7 Things to know about your phobia?
I am asked a lot ‘how do I get rid of my phobia?’, so here are 7 things to know about phobias to help people make lasting change, and get it fast!
The mind has created the phobia with a positive intention
A phobia starts out as fear and a response to either an event that happened to us at some point in our lives or it is simply created by fearful thinking that is repeated and amplified. If you had something happen and you have a clear memory of an event then it makes more sense to us as to why it’s there. If you have no memory of trigger event, then it can often makes no sense at all.
No matter when or where the phobia has been created by the mind. It has also been made to help you in some way. The subconscious mind is trying to protect you from something happening in the future. Your mind puts sensory information into what we know as thoughts, inside our mind with any combination of images, sounds, inner chatter and/or feelings.
The positive intention of a ‘fear of heights’ might be to stop you being hurt. positive intention of a phobia of spiders is probably one of basic survival. But it’s not necessarily true. We can v=be very scared of a small bit of fluff, that for a split second we thought was a spider, our heart races, our breathing speeds up, we go into ‘flight or freeze mode’, because our mind recognised the fluff as a deadly spider… but it was mistake… there is no danger, unless it’s some kind of deadly fluff! (if that was the case, stay safe)
Phobias are not ‘Deep rooted’
We often talk in literal language when we chat to people about a problem that we have in our thinking, for example way might say things like, ‘I can’t imagine how I could get over this’, ‘I just can’t get over it’, or ‘I have had it for years and it will take years to get rid of it’.
Phobias are simply about how we construct our thinking about the world around us. The thinking starts around some kind of stimulus, take for example, seeing a little bit of fluff on the carpet or hearing a specific sound. We then go inside our heads and the process begins, usually it’s quite a quick process and hard for us to stop or change the thinking (if we are even aware of it that is). The next thing we are running through scenarios, seeing images of how it might go wrong, hearing our inner chatter or sounds in our mind that relate to the phobia, we start to feel something in our body, maybe a weight in our chest or a churning feeling in your stomach.
If you will, notice that, no matter the phobia, the sensory system will go into overdrive, trying to protect you from some form of what it perceives to be ‘danger’, then trigger feelings and a physical response. So, when I am working with a client with a fear of needles for example, the number of years that they have had the issue plays no significance. It is not ‘deep rooted’… it is sorted in the same amount of time no matter how long the individual has ‘had the phobia’.
Sometimes I will work with a client on a phobia, it’s sorted in a few hours and at the end of the session, they might mention something else that they want help with. Often it’s something that they would have felt to embarrassed about to ask for help with a new therapist. But once they have seen the results of the phobia therapy, they trust that they can be free from the ‘bigger stuff’ like trauma and loss. So, although issues are not deep rooted, sometimes there are another few issues that can be sorted when you allow the space to do so.
It’s often not that logical
You might have heard statement like ‘fight or flight’, or ‘fight, flight or freeze’. This is basically our instinctive reactions to some form of warning event. for example if a big wooly mammoth or sabertooth tiger popped out in-front of our cavemen or cavewoman ancestors, they would probably automatically fight with the creature (if they had it in them) or run as fast they their feet would carry them. The reptilian brain or the very old parts of the human brain that evolved first are set to protect you no matter what.
People have fear of things like tomato ketchup, bridges, specific colours, going out of there front door… clients also always tend to say that they ‘know that it’s not rational’ or ‘I know it does not make sense’. That said, this is them talking at a very conscious level, a lot of the programming we have in our minds is subconscious, which is in part meaning, simply that we are not aware of it.
How we construct our phobia is more important than what you are actually fearful of
If you think about your phobia with your eyes closed, in your mind there will be images, sounds, inner chatter and/or feelings. The combination of these is quite specific to the thing that you are scared off. The senses tend to be overloaded in one or two of these sensory representations in your mind. How you structure your thoughts can help me as a coach and therapist to quickly identify subtle points then help collapse the negative emotions linked to the thinking, this then improves how you feel about the whole thing.
I can help you achieve this without even knowing what the issue was, I can do it content free, without even hearing ‘the story’ of what the phobia actually is about. With content I can get a better understanding of the subtle language patterns that will help you make lasting change. Essentially, the way your mind has constructed the phobia is more important than the actual phobia and how it came to be there or what happened in the past to create it.
To understand how to address the phobia, the ‘story’ is not always the key to making lasting change
I had a client early in my practice as an NLP Coach who spoke at length about her fears and phobias, she had attended counselling for years, had invested thousands of her hard earned cash on counselling and other talking therapies. She was in the habit of thinking that is, if I tell my story about how this came about, even though just thinking about it made her feel awful, it would in the long term, somehow miraculously cure her of her phobia and crippling fears.
I listed initially and never cut her off, the stories were long and in HD detail. I have 100% respect for people and their fears and phobias, but what I learned a long time ago is that talking about it simply does not help us get over it long term without fairly invasive and hard to enact strategies. Eventually I asked her to stop, close her eyes, focus on the issue and we worked on it in less than 60 minutes. She came back to tell me that she does not know what I done, but she is no longer scared and now faces what used to be a really scary activity every day with a fairly neutral and inquisitive mindset.
I see this a lot, especially in driven and determined clients who clearly want to change, but sadly have not been given the right tools to make it a reality and struggle every day with the impact on their lives from a phobia that could be addressed in a few sessions.
I am ‘insert phobia’
We often label ourselves as a ‘needle phobic’ or ‘I am scared of heights’, when actually that label may not always be helpful. In the longer term, especially when you are not scared of the past phobia, there is a need to start to recognise and sense that you are a person who ‘can deal with it’, whatever that is for you. I have seen clients get past a phobia that they have had for 10, 20, 50 years plus and they achieve what it was they set out to do… then they decide to try to hold onto the identity of ‘I am scared of [insert past phobia]’.
This behaviour is quite natural and I see it fairly often, BUT it is just a pattern, learned and needing to be broken. Where there is no need for the phobia to be there any longer and you are no longer that person who is scared of this or that. This can take as little as one session to help people get past a phobia and re-identify with the ‘new you’ who does not have these issues.
Getting help to get rid of your phobia forever
I believe 100%, that phobias can be fixed in 1 to 3 sessions, mostly in my experience in one session clients are able to face their fears head on. On my second session with a lady who had a phobia of swimming, she was petrified to go into the water. If you want help to get rid of your phobia, then get in contact and let’s get it sorted sooner than later.
I hope these ‘7 things to know about phobias’ is helpful, please share it with other people you know if they struggle with a phobia.