Last week we took the first step forward at truly looking at our phobias, now that you’re more aware of the limitations which come with your fears, denial is easy to have and often hard to acknowledge and accept so do keep challenging yourself over this. Now you can see more clearly what you are avoiding it is time to change these life limiting patterns. The next step is to start to reduce the avoidance habits, this will start to send new messages to your mind that we don’t fear this anymore and in time it will help to let the fear go. Of course, this is not going to happen instantly, just like the broken leg analogy it will take time, remember at this stage your leg is still in plaster and you’re working to do the deeper healing first.
If you imagine you’re on a ladder and the next step is the next rung on the ladder, if it is too close you’re not really stepping anywhere and with it being so close your feet can get tangled as you’re trying to move to that next step. Or maybe the next rung on the ladder is way too high and you can’t get there to even put your foot on it let alone step up on it. As you can see with both of these analogies it’s important that your honest with yourself and don’t try to do too little or too much. For the latter it’s easier to see, you will just know the step seems to big and you can’t reach it, you will feel the fear and stay frozen on the step you’re already on. With the too small a step, this is when you’re putting things of still and the avoidant fear is building up, which will make your journey to recovery painful and slow. Let’s be honest no one wants to feel fear, so it can be an automatic response to not move forward, but if you have a phobia you already feel that fear or limitation every day. If you stay as you are you will only continue to feel the fear if you start to take your next step to change you may still feel some fear but it’s changing fear, not static everlasting fear and over time it will get easier.
Let’s look at a particular phobia as this will help you see the next step for you, everyone is different and it’s important to work at your own pace, you can’t run before you can walk. Here’s a common phobia, the fear of being sick, now if you don’t have this phobia you might be thinking this won’t have much of an impact on your life, because for most of us after moving on from childhood we are very rarely sick. But you will be wrong, as sick phobias can be very limiting and for some people this can start to take over your live with many avoidant areas.
Here are just some of the things that you could be avoiding with this phobia, people with sick bugs, doctor’s surgery’s and hospitals, schools, excess alcohol (maybe not so bad an avoidance!), certain types of food, certain restaurants, fair rides, other types of travel, hearing about people on Facebook who are ill, the news taking about a bout of norovirus, and touching handles on doors. As you can see there are lots of different avoidant areas and taking that next step will be to identify an area and start to stop the process of avoidance. With all of these avoidances there will be lots of asking and reassuring going on, reduce asking and checking, this will be the first steps to change. Say if you’re a mum with a sickness phobia, then a good first step would be to stop asking the other mums or teachers who off ill today at school or nursery and to stop looking on the school website for updates on to sickness bug outbreaks. All this constant checking and asking will produce lots of anxiety and fear, in turn increasing your phobic responses. Do remember though you started this as a comfort blanket so in the beginning it felt like a great thing to do. If you had asked and found out that no one is your sons class was off, then you could feel a sense of relief. This feeling is short lived though, as you do truly know this could change in a second and this is what makes you search for more ways to check that no children in your child’s class is ill. Here comes, the school websites! Social media screening for any comment on a child having a bug. But after a while this comfort blanket stops comforting us and starts to smother us, if is at this point then it can have become too fearful to even look. If this is the case you have taken the next negative step towards fear and now you can’t even face looking and skip read though other parents feeds, feeling on edge, fearing that you may just catch a glimpse of the word sick bug or virus.
As you can see every phobia even the ones on first glance might seem not to complex, can create a web of avoidances and negative learnt patterns. At this point, how much is it about the actual fear of being sick or is it just a mesh of fears that come with these bad habits and avoidances? I think the latter and in my experience, the more habits of avoidance you have the bigger your phobia will be. Taking the next step in reducing and removing your habits will of course help your fears reduce. Do try your best to not feed or comfort yourself but of course be honest with yourself too you will not be able to let them all go in one go if this was the case you would have done this already and got back to normal. Target one area and get that better first don’t do too much at once and of course be kind to yourself.
Often when we have developed a phobia we will have lost a lot of confidence too and for many people blame themselves over being in this place. We know on one level it is clearly irrational and its not a life or death response, but it hasn’t been stored in that part of your mind. It’s been placed in that fight, flight or freeze part of your mind which is not a rational part, it’s more like a computer programme. So, don’t feel it’s your fault it’s just an unfortunate set of events that have lead you to this point, being tough on yourself won’t help. In fact, blaming yourself and putting yourself down will just make it worse, I have worked with thousands and thousands of people, stay strong don’t give up hope, you’re not on your own.
Over the next few weeks we will look at changing your mind set and continuing to work on letting go of your fears and phobias.
Be good to yourself …. Thanks for dropping by Sara x