Phobias are another form of Mental Health condition. They can be rational - like the fear of falling - or irrational like the fear of mice or frogs - two that my wife fears!! It's highly unlikely that a mouse will kill you but a fall, even a small one can quite easily if you're particularly unlucky. Fear of falling is the ONLY fear that we are born with. Protecting our head (brain) is key to your survival and therefore any fall where you risk hitting your head is to be avoided at all costs.
All other phobias are LEARNT! How much do you remember from your Exams when you were at school?
We can forget a lot of stuff too.
Phobias range from completely debilitating fears like agoraphobia (fear of being outside) to a just mildly annoying like Globophobia (fear of balloons)
The reason behind developing these phobias may come from a seemingly rational cause but the holding on to that fear is generally irrational.
Is it really Irrational?
Take the fear of balloons as an example. We know that a simple balloon is highly unlikely to hurt us. However, when it pops, it makes a loud noise. We are programmed to focus attention to loud noises. If a sudden loud noise occurs, our ears will be able to detect, almost exactly, what direction the noise came from via the tectal pathways (tectal pathway is a link between eye movement and sound).
This means that we can use our eyes to scan the surroundings for the threat. Chances are a loud noise - like a herd of elephants running towards us OR a tiger roaring - might signify a threat to our life - hearing a balloon pop may not physically be a threat to our life but loud noises are linked with threat deep within our subconscious.
Can understanding the mechanics of WHY we have developed a fear of something help us to RID us of that FEAR?
We may also develop a fear of something because of an emotional event.
Lets take agoraphobia as our other example. Let's say that you were involved in a big accident in an event that was happening outside like a festival. You may have feared for your life at that time and from then, you developed a fear of being outside or a fear of crowds. At the time it is rational. The threat to your life could be real. However, in day-to-day living, that threat is not there, we don't always walk around in a threatening situation.
Do you have a Phobia?
The brain makes you act in a specific way when you are confronted with your fear.
Symptoms can include:
feeling unsteady, dizzy, lightheaded or faint
feeling like you are choking
a pounding heart, palpitations or accelerated heart rate
chest pain or tightness in the chest
hot or cold flushes
shortness of breath or a smothering sensation
nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
numbness or tingling sensations
trembling or shaking
Can we reframe the feeling? i.e. can we use those symptoms and associate them with something else?
All of these symptoms seem very much like High Blood Pressure and Anxiety.
They could also look like excitement!! (maybe not the vomiting and diarrhoea)
So, fear can also be excitement.
When you are afraid, think:
"oooo, this is exciting, I don't know what will happen next, let's find out!"
We also know that to deal with High Blood Pressure and Anxiety, light exercise, meditation, mindfulness exercises, or some other relaxation technique can be used to ease the symptoms. You may also want to consider:
Exposure Therapy - this is NOT anything to do with being naked!! More like exercise in the gym or training for a marathon, you start small and get bigger. You may start with exposing yourself to a small amount of the thing you fear and over time you become desensitised to the small amount and can build up to dealing with more and more of the stressful fear.
Hypnotherapy - a talking based therapy that can find the specific cause of the trauma/fear and help you to then deal with the fear internally and in the future you can deal with a phobia more calmly.
Medication - there are a variety of different types of medication that can help - speak to your medical professionals for those.
We all have fears of some description. They can be completely rational or irrational. Some may effect large parts of your life, others may not.
Can you "forget" or at least re-train yourself to overcome you fears? You can reframe the symptoms of fear into excitement - I'm both scared and excited about writing blogs - is the information correct? Am I giving the right information? Is it boring or exciting to read? But it's also exciting to test, it pushes my boundaries of comfort, it may lead me on to do something bigger and better or more useful.
As ever your feedback is important to me. Please leave a comment if you found this useful (or not), easy to read, funny or utterly shit. I always appreciate your thoughts.