How to overcome your fears after an accident or significant emotional moment

The Journey To Overcome Fear

As the recent months have shown. Life isn’t with some amount of uncertainty. While any sort of natural disaster, such as the recent fires in Northern California, or the devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico, can cause fear. So does a life-threatening accident, be it a car accident, nearly suffocating in a house fire, or even falling through the rotted plank of an unsafe floor. Each of these moments can be a debilitating experience both in the present as well as over time. Such events can have a ripple effect on the lives of their survivors. These “ripples” can include crippling fear whenever placed within anything related to the accident, fleeting moments of frozen terror, nausea, nightmares involving the accident, disgust, or obsessions with all things pertinent to the accident. Other emotions like denial, depression, hallucinations and even paranoid delusions can manifest with PTSD after an accident. While any of these conditions would be difficult to incorporate into daily life, the good news is, there are many ways a person can work through their personal fears and disturbances individually and as part of a group experience. Knowing how to overcome these feelings of trauma can be both empowering and uplifting towards helping you move on.



While this is the most obvious method to recovery, and a common process used to overcome fear, it is still worth mentioning. A psychologist is a professional listener who can work you through your anxieties through talking and exercises. A psychiatrist is someone familiar with the works involved in psychology, but who can also prescribe medications to aid those suffering from more dramatic problems. Professionals in this field are growing and emerging with new techniques including the ability to see patients online and while mobile.

It is important to understand you aren’t alone. A fact I picked up on the website for the American Psychological Association (APA).  “According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than a quarter of American adults experience depression, anxiety or another mental disorder in any given year.”

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

“CBT” is a series of exercises used to rewrite a person’s reaction to, particularly stressful or unpleasant behavior.

The definition from the Mayo Clinic is another way to understand how CBT works; “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of talk therapy (psychotherapy). You work with a mental health counselor (psychotherapist or therapist) in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. “

For example, a person who survives an accident involving a semi-truck might reflexively begin to scratch at the parts of his body that were injured from the collision whenever a similar truck is within sight. Using CBT, a victim might be told to remain mindful of triggers and to actively do something else with their hands whenever triggered. After enough time and practice, the individual’s constant awareness erodes the reflexive fear, resulting in a minimization or removal of the fear.

Exposure Therapy

This subsection of CBT involves steadily increasing the patient’s familiarity, proximity, and duration of exposure to the source of debilitating fears. By slowly and methodically upping the period of exposure, a person begins to see the trigger as less threatening and more mundane. It takes a lot of time, but exposure therapy can be effective, especially when walked through it professionally. In 2016, the Atlantic did an interesting article worth reading on State Of Art Exposure Therapy.



Physical exertion, such as a one-mile jog, or a game of basketball, has been shown to improve a person’s mental well-being by distracting the person from his fears and also serving as a means of bolstering self-esteem. This is a great way to work through restless energy and adrenaline that can come with fear, and help to make your experience in recovery shorter. But remember the exercise doesn’t have to mean you go from zero to ten. if you aren’t someone who does it regularly start slow. Walks alone or with a friend. Consider borrowing a friends dog if you haven’t one and volunteer to take that 4-legged stress reducer for an always welcomed outing.


Next Steps & Resources

While everyone is afraid of something, not everyone shows fear the same way. In cases where a person develops intense fears after a traumatic or other frightening experience, it’s heartening to know there are multiple routes that can be used when restoring a calm state of mind.

I have listed more resources that can help you with a journey to overcome fear on the MentorSF Links page.

For those considering mental and emotions health support, two recommendations here in the Bay Area that I am especially impressed with include EMERGE, the Adams-Tynan Clinical Foundation (ATCF) is a nonprofit therapeutic organization founded by Luke Adams and Chad Tynan and led by trained, intuitive, Somatic, Environmental, and Transpersonal healers (full disclosure here, I was so impressed with them, I recently agreed to sit on the Advisory Board) and Steven Tierney of the  Tierney Psychotherapy Group. For those of you on the East Coast, I recommend you check out Psychotherapist, Sex Therapist, and Educator, David Ortman.

For other locations, you can call your local or state psychological association, which may have a list of practicing psychologists organized by geographic area or specialty. Or use the online directory, at the APA’s Psychologist Locator Service.


Narrative Resources: