‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.’
H. P. Lovecraft
I didn’t know much about phobias until very recently. I knew that my mum has one (the Sssss-word) and I knew a couple of others of old who were/are sufferers (banana skins and balloons, respectively). I once went to a phobia-themed party, where I dressed as a spider (yes, I know, original – but I did make myself 8 legs) and discovered there were phobias I didn’t even know existed, telephonophobia among them. I’ve lately learnt a little more about phobias because a friend who used to have a phobia of spiders, to the point of passing out upon seeing one, told me the story of how she overcame it and explained to me the difference between phobias and fears.
A fear is one thing. A phobia is another. Anyone can look this up for themselves (thanks Google) and also find out how many people do not seek to conquer their condition. Some think it’s not a ‘real’ problem and aren’t that bothered by it day-to-day; some think that it’s not treatable or not worth the treatment; and others feel that it’s an embarrassment, not an ailment. Some don’t believe that conquering their phobia is possible. The same can be said about life’s fears. It is easy to coast along in life, driven by our desires and avoiding where possible our fears – letting both rule us. Where this is most damaging is where we let a fear of failure hold us back from trying, where we let a fear of falling hold us down, stopping us from scaling the dizzying heights of success that are possible if we believe they are – if we’d just try and reach for them.
I used to have a fear of freedom, while desiring it desperately at the same time. It’s so easy to coast along, avoiding the uncertainty that freedom offers. If you free yourself from your fears, however, you can take with both hands everything life has to offer. And you can really enjoy it. I overcame my fear of freedom by shedding the comfort of my constraints and embracing what is possible in the present. If you live for the happiness and the goodness of now, there’s no need to fear the future.
My friend overcame her phobia of spiders by visiting a hypnotherapist, investigating the root of her environmental fear conditioning and coming to terms with it. My questions this week (and do feel free to answer them – comment or contact me!): What do you fear? Why? No, really – why? And what can you do to conquer it? This doesn’t count for cockroaches, by the way – terrifying devil-creatures. I see one, I’m running.