How to overcome a phobia
A phobia feels exhausting, you spend your life constantly avoiding that thing, moulding your life around the one thing you absolutely cannot tolerate. You know that your behaviour is irrational, and you rationalise it out loud – to a point – then you remember the ‘but’. The extreme fear you feel comes about because your brain perceives that thing as a threat to your life.
Many things in life contain a small risk of death – heck life has only one certain outcome, which is death, so to some extent living at all is a threat. However, most of the time the threat to life is so minimal we negate it. A phobia occurs when your conscious or unconscious mind cannot negate the threat.
How to overcome fear
A fear is slightly less intense than a phobia. When you feel frightened of something but can tolerate it you have a fear. You’ll keep your eyes open for spiders and might build the courage to stamp on one as it scuttles across your living room floor. But you cannot pick it up, glass or no glass, and put it outside.
Whilst we all know the classic saying “feel the fear and do it anyway” many people use hypnotherapy to overcome a fear so they can do it anyway. Few hypnotherapists will claim they can help you enjoy the thing you fear but they can help you to manage the feeling and even better not think about it at all.
Let’s take needles as an example, I do not have a fear of needles. I can give blood easily, but I would not say I enjoy it. I just don’t think about it, it is something I do when I can because I believe it is a beneficial thing to do. Unlike an exciting day out, which is something I look forward to. The planning brings me joy as does the experience. When you use hypnosis to overcome a fear you might not look forward to or enjoy the experience, but you will do it with little thought.
Hypnosis is a particular state of mind in which you focus and heighten your senses. Many people feel a greater ability to visualise, remember and create. When you use hypnosis, you bring your mind and body out of the fight or flight response into an optimal daily state. Hypnosis with or without a therapist is a brilliant way to overcome fear. When you experience fear your brain moves into the fight or flight response. It primes your body to fight or flee.
Overcome fear with hypnosis
Anybody can use the hypnotic state of mind, the more you practise the easier and more natural it feels. Follow these steps to bring self-hypnosis into your life.
1. Make yourself comfortable
There is no specification for where you sit/stand/lay but everything is easier when you can rest easily. Switch off anything that could disturb you – including other people!
2. Close your eyes and focus internally
Sometimes this is not so easy, especially if there is a lot going on for you right now. Some people find that they can maintain concentration by focusing on their breathing. Others like to repeat a rhythmic phrase or sound. Sometimes I like to imagine myself walking down a staircase.
I count down in my head and whenever I notice my thoughts have drifted away from the staircase, I bring myself back to the top and start again. If you feel particularly imaginative you can create a wonderful inner world for yourself to reach at the bottom of the staircase.
3. Remember to use your senses
Notice what you can hear, smell and taste, real or imaginary. Try to see in your mind and feel the surface beneath your body. Stay here for as long feels right for you. Some people like to set a gentle alarm if they have a time limit. Otherwise, when the time is right for you, slowly begin to move your body, roll your shoulders, wriggle your fingers and toes, take some deep breaths, and open your eyes. Always give yourself a moment to reorient yourself before getting up.
If you wish, whilst you rest in this hypnotic state you can repeat some positive affirmations to yourself that relate to your fear. As you become more accustomed to self-hypnosis you will find that you can enter the same state of mind easily. Whenever you need to face your fear, you can use it to remain calm and in control. The more you do this the more your brain will recognise the thing you fear as safe.
How to get over a phobia
When a fear morphs into a phobia, your life revolves around avoiding that thing. There is no “feel the fear and do it anyway”. So, whilst the above self-hypnosis tools will help you when you fear your phobia, you will benefit from some sessions with a qualified hypnotherapist to truly overcome a phobia.
Your hypnotherapist will discuss your phobia with you and explore the origination of the problem. Sometimes when discussing how to overcome phobia with you the hypnotherapist will give you tools to manage the phobic feelings. With practise these will become techniques that you use without thinking, they will help you throughout life and as you conquer your phobia.
Your hypnotherapist will personalise your sessions and work out the best way to work for you. Sometimes this involves adapting the brain's perception of the phobia through visualisations and suggestions. Other times the hypnotherapist will use psychotherapeutic tools, exploring previous experiences and reframing them in your mind.
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