Facing your Fears

Today I saw Fear Factor Live at Universal Studios in Florida. It’s based on a television show in America which is apparently very popular judging by the reaction of the audience this afternoon! Although the show is based around the idea of ‘facing your fears’, it is really just a few mad stunts that include being attached to a harness or eating live maggots (delightful isn’t it?!) The point is though that is got me thinking about fears, well fears and phobias to be exact!

I should probably start by differentiating between a fear and a phobia as the words are used interchangeably in everyday language. A fear is something that scares you, it causes some fancy chemical reaction in the brain (as I previously stated…biology is not my thing) that means you shy away from the situation involving the ‘thing’ that scares you. It becomes a phobia when it affects the way you live your life. This could be something as simple as avoiding going abroad because of a phobia of flying or something as debilitating as never leaving your house due to agoraphobia (fear of open spaces). A phobia is an anxiety disorder in the same way that panic disorder, anxiety and panic attacks are. The vast majority of you will have a fear of something (spiders probably!) but roughly 1 in 6 of you will also have a phobia of something. The good news is…all phobias can be cured!

Many of you will know that I used to be scared of dogs. I used to avoid going to parks in fear of a dog coming near me, I’d cross the road to stay out of the way of a dog and I would avoid houses with dogs as pets. I even distinctly remember sitting on the opposite side of a baby gate to a dog at my friend’s house for many hours! Looking back on it, this was probably a phobia but I didn’t know it at the time. I always hoped I wouldn’t be scared of dogs forever because nobody likes being scared but it was also very very annoying.

I’m no longer scared of dogs, I am actually a tad obsessed with them (well I say ‘them’, I really mean my dog). The way I got over my fear of dogs is a proven way of curing a phobia, however it wasn’t entirely my choice. My parents got a dog, so I had to live with it. The way I got over my phobia is called ‘exposure’. I’m pretty sure you can all guess exactly what this is; but in simple terms it is putting yourself in the situation you don’t want to be in! There isn’t much more of this story to tell apart from that 2 years ago I wouldn’t go near a dog and now I’ll lie on the floor next to one and let it climb all over me.

My life is definitely a lot easier now that I’ve got over my fear of dogs. I can go wherever I like outside without being scared and I make far more money babysitting now that I can look after dogs too (got my priorities right!) I would encourage anybody who has a phobia of something, or even just a fear of something, to ‘face’ it because you’ll never regret it. However, I know that it can be a lot easier having a helping hand, or somebody to push you into it when you try to back out (which you will). So if any of you need help ‘facing your fears’, give me a bell and I’ll happily help!

This blog post isn’t a step by step guide on how to face your fears and that is purely because different things work for different people. You can type ‘face your fears’ into Google and there are a million self help books out there or wikihows on all of this and finding the right way for you is the most important step to kicking that fear out of your life. Personally I’m a ‘throw yourself into the deep end’ sort of person so writing down, analysing and taking small steps to facing my fears would never work but for you it might! Every fear is different, everybody will face them in a different way but everyone’s life will be easier without them.

1 thought on “Facing your Fears

  1. I can totally relate to you Kerry with the fear of dogs, our story of getting over them is slightly similar actually & just proves that exposure does infact work 🙂 x

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