Phobia. Claustrophobia, thanatosphobia, agorophobia,arachnophobia etc. Do you know of many people with a phobia? I have met quite a few and given therapy successfully to them to. However I have to assure you all that not all of your fears can be considered phobic. A phobia is an irrational, intense, persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, or people and it is beyond the control of the person. Many people mistake their fears for phobias.
Is there a need for fear? Fear is a natural defense mechanism in all of us that helps in our survival by preventing pain or the threat of danger . For example the fear of a tiger will prevent us from walking towards the tiger and risk getting mawed. Fear is a natural part of us and having fears is a very normal thing. We all have our qwerks; I used to fear really tight places due to my size( tight places were bearable but not comfortable) and eating bananas because I found worms in a banana I was eating when I was 6. However, even with the fears that I had, with a bit more caution, I could enter tight places and small rooms and I could ensure my bananas were always clean of worms. A fear is just a warning system.
How does it become a phobia then? Well to put it in another way, our fear is like a little tiger cub inside our minds. Have you seen a tiger cub? It’s absolutely adorable. Its claws can still scratch you if you are not careful, but other than that it is absolutely cute and cuddly. Each time we get the emotion of fear from a thought or an impending event and we react to that emotion by giving in to it, it is the same as throwing a slice of meat to the little tiger cub and feeding it. When I mean giving into your fear it would be like how a person who is afraid of lizards enters a room with a lizard on the wall. That person’s mind would think: The lizard is going to get me. His choice of actions would be: 1) Ignore the thought, 2) Get out of the room quick! . Well choice number 2) would be giving into the fear. Fear grows on fear. Each time we feed our little tiger cub, it grows. And on one fine day the tiger cub will grow into a fierce tiger inside us. From this time on, each time we see the triggers for our fear, it’s like getting clawed by the huge tiger in our mind; We just breakdown.
How then do we deal with it? There are many ways to do it but in my opinion, the most permanent way is to starve the tiger. Stop feeding it. Let is starve and shrink back into the cute cuddly size that it once was. We all learn through positive experience. I know that a lizard will not harm me if I watch my tv. What can it do? Bite a chip off my fingernail? Nonsense. Accept the fact that our fear is irrational and gently ignore it. By starving our fears, they will gradually shrink. Each time you do not give into your fear and realize that nothing bad happens when you do, you are helping to rid yourself of the fear. Just take a deep breath, close your eyes and think happy thoughts!