Fear – friend or foe?
We all have fears and this is good! Fear is what keeps us safe. Fear is what alerts us to danger. Fear is what motivates us to take action in order to avoid negative outcomes. Without fear we would be reckless, we would make poor decisions and we probably wouldn’t survive. Fear is not something that we should ever attempt to completely remove from our psyche.
For most of us, fear is something that should be experienced infrequently and in appropriate situations, in measured amounts. Most of us live in an environment in which we are generally safe from danger and not at risk, so therefore shouldn’t we all feel safe and secure most of the time? Sometimes though, our fears become over-exaggerated, inappropriate and instead of helping us they hinder us. In some cases our fear becomes acute anxiety and/or phobia.
When fear becomes a phobia
A fear phobia is a persistent, irrational and disabilitating fear of a specific thing or situation that compels the individual to avoid it despite the knowledge and reassurance that it offers no threat. Severe phobia can affect behaviour so that a phobic person might organise their life around avoiding the thing(s) they are afraid of.
Types of phobia
Phobias can generally be divided into two main categories: specific/simple or complex. Phobias that focus on particular objects, situation and activities are referred to as a ‘specific or simple’ phobia, for example phobia towards animals (spiders, snakes dogs), environmental conditions (small spaces, heights, bacteria), situations (flying, dental visits, public speaking), or body phobias (sight of blood, innoculations, vomiting).
Complex phobias are as the name suggests, more complex. Agoraphobia (fear of being in places that may be difficult to leave) and social phobia (fear of being in groups of people and/or social situations where one becomes the focus of attention) are examples of complex phobia.
Most phobias can be treated and hypnotherpay is very effective in this regard. Ironically, the very act of avoiding the thing that causes your fear and anxiety makes it worse! Facing your fears is the best way to overcome them as you literally teach your brain to stop being afraid. Each time you are exposed to something you fear without negative consequences it helps to dispel the belief that it represents a danger. However, it can be difficult to create an environment where you feel safe, able and willing to confront your fears and this is where hypnotherapy can be extremely useful.
Our brains make little, if any distinction between real and imagined experiences and so hypnotherapy is an excellent way of confronting your fear, whilst remaining in a calm and relaxed state. Hypnosis makes it possible to visualise a series of conditions that would normally create fear and anxiety. A trained hypnotherapist can help and support the individual until they learn to cope with each imagined scenario until eventually, they are able to cope with the most intense feeling of being anxious or afraid. This gradual process desensitises the client’s stress response and can either reduce their fear to a managable level or in some cases, eliminate it completely.
Fear can become friend and not foe.
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