What are phobias? Phobias are considered to be an extreme or irrational fear of someone or something. Phobias can yield a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety over a person that can possibly cause the person to simulate mental, emotional and in some cases a form of physical paralysis.
It can cause the individual to lose composure and control over their lives momentarily or even daily depending on how fearful they are over what they fear.
For some, it may be a fear of heights, fear of certain insects, animals or over a certain person. Often times, the fear can be triggered by a negative past experience that created a certain level of trauma.
A person can have a fear of a centipede or a spider due to the fact that they were bitten by one as a child or even by the imposing nature of how the insect looks. Therefore, any sighting of the insect elicits instant fear and the perception that danger is immediately imminent. The fight or flight response is kicked up to a thousand and behaviors can shift and change drastically. This may cause the individual to avoid certain environments where they encountered the person or thing, they fear which can help in some cases but can also hinder a person from experiencing the life they are missing out on because they have given all their power away to what they fear most.
In some cases, phobias can even cause a person to develop
physical ticks to make them feel as if they are doing
something that is helping them to feel better even when there is no threat.
A person who has a fear of spiders may develop a habit of shaking their legs or patting their arms even if no spider is on them or around them. Others may cringe at the sound of hearing the word spider. Some may also purposely avoid watching movies, documentaries or shows where their phobia is present. There are many different things to consider when addressing phobias as well as multiple layers to uncover. There is no one size fits all approach to dealing with the impact of phobias and depending on the person they may need different types of circumstances or adjustments made to combat the things they innately fear the most. Below is a list of a few ways to overcome phobias.
1) Educate yourself
We tend to fear what we don’t understand or are not knowledgeable about. Even if it may be difficult to do, reading about the things you fear in the form of books, articles or even watching videos about them can help you to better understand the nature of what you fear and possibly make you start to think differently about it.
2) Journaling reveals patterns you display
When you are experiencing phobias, journaling is imperative. When you can identify patterns within yourself and record the data it can better help you to identify things you can work on resolving your phobia.
3) Meditation & Breathing
Practicing mindfulness through meditations, guided imagery and learning how to control your breathing is essential. It can help you reduce anxiety and even lower blood pressure. Breathing is connected to self – control and even emotional regulation. How you shift your breathing at any given moment can change how you feel when anxiety starts to set in. By finding time to incorporate meditation/mindfulness into your daily life can help tremendously when faced with phobias.
4) Getting a visual
This can be a tough one as any form of exposure can create a paralysis or make you feel as if you are in suspended animation. Even if you cannot yet face what you fear in person, we have a wonderful tool called the internet! If your fear is of an insect or an object you can conduct a google search and expose yourself to your phobia. If this proves too difficult to do alone having a family member, friend or partner to help support you or be there as you are conquering this can help immensely. The more you expose yourself to the phobia the more your mind will adapt over time and even possibly make you feel desensitized to it.
5) Self – empowerment & affirmations
Too often in life, there are people who feed themselves negative affirmations. “I can’t do this” or “I’m failing at this” or “I’m not smart enough to do this.” This can become a pattern that will hinder and serve more as a detriment to the individual overtime. Introducing positive affirmations and positive self-talk can help you change how you feel about yourself in a given moment. For example, saying “I can do this” or “I will overcome this challenge or fear” will overtime help you to start to change your mentality. When you feel more positive and confident within yourself you will feel more likely to want to address your phobias.
6) Boldly go where you have avoided
There is an old saying I heard a long these lines, “sometimes you have to seek out your fears and look them right in the eye.” This can be frightening for some and even debilitating. Phobias are generally considered to be irrational fears. Most of the things we fear in reality most likely will never actually hurt us, but it is our perception of those things that makes us remain avoidant. If this phobia is pertaining to a bug or an object or something that elicits fear sometimes you may be surprised if you actually went into an environment where your fears exist. Take a family member, friend or partner with you if this is too much to do alone at first.
7) Be patient with yourself
You need to remain as patient as you can with this process. Don’t feel like you need to have some mastery over your phobia or anxiety within a short period of time. There is no instant gratification and expect to have a lot of uncomfortable moments with this process. One thing to never forget is why you started. Visualize your goals and do everything you can to attain them. Trying to rush through things can only make things worse. Take your time and remember to practice and educate yourself as much as possible.
8) Seek professional help for the phobia
You are feeling like this is something you will never be able to overcome and are tired of living in fear or feeling as if you don’t have control reach out to a local mental health provider. Going to therapy can help you to identify and work on things within yourself and teach you tools to help you confront and over time eliminate your phobias.