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Phobias are very common – as many as 1 in 10 people will be affected by a phobia at some point in their life.
If you think back to prehistoric times, the chances of coming face-to-face with a sabre-toothed tiger at some point in your life were pretty high. A situation like this would have instantly triggered a natural fear response, flooding your system with adrenaline and initiating the fight, flight or freeze response. Fighting a sabre-toothed tiger isn’t really a viable option (they have the superior advantage of big claws and teeth!), and freezing to the spot would end up with you being dinner as well, so the only rational thing to do in this case is run.
However, the probability of coming up against a sabre-toothed tiger in this day and age is (I think it’s fair to say) quite unlikely. And yet some of us still react with that fight, flight or freeze response when faced with something that actually doesn’t significantly threaten our safety. This is a phobia – an irrational fear of something that presents little or no danger and yet triggers a response that often includes intense and overwhelming feelings of panic, anxiety, terror and loss of control.
I have personal experience of a phobia – I struggled for many years with emetophobia (fear of anything to do with vomit) – so I know first-hand how restricting, frustrating and self-esteem-lowering it can be. Eventually, when I let it start limiting my life far too much, I sought help from a Cognitive Hypnotherapist friend and colleague of mine. I’m now 99% ok – although I occasionally get a little kick of panic in my stomach if I come across something to do with vomit unexpectedly I am now able to control it. Most importantly, I am now able to look after my three young daughters when they come down with the inevitable tummy bugs that do the rounds at their school and nursery, whereas before I could only stand helplessly aside whilst my partner dealt with it all.
Almost anything can act as a trigger for phobias: Animals (eg: spiders, snakes, frogs, dogs, fish, birds); heights; dentists; water; flying; claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), public speaking, injections… I’ve even come across people who are frightened of buttons, tomatoes and specific colours.
Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help you identify the root cause of the phobia (whether it’s a specific memory or a learned response passed down by parents for example), and works by helping you to change the unconscious response to the trigger that you’ve had up until now.
Of course there are many, many more phobias than those listed above, and if you are worried about something that isn’t there, please do contact me to discuss how I might be able to help you.