How 5 Women Overcame Their Biggest Phobias

By Nicole Pajer
Reviewed by Rebecca Thurston, Ph.D.
February 27, 2023

Are you afraid of spiders? Hate to stand near the edge of a cliff? Terrified of public speaking? You’re not alone. An estimated 12.5 percent of American adults experience a phobia at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

4 Ways to Overcome a Phobia

The good news is that “fears can be conquered, even later in life,” says Puja Aggarwal, M.D., a board-certified neurologist in Orlando, Florida. Aggarwal shares four strategies for overcoming fear:

  1. Identify your phobia. Name it and recognize it.
  2. Write about it. Record how you feel about your fears and its impact on you. Jot down alternative thoughts you’d like to have about your fear or phobia.
  3. Visualization with relaxation. Relax your body through progressive muscle relaxation or another method. Visualize yourself facing your phobia. Can you face that thing you’re afraid of? What would that look like? Visualize yourself living without your phobia. What might that version of your life look like? How would you feel? Can you calm your body as you do this? Keep breathing. Practicing relaxation with visualization can decouple the body’s fear response from the object of your fear and make it easier to face in real life.
  4. Seek out the help of a therapist. Look for a licensed mental health professional who specializes in helping people overcome phobias. You may also want to consider attending a support group that’s led by a therapist who’s professionally trained to educate around specific phobias and fears.

You have more choice in the matter than you may think. “Developing the awareness that most of the time fears are about knowing the difference you make in your head, and whether or not to react or respond to them, is an important factor that can be a simple place to start,” says Catherine Lenard, a life coach and author of Your Divine Riches: Your How To Guide for Creating the Life You Want.