Last week we were looking at phobias and what they are, from individual fears, to the extremes of severe social anxiety. These issues are embedded into our mind like habits, but they are in the deep fight or flight part of our minds. In the past we would have had many phobias, from the grizzly bears, to heights- the latter is actually a response were all born with. Years ago, it was great to have these fears as it kept us alive and made us the most over populated species on the planet. Now we’re not living in the same world we used to, that part of our mind which has throughout our whole history of us living on the planet been very busy keeping us alive has nothing much to do. This of course isn’t for everyone I think living in England for many of us we are super lucky and have a chance to live without having to live on the edge in the fight or flight mode. No worries over what might be around the corner, if we are going to be killed, experience a traumatic event or have to fight to survive. But, this is an issue for that part of our mind which has always lived on red alert, as children we have a fear of heights and loud noises, most children I know get over the fear of noise quite quickly! In the past after we started to grow into toddlers and children, we would have created more fears to put in its place, we are like a blank page in certain parts of our mind ready to develop what we need for each given life we have. If we all had the same preset programs of fear then we wouldn’t have survived as a species, from the different types of wild life, terrane and living environments our individual minds all change and adapt to the personal world we live in to survive.
As I said in the last blog Phobias it’s all about fear and avoidance, so moving forward we have to consider that the fear won’t just go away and if we are still avoiding things our minds will make it super hard to let it go. Our minds are just like a computer, it works in purely black and white it won’t work in grey, it’s not daft either and can’t be played. So, if were pretending that were not bothered then it won’t see it that way, it will just register that if your avoiding something it must be deadly and fearful, so it needs to send the fight or flight response to protect you. Let’s just look how amazing the fight and flight response truly is, I am sure most of you will have experienced some of these. You have been walking down a set of stairs that are new to you and you come to a step which is slightly taller than the rest and just in that split second your mind is expecting to put your foot on the step and it’s not there as its slightly deeper than the rest. You can feel that instant reaction your stomach may turn and a level of fear can be there too. Maybe it’s been a curb or something similar, but in that moment your mind has reacted, it’s constantly on red alert waiting for these moments. It’s always there to protect you and keep you safe to help you react quick enough to stay alive. You may have experienced this as well, you’re around a situation with balloons and you know that they are going to get popped, but you can still jump anyway when they do, even if someone says they are going to pop it your body can still react.
These reactions are instantaneous and out of our control, anything else we put in this same part of our minds will have this same level of response. That’s why for many people they have ended up with a phobia, because the fear is so uncomfortable all they want to do is avoid it or pretend they don’t want to do it anyway, which of course doesn’t wash with your mind it’s still avoidance. Avoidance just produces fear and the more fear we experience the more we avoid things and the bigger the fear grows.
Now it’s time to take those firsts steps to recovery, the best way to see this is like the analogy of having broken your leg. Where you’re at now, if you haven’t started to work in dealing with your phobia is in the same place as having broken your leg. It hurts, you feel disabled with it and you can’t move far or even fast. In your everyday life, you will feel it constantly and just can’t forget that it’s there and there is no level of distraction which is going to help you forget it either as you have this whacking great plaster on it to remind you it broken . The first step is to just accpet this, remove the veils of avoidance and admit to yourself how limiting living this way is. Start accepting the things we are pretending we don’t want to do and admit we are avoiding them because we are too afraid to do them. This is massive for our minds, if we haven’t been able to even think this way just making these changes shows our minds that we are starting the process of facing our fears. Over time we are sending these messages to our minds, that start the process of releasing the fear responses and enabling us to take the first steps in recovery. If we go back to the analogy of the broken leg this will be the beginning of the internal healing process of the leg, we still have all the external limitations but the pain in our leg will be starting to lessen.
Let’s look at a particular phobia to expand on this a bit, say if you have a severe spider phobia it won’t be just the spider that you avoid, it will be old houses, cupboards, sheds, underneath things, parts of the garden, cobwebs, programs on the TV with them on, pet spiders and toy spiders. There could be more things in the most extreme cases you could be not opening windows in the fear you may let them in, blocking up plug holes and pipes after use and not really going outside much. As you can see each phobia will have many parts to it and its important to start admitting to yourself what these are, to help you start the process of healing inside. Over the next couple of blogs, I will be helping you take the next steps and develop a plan of action to take steady steps forward. Remember you’re not going to run a marathon, your leg is broken but admitting to yourself where you are at and what you are doing will help the inner parts of your mind start the processes of healing.
Thanks for dropping by Sara x