Anxiety & Panic Disorder is often accompanied by phobias or specialized fears. Just about anything can turn into a phobia. It’s very important to learn how to take charge of these because it’s not uncommon for them to multiply into other areas…Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht
Question: Lately I’ve noticed becoming fearful of many things. Some of them are new, but others seem to have intensified over the years. Some of them are really getting in my way such as driving on highways. Air travel has also become more difficult. A new one has to do with cleanliness in restaurants. I keep looking at the hands of people serving the food. I feel a compulsion to go into the kitchen and spot check the place. How does one stop these fearful reactions? JC
Answer: Would everyone reading this column who has experienced a phobia please raise their hand? I can see hands waving all over the internet! The question is, have phobias become more prevalent, or are people just owning up to them more often? Whatever the answer, the key lies in knowing how to manage them. Let me give you some direction about this. Most phobias are blown-out-of-proportion “fear files.”
While it is a fact that people preparing food can have dirty hands, planes crash and cars have accidents, your subconscious mind has bought these ideas forward, convincing your neurological system that you are in imminent danger. You have sparked off the fight or flight reaction. You are literally pouring stress chemicals into your body preparing you to meet the enemy. When no enemy comes forward, you are left with a body filled with them. If this negative experience is not reprogrammed in a positive frame, the next time you have the opportunity to play it again, the probability is that your negative reaction will be enhanced.
TOOL #1. Each time a thought arises having to do with one of these “fear files”, simply notice. Now take a grounding breath through the bottom of your feet. Let the breath sit in the lower abdominal area. This will automatically slow the stress chemical production. Take a few moments to observe your breath in this area. I like to have my clients place their hand there so they can feel it. When the breath is felt in the area of the chest, stress chemical production is higher.
TOOL #2 – Learn to observe the triggers for the irrational thought files. Once you get good at this you may notice the triggers coming way before the actual event and maybe not even having much to do with it. This is the way of the subconscious mind. It is important to learn how to monitor the mind activity and to direct it. If you do not learn to do this, it is rather like having a puppy running around who hasn’t been trained. Your mind activity can either help or hinder you. Once under stress, if not trained, the mind will automatically go to the negative fear files. It is a built-in safety, but one that works against the person in most instances.
TOOL #3. It is important to change or edit the old files having to do specifically with the phobia or fear. This can be accomplished with a mindbody tool called Interactive Self-Hypnosis. It is a form of imagery or visualization that has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years. In a nutshell, with your body in a very relaxed state, you go into the inner recording system and just like a movie producer/director or book editor, you re-write the script. It will then be filed in your subconscious library in the newly edited version. This means that the stress chemical codings will be changed. The next time the triggers present themselves, you will be ready to take that puppy out on a leash!.