Face Your Fears
It’s that time of year again, the nights are drawing in, Strictly is back on TV and the shops are full of oversized pumpkins and ghoulish masks.
As a species we have a fascination with fear, finding the adrenaline fuelled rush of terror from a horror film strangely thrilling; we can’t bear to look, but neither can we look away! Perhaps this love/hate relationship exists because fear is the most primitive of emotions, hard wired into our physiology and underpinning all of our negative feelings.
Fear is a basic survival mechanism triggered by a threat, real or imaginary. If the brain ‘perceives’ a threat, a chemical reaction occurs triggering rapid heartbeat, dry mouth and the overwhelming desire to run (fight or flight.) If you have ever experienced a panic attack you will know exactly how unpleasant this feels.
Although fear has kept us alive for millennia, it has been responsible for a huge range of anxieties and phobias. Babies are born with only two inherent fears: loud noises and falling. All the rest are learnt, and unlike Algebra, fear is a lesson we don’t easily forget. Burn your fingers once and you’ll always remember that fire hurts!
In evolutionary terms this ‘one trial learning’ makes sense. However, in our stress filled world, this tendency to perceive a threat where none exists can lead to problems. A child nipped by a poodle may develop a fear of dogs. The child then avoids all dogs, giving rise to a phobia. The brain, ever quick to match one scary hairy animal with another, may soon classify cats under the “scary animals” category and soon, that child is avoiding all animals. Fear breeds fear, and avoidance means that fears remain unchallenged.
Often, the most effective way to overcome fear is to face it. Easier said than done when that fear renders you immobilised with terror!
If you suffer from a phobia, you may know your fears are irrational, but that phobic reaction becomes so deeply embedded inside your subconscious that even the bravest amongst us can’t confront them without a little help. That’s when hypnotherapy can be the perfect tool to use.
In hypnosis an unpleasant memory can be manipulated using the rewind technique (fast phobia cure) rendering the initial incident that triggered the phobia non-threatening, thus eradicating the phobia. Using systematic desensitisation, clients are guided through a series of imagined scenarios, gradually exposing them to the object of their fear. Because this exposure therapy takes place in trance, they remain safe and relaxed at all times. As your brain doesn’t differentiate from what you imagine and what is actually happening, the phobic response will rapidly become extinguished. It’s impossible to be relaxed and terrified at the same time, and as quickly as your brain learnt to be fearful it can learn to be comfortable.
So this Halloween, why not try facing your fears instead of avoiding them? Don’t be afraid to try something new.
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