Are you afraid of heights, open or enclosed spaces, snakes, bugs, spiders or water? Well, you are not alone. Our prehistoric ancestors had the same fears which is mainly how they survived! So what are some of the most common fears that we have today? Strangely they are very similar - heights, confined spaces, snakes, bugs/spiders and water. Our environment has changed dramatically, but our minds have not!
Let’s imagine for one moment that you had to program our prehistoric ancestors to keep them safe. How are you going to design a human who can survive in a primitive environment where there are tigers, lions, wolves, and poisonous snakes and bugs? What could you build into the software of the primitive brain? How about FEAR?!
By being afraid of heights it would stop them falling off cliffs, fear of water would stop them drowning, fear of snakes & bugs would stop them being bitten and fear of open spaces (out in the open savannahs alone) or enclosed spaces (caves or burrows) would stop them being eaten by that sabre tooth tiger in areas that they would be in danger!! These fears would keep them safe in a ‘dog eat dog’ environment. However we still have the same fears in the modern world!
We are actually born with only two fears, the fear of loud noises & the fear of falling. Therefore it is believed that fears are learnt behaviours from family members/close friends as we grow up. This is why we find that people who have parents who have a fear of spiders usually develop a fear of spiders too. We can also learn to be fearful of a situation or items if something happens to us that we become frightened of it. For example if a child is walking along & a big dog comes running up to them as they are pleased to see them, but the dog is over excited & knocks them down. The child may miss read the situation & feel threatened & in danger. This could make the child fearful of not just that dog, but all dogs going forward.
Fear is not nice to deal with as it is highly emotive, it drives us away from something that is perceived will put us in danger. When you suffer with a fear it feels very real, however it helps to look at the actual facts instead of how you are feeling. It also helps to talk to someone who can help you see the situation differently. Think about your fears as prehistoric responses to a modern situation. What most people fear does not put us in danger. It’s like you are using outdated software in your brain. We do not need to be on high alert all of the time in our modern society!
Our fears can turn into a phobia. A phobia is similar to a fear with one key difference: the anxiety they experience is so much stronger. Also a phobia interferes with your quality of life and/or ability to function. So what can we do to deal with fears & phobias? The main thing is to acknowledge that the fear is not in proportion to the threat as we do not live in prehistoric times where what we fear is more than likely to kill us. Also our mind is trying to protect us, however it does too much of a good job & therefore instead of protecting us it causes us anxiety. A way of reducing your fear is to face the fear for short periods of time. This will help the unfamiliar fearful event becomes a more familiar event & eventually become easier to deal with. The more you do something, the more it becomes the norm & therefore not a threat.
However with a phobia, the emotion is an automatic reaction. Therefore looking at it in a logical way doesn’t always help. People think their phobia is strange & feel they are stupid to feel the way they do. However there are more than 8,000 different listed phobias in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Due to a phobia being an automatic response, hypnotherapy can help eliminate phobias & allow sufferers to live their lives normally when dealing with the situation or object that triggers the phobia. If you are suffering with a fear or phobia & would like to talk about how hypnotherapy can help you, please call me or arrange via email or my website a time convenient to you when I can call you to discuss your fear or phobia.