It is easy to be fearful in today’s world. Just listening to the news, can set off anxiety. Terrorist attacks, beheadings and rampant shootouts have become daily occurrences. How is it possible not to panic?
One main method of helping a client to reduce anxiety is to ask the question: “Where is the evidence?” When a client does research and cannot find hard evidence to substantiate a fear, rational thinking causes the fear to subside.
Here are some illustrations of common fears and how collecting evidence helped reduce anxiety.
- Suzy needs to travel overseas. She tells her therapist that she is petrified that her aeroplane will be shot down. Her fear appears to make perfect sense because only a few months ago an Air Malaysia aeroplane was shot down over the Ukraine.
The therapist asked Suzy: “Where is the evidence that you will be shot down? Bring me proof that there is a high possibility that you will be shot down by terrorists.”
Suzy did some research. She learned that only 5 commercial planes have been shot down since 1973. That makes it 5 planes in 41 years. It is a no brainer that this number proves that it is highly unlikely that Suzy’s plane will be shot down. Learning the true facts enabled Suzy to stop worrying.
- Brad is afraid of swimming in the ocean because he is terrified of being attacked by a shark. When asked “Where is the evidence? What are the statistical odds of you being killed by a shark? ”, he did his research.
Brad found that compared to injuries and fatalities from other forms of water related activities, the number of shark attacks in Australia is extremely low. In the last 50 years there has been 45 unprovoked shark attack fatalities which averages just under one per year.
Now that he was armed with the facts, Brad was able to face his fears and go swimming at the beach.
Fears are simply that – fears. We can create and nurture our own fears by thinking negatively and amplifying events. Or we can keep our thinking rational by focusing on the facts of a situation.
The next time that you become afraid, challenge your thinking by asking yourself “Where is the evidence?” Let the facts determine your thinking – not your fears.