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Last week we started to look at phobias and today we want to explore this in more detail. Many of us feel that our minds are controlling us and that it is our minds that have got this imbalance over what we fear. On a level this is true but we have to go back to the point when we didn’t have this and then start to understand that we have been drip-feeding our minds with our web of thoughts, avoidances and fears.  All phobias are based around the same principles but it’s easier to use one of them to give us a better understanding of what is happening and how much we have a part to play in this.  

Let’s take a look at a spider phobia, this is quite a common phobia but the web we weave over this can push our minds to the extremes of fear responses. I would imagine most of at one time or another have had a run-in with a spider, for some people it means they just don’t love them or don’t want to handle the big ones and this is quite normal for many people. Other people, on the other hand, go in search of them, have pet spiders and want to hold them in their hands, letting them just crawl around. Then we move into the people who have a phobia, these people can be on a small scale or up to an extreme level of response. On a lower level, if a spider has been seen the person will not be able to relax until the spider has been removed and the extreme of people’s responses will be that they can’t even go back into the room until it’s been located and removed.  Some people will only have an issue when they are of the bigger variety of spiders, whereas other people will be unable to deal with even a money spider. Then there are some people won’t go into the shed or the under stairs cupboard, whereas on the extreme, people won’t even go into old houses or even have any of their windows or doors left open in case a spider comes in. People may not be that bothered about watching them on tv whereas other people will avoid any programs with spiders on, the extreme people won’t even be able to see a cuddly spider toy. On the extreme levels, some people won’t leave their homes to even go out to hang the washing out in the garden and use cling film to block all plug holes and openings.

As you can see the levels of how this will impact will change greatly, the mild forms can be seen as liveable but the extreme cases it has become totally debilitating. What we have to understand from this is that we don’t go directly to the staying in our house with the doors and windows shut and pipes cling filmed over, we build-up to this level of avoidance. The more we avoid and try to stop coming into contact with the spider the bigger and more intense our fears will become. When dealing with any phobia this is the key thing we need to understand and this is how we send the messages of fear to negatively program our minds. We have built our way up often over years to get to this point and now its times to turn back this habit and so, in turn, start the process of letting go of our phobia.

A good place to start is to write down the areas in your life where you are avoiding things because of your fears, after this, it’s great to ask a family member or close friend to see if they know any more that you might have missed. Often these things have become so ingrained, that we are doing them without even realising. Our mind is great at forming habits, so many of them will be a habit and also maybe our family and friends have been attuned to our habits as well. Never ask mum to go to the shed, remember dad won’t go in the loft, don’t leave the window open as this might worry our daughter. This shows how unbeknown to our family and friends that they are also feeding our habits of avoidance and keep us spiral into great levels of fear. Our family and friends just see this as helping not hindering us and of course, we don’t want to make someone do anything that makes them anxious or scared. After a while, they are just like another normal ebb and flow that we have with the people we know, as over time we just get so used to everyone’s uniqueness.  Once you have the list now is the time to start moving back in the opposite direction, steady steps are the best way forward. If we do something too big then we will just push our fear levels up too high and then we can struggle to achieve it, also, more importantly, be unable to maintain it. Find the easiest ones first and work on letting that go from your avoidance list, continue with this until this feels comfortable and then choose another.  The more often we do this the easier it will be to start facing the things we fear and in turn reducing the anxiety that comes with them. Remember our minds are busy do lots of things so don’t just do one thing a month it won’t make much difference as it will just become too diluted to our minds if we can do a daily challenge this brings good changes. The more you do the more your mind desensitises the fears and the quicker this is put back into a place we can feel comfortable doing.

Next week we will look at other ways to explore reducing our phobic responses and continuing to reclaim our lives. Thanks for dropping by Sara x

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