18. September 2016 · Comments Off on Phobias are more than just being scared · Categories: Confidence, phobias, problems, spiders

If you’ve read my previous blogs, or spoken to me about hypnotherapy, you probably know I got into this because of the awful phobias of spiders I had. Seriously, this phobia was bad. I would check all corners of every room I went into (and couldn’t stay if there was a spider, regardless of size), I would pretty much unmake my bed before I got in it each night, there were spiders EVERYWHERE, I would avoid doing things I knew there would be spiders, and I would run, scream, flap and cry if I had to be near one, or one unexpectedly appeared.

That’s all gone now since I had some therapy (three sessions, and now I don’t care about them! Ha! It still amazes me all these years on!), but I can remember what it felt like. The panic. The overwhelming space it took up in my brain. How it consumed each day, and night.

So if you come to me, and say you have a phobia, I believe you. I believe that how you’re saying it is, it’s actually ten times worse, but you’re embarrassed that as an adult you act that way, how out of control you can feel. I believe that you want to do something about it, but it’s such a huge thing, you just don’t see how it will work.

Well, all I ask is you try. What have you got to lose, apart from the cost of three sessions? What have you got to gain, apart from, you know, just having your life back full of freedom…?

I specialise in anxiety and phobias, and generally, there are three types of phobias I come across; Learnt phobias, Shock phobias, and Link phobias. This blog article is all about learnt phobias.

Learnt phobias are the ones you gather as you’re growing up. So, for example, I used to have a learnt phobia of thunderstorms. I would check the clouds, I was able to recognise which shapes and colours meant that a storm was potentially coming, which temperatures would affect the chances, that stillness just before. When I heard the thunder or saw the lightning, I would sweat, shake and feel sick. I would want to hide from windows and mirrors, turn lights on, unplug aerials in televisions, and if we were in bed, I would go to the front room. If it was really bad in the night, I’d get dressed too. Because, you know, we might need to evacuate.

This was TOTALLY a learnt phobia. My Mum taught me the majority of the phobia, but my Nan (Mum’s mum) taught me the more extreme parts, such as hiding completely under the duvet (and nearly passing out from the heat), getting dressed, or creeping back up the stairs so as to not bring the thunder back once it had gone in the night. My great-Nan taught my Nan other things too, such as putting away the silver, or covering up mirrors. So, you see, it really was a sort of tradition. The women in this family, yes, they’re scared of thunderstorms.

And then I moved 300 miles away, and found that I was just a bit too busy for this phobia. It became an annoyance. If it thundered, I still needed to go to work. There was still work that needed completing for uni. I didn’t really have time to hide any more. I COULD get up and get dressed and go into the front room when it thundered at night, or I could stay in bed. It was this that made me start to question whether this phobia was actually as much of a phobia as I thought, or just one I’d learnt. For me, realising it was all learnt behaviour was enough for me to stop doing those behaviours. When you stop doing the behaviours associated with the learnt phobia, the phobia disappears, because it wasn’t really there in the first place, it was just the things I was doing in response that made the phobia appear.

It was just something I did, because I’d always done it.

Learnt phobias can go immediately, or a few weeks later. The thing with a learnt behaviour is that it’s habit, so just as some ex-smokers just give up, some need a bit of support to get them out of the habit. Learnt phobias are exactly the same.

If you think your phobia is learnt, my recommendation is to write down all the behaviours and rituals you have around that phobia. Then, put plans in place to change them. The last step is to actually do those plans.

As always, if you need a hand, get in touch. I can write you a nice, short, personalised MP3 that will get those new plans in place super quickly for you. But you can do this. You’re in control of you. This was just something you learnt, so why not learn something new in its place, now?

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