Understanding and Managing Fear


‘Gender differences occur particularly in the rates of common mental disorders – depression, anxiety and somatic complaints. These disorders, in which women predominate, affect approximately 1 in 3 people in the community and constitute a serious public health problem.’ (WHO, 2012)

‘A crucial driving force, for the individuals or groups affected, fear is both a cause and a result of conflict.’ (Feminenza Report to UN WOMEN, 2011)

Fear is a natural human response to living.  Some fears are necessary for survival; some we have to learn to live with. They moderate our lives – whether we are aware of their influence or not.  In the task of becoming adult, gathering ourselves, knowing ourselves, having ourselves,  having self confidence  – the challenge of understanding and managing fear is ongoing.

For women in particular, fears typically show up in the symptoms of depression, anxiety, worry about our appearance, a reluctance to leave a destructive relationship and, of course, in conflict. Sometimes our lives become frozen by one act, one fear, one moment.

The good news, however, is that one can take charge of one’s life. The Understanding and Managing Fear process is a two day experience, from an original idea developed by Position Purple (Israel) with excellent results with military personnel and civilians. In 2008-2011 Feminenza worked extensively with victims of armed conflict, in conditions where Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was common and where communities were still in mortal danger.  In 2012 the process was extensively updated to to reflect current evidence and to ensure that the fears of both feminine and masculine genders were effectively represented and addressed.

The process provides women and men with the tools to:

  • identify one’s fears,
  • learn how to bring fears to a standstill,
  • gain deeper insight and understanding of oneself, to be less affected by fear,
  • acquire the means to manage ongoing fears quietly, resolutely,
  • move on, re-acquire choice, restart a self-determining existence.

There is no need to share any part of one’s life with the others participating in the process.  Although it is a workshop, undertaken with others, the process is utterly private and it is effective.

Specially trained and accredited facilitators conduct the process.

The experience

The process usually takes two days. It starts with a half day briefing. These help one to grasp how, and why, fear overcomes the rational mind, floods the senses, feelings and – very often – leads to loss of self control upon one’s subsequent actions. It is followed by a guided private and reflective, three stage experience.

  • The first is a process in which participants are guided through a sequence in which they identify fears that have affect over them.
  • The second enables the participant to reflect upon the other inner influences in their life: strengths, qualities and achievements.
  • The third and final stage: participants review, in a structured way, the trace of their life so far and, pivotally, take decisions about how they wish to face their future life. The decisions are simple, practical, and must be utterly achievable.


“She didn’t know she had the qualities to deal with her fear and now she appreciates her qualities and is able to identify her fears and manage them better.”

“Her husband was killed during the post-election violence in 2007. When he died she was traumatized and had fear. They said that he was the gang leader. As a consequence she had fear of coming together with others; she could not even speak to others when they met. She feared how she would care for her 5 children. The experience has been a great assistance to her. She can now go to church – she could not before. She has developed courage through identifying both her fears and her qualities to help deal with her fears – to go forward. She can now take care of her children better. She can now mingle with people fully.”

“[the experience] has changed us. Before [the Fear Management experience] we would fear to go to [a place where one tribe was dominant] where they hated [her tribe], we feared sending children to schools where they were. Since [the Fear Management experience] we have really changed.”

“It has made the difference between running and staying to face fears. It has made me powerful and able to see my strengths.”

“I learned that I can have an issue, and that I don’t have to stay with the fear but can handle the fear.”

“I’m happy.  This taught me about what I’ve been through and how I can tackle a fear.”

“I’m happy and I learned I don’t want to live through that fear.  I can let it go.”

“I feel that I moved into a different level.  I feel that I won’t any longer neglect myself and think that I can’t do things.”

“The cards being [my language], and with the fears that were written there, made me feel that you ladies know what we have been through.  There is a change in my heart and after this I feel that I can now cope.  We here have been through so much.  Thank you”

“I am happy.  We passed through so many things.  I don’t want it to be the end.”

“I feel that we here are all on the same page after this.  It was powerful.  We have been told we are nothing and …we can do everything.”

“I know now that it is not too late to realize my dreams.”

“Everyone here has helped my heart.  I feel I’ve been given the next step and can overcome any situation.  It feels I can handle anything that comes now.  Thank you for giving us the strength to be new people.”

“No matter how much we have been through, and it has been a lot, I feel we can do anything, if we want to.  It gives me strength to learn how you can help someone with something so simple and powerful.”

For more information

To find out more about this process, if you wish to try out the experience for yourself, or if you wish to improve your abilities in supporting groups with special needs, please email fear.management@feminenza.org.