What Is An Irrational Fear, And How Do You Deal With It?

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated July 10, 2022

It is common for people to have a personal goal, such as overcoming a fear of something. For some, it may be an irrational fear that’s bothered them for a long time. Irrational fears may interfere with daily living because they can be associated with high levels of anxiety. Such intense fear is also known as a phobia. A person may develop a fear of something as a child, but the same is possible in adulthood. Understanding what and how to deal with irrational fear is essential because it may affect how you live your life.

Understanding Aspects Of Fear

Are Irritational Fears Impacting Your Daily Decisions?

There is scientific evidence that shows fear is a natural aspect of human existence. It is a significant element contributing to brain activity, such as our perceptions and emotions. It is why people share common fears, such as a fear of flying or being alone in the dark. Fear is a signal that says you don’t want to be hurt or avoid pain at all costs. You know certain things may lead to physical harm. Therefore, the fear aspect leads to you taking action or precautions to avoid consequences. While most people have a fear of something, it is unclear why people experience different levels of fear of the same things.

When you feel scared or experience fear, your body is reacting to something. That something stimulated your brain to respond with fear. Sometimes fear is associated with an experience. Other times you’re thinking of the worst outcome or something that may not be true at all. A person may change their living habits or go to great lengths to avoid doing something because of fear. Once you understand what causes your fears, you can take appropriate steps to overcome it. It may include working with a therapist to learn more about your feelings behind your fear.

Normal Vs. Irrational Fear

Fear can be healthy, especially as a child. It contributes to one’s vulnerability and sometimes makes things interesting. You can experience fear considered normal, healthy, or lifesaving, depending on the situation. The body’s fight-or-flight response allows the body to be alert and ready to protect itself when you are fearful. A person may have a fear of something, but it may help keep them safe. At this point, this kind of fear may be healthy, even if it doesn’t seem positive. How you perceive things around you as you get older influences your fears. It is why some fears, such as the fear of flying, may become an irrational fear.

Some people deal with irrational fears that prevent them from living their lives or engaging in new experiences. Such fears result from exaggerated fear. A person may be afraid of something that isn’t true, or there is no evidence to be fearful in the first place. Sometimes being a victim of a crime or doing a task that raises your anxiety may influence the development of irrational fears.

Focusing on one aspect of something could make a person more afraid. For example, a person may have a fear of flying because they don’t want to be on a plane if something goes wrong. Someone with a fear of spiders may fear them just for the way they look. Someone with a fear of heights may avoid driving over bridges or being anywhere up high. In some cases, such fears are known as phobias when accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms. If you think you have an irrational fear that is interfering with your daily living, help is available through therapy or a mental health specialist.

Why Conquering Fears Is Crucial

Some people may think they can move forward and overlook their fears, or doubt it is anything they need to worry about, but that may not be the case. Fear has a way of taking over your life, leaving many crippled and powerless. People may not recognize how fear has been holding them back. They may not see how it has become a problem in their life. Others know what their fears are but rather hide behind them and instead of facing them head-on.

Facing your fears helps you grow, and you learn something. As you take action to face your fears, you learn what to do along the way. Unfortunately, not trying to face your fears may lead to regret later. It is important to start somewhere by doing something about it.  Sometimes fearfulness leads to procrastination or putting things off. People purposely put things on hold because they are scared, but think they are doing something but putting things off until later.

Neglecting your fears can have a negative ripple effect. As mentioned, it may lead to procrastination, but with that, it also means your wasting time. You’ll lack good time management habits leading to poor planning of your time. Conquering fears lets you focus on why you have the fear in the first place. It’s an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive by thinking about what you want to accomplish if fear wasn’t holding you back.

Do you find it difficult to say “no” sometimes? Fear could be the reason. You may fear hurting someone’s feelings or coming off as weak or unreliable. A person may say “yes” to everything because they don’t want to miss out on something. For others, it could show a lack of trust in themselves. Saying “no” may allow for better things to come along with time.

A person’s thoughts could become exaggerated when fear and anxiety exist. It becomes challenging to reason. Fear may affect decision-making, and it could lead to making the wrong choice. It may also prevent the achievement of personal goals.

How To Recognize You Need Help

Irrational fears may not lead to disruptions in daily living or make things miserable. A person can have a fear of flying but never have a reason to get on a plane. However, a person could have a fear that influences decision-making. For example, you may fear crowds but opt to stay home instead of engaging in outdoor activities you enjoy.  Personal fears or phobias with little impact on your daily activities is likely something you don’t have to worry about. But, if you find yourself avoiding situations or activities because of a fear you have, and it makes daily living uncomfortable, it’s time for professional help.  Here are signs to recognize you should seek help for your fears:

  • You feel panic or anxiety that’s intense
  • You think your fear is unreasonable or too much
  • You avoid doing things or going places because of your fear
  • Your daily routines are affected by distress due to avoiding actions
  • You fear lasted for six months or more

Treatment is available for managing anxiety and understanding your fears. Practicing self-help strategies and talking to someone, such as a therapist about your fears, is useful. There are different options to consider, which plays a role in determining what is best for you. People are encouraged to learn about self-help methods and focus on realistic actions you can see yourself taking to get results. Additional support is available if your fear or phobia leads to a panic attack or severe anxiety.

Ways To Cope With Your Fears

Are Irritational Fears Impacting Your Daily Decisions?

Dealing with your fears includes taking steps to understand how it affects you and reviewing your options. Upon understanding irrational and healthy fear, you need to understand what is going onand how to navigate through it. Here are ways to help you overcome fears:

  • What is it you are afraid of, and why? Identify your fear and start processing what you know. Where did it come from, and how long have you felt this way? Sometimes you need to explore your fears further to understand a possible origin. It could be from a negative experience you had in the past.
  • Once you know what your fear is, make plans to tackle it head it. Some people make a list of their fears and choose one to start a plan. You can list things related to the fear and work on it one step at a time by talking about it or visualizing yourself completing the steps. The idea is to establish a goal of what you hope to accomplish when tackling your fear.
  • Remember, other people have fears too. The concept of fear is nothing new to most people. Sometimes its how you look atfear, you gain motivation to face it. Fear may signal you don’t want the truth about something. You may learn about something dangerous or evil. You may fear opinions or what people may say about you. In many cases, fear is a false perception without evidence that appears to be real.
  • Find ways to practice and forgive yourself. As you get more familiar with your fear and why it exists, it may not bother you as much as before. Forgiving yourself keeps the situation in perspective while staying positive and looking forward to the future.

You can deal with your fears with self-help techniques and talk therapy options, including online therapy and support groups. The sooner you reach out to help, the easier and faster it will be to move on from fear so you can enjoy life.

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.