What do you associate with the word Anxiety? Fear of the exam, fear of one lecture, fear of looking bad, fear of failure? Have you ever been afraid to ask a question? Below are some Methods described for dealing with fear.

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Almost everyone is afraid

you would be for sure not the first person to be confronted with fears during the PhD. Almost everyone has fears, but hardly anyone talks about them. The higher in the hierarchy, the less.

What is fear? First of all, fear is an unpleasant feeling that we feel and that can develop e.g. B. in clammy hands, increasing breathing rate or faster heartbeat. Fear works, and this is important to know, on your own thoughts and ultimately even on your own Behavior, We feel tense, more irritable and often unable to fall asleep. Some People retreat out of fear. Ways out of fear are sometimes sought by taking medication or alcohol.

Fear is a learned reaction

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Fears can arise as a result of physical illnesses, Cardiac diseases, respiratory disease or thyroid hyperfunction. This chapter deals with so-called psychological anxieties, that is, those with no physical causes. We are not talking of anxieties where psychiatric help is necessary. PREETZ [1] distinguishes two central mechanisms of anxiety:

Fear as a learned reaction and fear as an expression of deeper emotional ones Problems. Do you have music that you associate with an emotionally positive moment? E.g. with your first great love? When you listen to this music, you immediately think of your positive feelings at that time and you feel transported back to the situation like in a time machine, don't you? Unfortunately, this principle also works with negative feelings such as fear. Fear becomes a reaction to external stimuli. It can happen that the external stimulus is no longer perceived, but only the fear as a result.

Where do our fears come from?

Where are the fears now? The psychologist DORIS WOLF [2] offers three explanations for the cause of fears:

  1.  Fear is innate and not degradable,
  2. Anxiety is naturally triggered by certain stimuli, or
  3. People produce their fears themselves.

DORIS WOLF argues: Would 1. and anxiety would be innate and non-degradable, then it would be difficult to overcome one's fears and experience anxiety-free situations at one time or another. But this can be observed. 1. obviously does not apply. Now to 2. If fear were naturally triggered by certain stimuli, there should be no differences between different persons. In fact, there are massive differences in individual anxiety perception. So it's 2 too. disproved. Now there is 3 left. We produce our fears ourselves. Is not that something cynical? It may seem so at first glance, but it opens up great opportunities in dealing with fears. Fears are actually individual interpretations of situations.

The ABC model

Emotions and therefore also fear arise according to the so-called ABC model in three steps: A situation (A) is experienced by us. Now this situation is judged quickly on the basis of our experiences (B) and there is a reaction (C), here the fear.

An example:

Do you have examples from your life?

What is exciting now is that it is for that Brain It doesn't matter whether you're just imagining a situation or actually experiencing it. The feelings are the same. thoughts and images in Head produce the same feelings as real situations experienced. Therefore, many athletes visualize z. B. on downhill skiing before the departure many times how they whiz down the ideal line and win the race.

What would you think of a downhill skiing champion who imagined many times himself going off the corner and losing the race? Crazy enough, when it comes to the situations that frighten them, people do just that: they imagine themselves failing over and over again; B. in the exam. The fear becomes stronger and stronger. It consolidates itself due to the repeated "experience". Although the frightening situation is unreal.

Fear is individual

Fear is the individual experience of a certain situation. One could say in a very polarizing way, “People produce their own fears” - depending on how they react to a situation. This does not mean that everyone is responsible for their own fear, that would be an unhelpful interpretation, but that fear is an individual experience of a situation.

Do you know people who practice extreme sports like bungee jumping or skydiving? What do these people say when asked if they are not afraid to practice these sports? "Of course I'm afraid - that's the kick!" This is an example of a positive experience of a situation that could also be experienced as fear. Therefore, many people do not do extreme sports.

When do you encounter fears?

In which situations can fears arise during an examination or doctorate? It would be conceivable:

Is fear now a hindrance?

Not only, fear is also a vital protection function, which is first and foremost essential. The fear of crossing an expressway or the fear of the abyss on a hike on narrow ridges in the Alps helps us to survive.

However, our fears often inhibit our own further development. In everyday doctoral studies, fears are usually more of an inhibition of development than a protective function. Or to put it more succinctly: "Wherever your fear is, you have to go there because there is your development potential." We are - and this is important - not about fears in need of treatment, but about those that inhibit our personal development!

So what can you do to deal with fears?

You may first ask yourself whether the fear useful is. Example questions would be:

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