So let's discuss the topic of fear. There are many reasons for fear and we should probably start by making the distinction between healthy fear and unhealthy fear
What is healthy fear?
Healthy fear is something completely necessary, very natural and often very helpful.
Here’s a common example that you’ve probably experienced more than once…
Imagine that you’re at a dinner table and chatting with friends, everyone’s relaxed until suddenly a balloon pops. We immediately get that adrenaline rush, everyone jumps as the adrenaline surges through our system. Within the speed of light, we think “what the heck is that?” as we are jolted from the conversation, chit chatter or daydreaming. Our healthy fear response has successfully woken us up and into the present moment, out of any potential distractions and demanded that we assess our surroundings for any danger.
Alerting us to potential dangers
Within seconds we then pay attention and naturally assess the environment. Is it a tree falling down, or a gunshot? Are we in danger here or is this a false alarm? Was it just a balloon popping?
And it’s in this assessment that we take back control, we take back the power to respond accordingly and assert our physical response over our immediate circumstance. So healthy fear is perfectly normal and natural. It is the kind of natural response if we're crossing a busy road that we've never crossed before, we might experience some level of caution. This is a very healthy symptom of fear manifesting as caution or concern.
When we are cautious, we're assessing and conscious of the potential risks, but we also remain in control and respond accordingly. It would be unrealistic and irresponsible for us to just run across the road blindly. Sheer happiness and delight when there are all these cars whizzing past us at 40 miles an hour.
In summary, healthy fear is our friend in this journey.
Now, let's talk about the difference between healthy fear and unhealthy fear.
What is unhealthy fear?
Unhealthy fear is really quite the opposite. There are numerous symptoms of unhealthy fear such as worry, dread, panic and anxiety which are very unhelpful.
For example, if there was a wasp flying around us, this could prompt unhealthy fear (as well as a degree of healthy fear).
Imagine the scene - You’re at the park having a chat with friends in the sunshine and suddenly you hear the buzz of a wasp flying nearby. For most people, this would trigger some level of surprise and/or caution. Some people would remain alert and cautious and some might even move out of the way. Whilst others may settle down quickly, trusting in their estimate that it’s just doing its thing and poses no real threat.
Unhealthy fear would be anxiety and even blinded panic and being overwhelmed to the point where we lose control. Now, the moment we lose control, we lose judgment, we lose the ability to assess the environment, we are likely to respond in an uncontrolled manner. Naturally, this puts us in a very compromised position of danger. Such as running into people or onto the road, knocking things over and even spilling hot cups of tea.
We might forget where we were and start having a meltdown, kicking and flailing making us much more likely and prone to falling over. This kind of fear is an unhealthy response. When we think of unhealthy fear, we can actually survive our entire existence through life without the necessity of unhealthy fear.
Life without anxiety, dread and panic
So, anxiety, dread and panic are things that we can actually survive without. There are many people that can enjoy scenarios such as public speaking or their first job interview. These people can go through life without the dread, the anxiety, the sleepless nights and they can do absolutely just fine.
On the flip side of the coin, there are those who can't sleep at night because they're so anxious about the new opportunity that's about to arise. It’s really important to make the distinction between healthy fear and unhealthy fear.
We can also categorize healthy fear and unhealthy fear. You see, there are many people that can handle spiders or they can go on planes without any fear whatsoever. With complete, grounded, peaceful calmness. This tells us that if they are capable of this, so are you. You just need to find a way through the unhealthy fear - that's exactly what I've been helping people to do over many, many years.
Changing our relationship with fear
Working one to one, we can begin to change our relationship with fear from the inside, and it’s very different from exposure therapy. Exposure therapy has the intention of changing an internal feeling with an external experience. But the way that we work, our philosophy, is that if it's an internal response, surely we can just change the internal response from the inside first. Rather than all the stress and fear associated with having to “face your fear”... and once we've done that, once we finally release the emotion, the unhealthy fear ceases to exist.
Once we’ve released the fear and changed our perception of it, the symptom of the fear completely disappears and you can go along with your life without it ever returning again. It’s such a naturally powerful experience when you very quickly realize that I can live without this phobia. I don't need this phobia, this fear, to survive.
That's the thing with unhealthy fears, it's just a learned behaviour - I like to describe it as a protective strategy.
Children adopt different coping strategies with age
Now, if you've had a phobia ever since you were a child, children learn all sorts of ways of coping with things. Unfortunately, these are not always the best, most effective way of dealing with issues at the time.
You know, if we take a child, for example, if they don't get the chocolate bar in the shop, they begin to cry. Then they begin to scream at the top of their lungs, embarrassing their mother or father. They are not getting what they want and they kick up a storm. Well, they soon realize later in life, at varying ages, that crying, tantrums and all of that aggression, all of that anger isn't really helpful. A child-like meltdown doesn't really get the job done. If anything, it just reduces the likelihood of us being able to actually get what we want in life.
Have you outgrown your phobia?
If you're reading this - you're likely at the stage where you've outgrown your phobia.
(or else you wouldn't be questioning it) You've lived for so many years with this thing, but now you're at the stage of finally outgrowing it, where enough is enough and you're ready to live without it. That's the best place to be for us to actually help you change this with the help of the specialist phobia therapists on our team. We can help you achieve your goals, at your pace, in your own time.
Helping you to learn a new strategy in life, optimizing your response system and, as a result of that, liberating you from the symptoms of unhealthy fear. No anxiety, panic and phobias - it really is achievable.
Want to learn how we can help you eliminate your phobia for good?
We can do this without the stress of exposure therapy, coping strategies or tedious years of therapy. The most extreme and lifelong phobias have been eliminated with this method. You can find out more here: www.phobiatofreedom.com