Some things in life are scary, and it makes sense for people to be afraid of them. Fear is, in fact, a good thing in a lot of cases – it keeps us safe from harm because we know to step (or even run) away from particular situations that are not good for us.
Sometimes, however, that fear can become a problem, and when the fight or flight signals and hormones get confused, it can turn into a phobia which is described as an irrational fear. When your fears get out of control, then they can affect your life in a negative way, and this can be a huge problem. It can even mean that you are unable to leave the house or do things that you need to do or that you would enjoy just because you are too afraid.
The good news is that phobias can be overcome. Some are easier than others to banish, and it will depend on how deep-rooted they are, but here are some excellent tips to get you started.
Desensitization is the act of gradually introducing yourself to your phobia, and building up the time spent with the object you are afraid of or doing the thing you fear. You should immediately withdraw from the situation, no matter what it is, when your anxiety reaches uncomfortable levels, and it is best to carry out the desensitization with an expert present who can help you to do only what you need to do each time and no more.
Each time you get into the situation, push yourself a little further, stay a little longer, and over a period of time – there is no way of knowing how long it will take, of course – you will become desensitized to the issue and find that you are no longer afraid of it or, if you do still have a fear, it isn’t something that will have a hold over your life and it will be seriously diminished.
Know Your Options
Knowing what you are afraid of is one thing, and it can make you feel completely out of control and so scared that you are unable to function normally. However, knowing what your options are when confronted with the thing you are afraid of can help to mitigate your feelings and make you feel better about the situation. You could still be scared, but if you know what needs to be done, or what you could do if you have to, your fear will be lessened.
Motor vehicle accidents can be something that proves to be a phobia, and if that is the case, then those suffering will have difficulty getting into a car, which means they are limiting themselves in life. Knowing what to do in the case of an accident can help to calm them. The same is true of coming into contact with a snake or a spider, or of going to the beach when you’re afraid of the ocean. Knowing what to do, who to contact, how to react to the situation should it become dangerous will put you back in control and make you less afraid.
Try The Flooding Technique
Flooring is similar to desensitization in that you expose yourself to your fear. However, whereas desensitization is all about gradually building up your tolerance over time, flooding is, as the name suggests, more about completely immersing yourself in your fear fully and all at once. A germophobe might grab hold of all the door handles they can and hold onto them, for example. Someone afraid of heights might climb to the top of the tallest building around and stare down from the top without moving. Someone who hates crowds could do to the busiest shopping mall on the busiest day of the year and stand amongst the people.
Although seriously unpleasant, the idea behind this technique is that your brain will flood your body with hormones at first, but that this will stop happening once it learns that nothing bad is happening. You will start to feel calmer, and this newly learned behaviour will be easier to replicate in the future.
Remember, though, that flooding is an extremely difficult technique to do alone. It can induce panic attacks and make you feel entirely overwhelmed, so it is always best to have someone with you who can help you if need be.
Don’t Go It Alone
As mentioned above, having someone around to help you through your phobia can make all the difference. They may not even have to do anything or say anything; just their presence is what will ensure that you feel safe enough to try desensitization, flooding, or even just do something one time that otherwise, you would have missed out on.
Not only is there someone around who can support you and who you know you can ask to help you if need be, but they will also be able to talk to you afterward about how you were feeling and what was frightening about the situation because they were actually there. This can sometimes be more useful to those suffering from a phobia than someone who wasn’t involved in the situation, as it will feel as though they understand a lot better.
Find A Support Group
Talking about a problem is one of the best things you can do. It will force you to really think about the issue for one thing, and, if you join in with a support group, it will introduce you to people who are feeling the same as you which can be a rarity in your life otherwise. Having people around you who understand exactly what you are going through on all levels can be a wonderful thing, giving you support and freedom to talk about exactly what you are thinking and feeling in those situations.
Talking through problems can even be a way to solve them entirely. The more you are able to talk about an issue, the less of an issue it can seem, particularly if you are able to ‘workshop’ ideas on how to combat it with others who know exactly what you are talking about.