We are born with only two fears, the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling, so the question is why are we fearful of so many other things in life?
In short, the fears that we experience are learnt behaviours. Our subconscious mind is designed to keep us safe, and in many respects, it does a very good job of doing so, the problem is, that there are times that the job is so good that it ends up being to the detriment of our health and wellness.
I worked with a client some time ago who had developed a fear of driving, they couldn’t explain where this fear had come from, only that whenever faced with getting behind the wheel of their car they would experience a panic attack, rendering them almost paralysed with fear.
What we discovered during our sessions was that the client had had an accident. they had been rear end shunted and the car written off. Shortly after this event they had become ill and soon after one of their parents had become very ill, was hospitalised for many months and then passed away.
When we look at this scenario what we see is that the subconscious mind is associating negative thought processes towards driving, so the safest thing to do is avoid getting in the car, thus keeping the client safe.
Once we had rationalised the series of events and the client could see that they were in fact in no danger, the fear was overcome and they were able to start driving with confidence again and continue with their life as normal.
But when does a fear become a phobia?
A fear becomes a phobia when the response is so great that it interferes with everyday life. It becomes so debilitating that the anxiety creates both a physical and emotional response - a little like the client in my case study above.
Symptoms of phobic reaction can be dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, increased heart rate and upset stomach.*
As I mentioned previously, fears and phobias are learnt behaviour, they may manifest from our own personal experiences or, they may be as a result of something we have witnessed at some point in our life.
Take a fear of needles for example. Many of us will remember standing in line outside of the Nurses office at school, waiting for one of the many inoculations we were subjected to as kids, there was no doubt an awareness to the emotional responses of those around us, seeing the fear or panic in others. It’s quite normal to take on that rationale and become fearful of the situation ourselves, as we expect the experience to be traumatic, becoming anxious and worried, but by the time of getting to the front of the line soon realised that actually is was nothing to worry about, it was as the Nurse said, “just a small prick’.
Unfortunately for some, that same rationale doesn’t kick in, the fear is already embedded and over a period of time becomes more and more intense, our behaviour can then be passed on to our children, who through this learnt behaviour develop their own anxieties, fears and phobias, not from their own personal experiences, but from what they have witnessed in us, their protectors.
When we use hypnosis and hypnotherapy techniques we are able to work with the subconscious mind and press the reset button, thus reminding it that there really is no longer a need for protection and the feelings of fear and anxiety are old outdated thought patterns that can be deleted just like deleting an old answer machine message.
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*These symptoms will have been present for at least 6 months before being considered a phobic reaction by a GP.