the situation and your feelings of fear.

This content originally appeared on

Continue Learning about Emotions

Combat Feeling Sad with a Good Memory
Combat Feeling Sad with a Good Memory
Do you ever find yourself feeling sad but don't know exactly why? Tempted to just brush past it? Well, don't. Understanding the source of your sadness...
Read More
What is the difference between emotions and feelings?
William B. Salt II., MDWilliam B. Salt II., MD
From a neurobiological standpoint, emotions are generated in your body when your limbic system (...
More Answers
How could fear hinder my ability to solve a problem?
Erik FisherErik Fisher
When I talk about fear and problem-solving with people, I talk about a progression from logic to...
More Answers
3 Ways to Boost Your Mood
3 Ways to Boost Your Mood

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.