|Chapter 7 - Understanding Fear and Phobias|
When you read the preceding chapters of “Life, Love, Health and Happiness” you will understand that what this paradigm offers as the root cause of all fear, including the specific fears known as phobias, is the instinctual fear of non-survival, often stated or felt as anxiety about survival.
Phobia is a term for a specific, chronic and rigid fear, generally used by professionals in order to identify the condition and to treat it. The term has acquired popular use by the lay population when describing fear in a loose and general way, example “I can’t stand traffic, I get absolutely phobic.”
A phobia generally gets laid in, in an early age. It can be triggered by a traumatic event that remains in one’s psychic system without the process of healing, that is, the psycho/emotional discharge (release), support for such healing and/or the contradiction process of chronic distress patterns.
For example, suppose as a child you constantly heard from your elders “it is dangerous out there, careful you could get hurt.” Then upon leaving the house once you encountered a dangerous event, an assault or an accident, and afterwards were never listened to fully enough to get to the core of the fear, thus not allowing the sufficient discharge of the fear (the telling, the sweating and/or trembling, the tears or anger.
This discharge, fully allowed, would have detoxified the fear (“flight or fight”) chemistry internally triggered by the traumatic event. This detoxification would have eliminated the psycho/physiological matrix of the growing phobia (in this case, the fear of open spaces). Further sessions of supportive discharge would have eventually uncovered the resentment of the parents’ acting out and “dumping” the messages of fear on your young mind.
Another common way a phobia (or any distress pattern) can take hold of one’s system is through parental (or significant child caregiver) modeling. If mother or father, or both, chronically showed through their emotional states, attitudes and/or physical behaviors inordinate fear of something, an object or situation (e.g. a snake or other animal, a closed or open space, heights, the opposite sex, sex itself etc.) then their young one could unconsciously internalize the fear, the resentment and the distress pattern, to later operate as a phobia.
Some common phobias are: anthrophobia, the fear of people; agoraphobia, the fear of open places; claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed places; acrophobia, the fear of high places; hodophobia, the fear of travel; hypnophobia, the fear of sleep; zoophobia, the fear of animals. There are many other kinds of phobias (see your dictionary or thesaurus.
Phobias are, in fact, chronic distress patterns associated with specific fears.
There are several approaches of treating phobias, behavioral therapy, cognitive/behavioral therapy, gestalt therapy, analytic therapy and so on.
The paradigm discussed in this document “Life, Love, Health and Happiness” offers a way any person can employ his and her courage, intelligence and decisiveness to address and overcome fear and phobias.
A phobia can be confronted, reduced or eliminated in the same way any chronic distress pattern can through the process of acknowledgement, contradiction (which includes behavior) and psycho/emotional discharge (release) and natural detoxification.
In order to understand and use this process well it is necessary to read the first four chapters of ‘Life, Love, Health and Happiness” in the healing forum or articles of this site. Go back to the top of this article“ or articles” button or to the healing forum and click on the above cited article. Take your time reading. There is much to absorb and understand.
Overcoming The Fear
Why would one want to study the information here in order to heal the phobia when one can consult a professional therapist? First, it costs a lot of money. Secondly, by a little study and practice one can take charge of one’s own life and affairs instead of remaining the uninformed and dependent “patient.” The study can enable one to understand and solve a wide scope of issues one is confronted with. This is a strong step in recovering one’s power. Of course, ultimately if one still needs help with the condition one should consult a professional.
As an example, let’s use agoraphobia, the fear of open places.
Discontinue avoiding the fear. Acknowledge it by admitting “I’m afraid of going outside (or however you may put it)”
Identifying the distress:
Identify how it (open places) makes you truly feel: afraid, sad, angry, humiliated, embarrassed, self judgmental?
Underneath every chronic hurt (i.e. fear or phobia) is a message of invalidation. Identify the invalidation under that bad feeling: “This feeling (name the hurt feeling) makes me feel that (examples) I am not cared about...not lovable...not smart...not attractive...not good...not worthy...not as good as...not adequate or strong...(not what)?
Understand that you were created unconditionally worthy on all counts. It was only through conditioning, poor treatment and poor modeling by close adults that you were forced to internalize the bad effects of such hurtful treatment. This internalization actually starts prenatally. The invalidation is at the core of the conditioning.
Even in the case of real love and care from mother or father or both, we nonetheless internalize the patterns that they modeled. If the parent(s) were fearful (often modeled as chronic worry), or sad or helpless (often described as depression) or angry (hostile, resentful, etc), we would unconsciously internalize the distress. The pattern(s) get wired into our own neural system at a very young age, to then trouble our lives until we take steps to heal and eliminate the distress.
Contradicting the fear or phobic distress pattern
There are three effective ways of contradicting (disabling) the distress pattern: emotionally, intellectually and behaviorally.
The emotional contradiction
Letting out your true feelings and thoughts in an irrational and oppressive society is a powerful contradiction to the rules that state you must not do so or face ridicule, condemnation, punishment or ostracization.
Find someone you can trust to listen to you and pay unconditional attention to you. You may have to “train” such a person to give you such listening. (See the chapter “Lasting, Rewarding, Relationships” in this document).(/p>
If you can’t find such a person, become your own listener. Set up a recording device and talk into it then listen back. Or journal your thoughts, memories and feelings, then read it back aloud, over again and again. The emotional discharge will often follow.
In any case, tell the story of the fear: when did it start, what was the situation, how did it feel, what did you need to say (powerfully) to the person or thing causing the fear, when was an earlier time you felt the distress, when was the earliest time you remember being scared?
Let your words, tears, angers, resentments, trembling, sweat, laughter, yawns (releases physical tension) flow. Keep at it until such time you need to do some other necessary task. Set up another time for the discharge, and keep it faithfully.
If you have a listening partner, always turn around and give this precious person your listening for an equal amount of time (or set up another time for your partner if you must).
The intellectual contradiction :
The intellectual pathway is to construct a thoughtful and powerful word or phrase (“direction”) that refutes the invalidation. The more appropriate the direction the more it will bring up those old bad feelings to be discharged, released and detoxified (i.e. healed).
Suppose that the identifications of the bad feeling and the invalidation you made were, respectively, “I am afraid to go outside (of the open place)” and “This bad feeling makes me feel underneath that I am not strong, that I am weak.”
A possible direction that contradicts this invalidation is “I am inherently strong.” To give the phrase more “teeth” it might be, “I am inherently strong, how dare you (the conditioning person or source) make me believe that I am weak, how dare you dump your distress on me. I am strong.” When I use my own directions I often employ very rigorous phrases such as “I was not born to carry your crap.” Each of us is different, use your own language, but the more powerful you can make it the more effective the healing.
The more you consciously use the direction the more it will be refined until it hits the mark right on, powerfully and effectively.
The behavioral contradiction:
Think about the physical steps you need to make to achieve going outside: going to the door, opening the door, stepping a foot outside, bringing the other foot outside, walking away from the residence – going somewhere outside and staying out for a time.
Take the first step: go to the door. The fear symptoms will come up, heart pounding, shorter breathing, nausea, perhaps sweating and trembling.
Stop. Take a deep breath if you can, and start saying your direction, “I am inherently strong, how dare you make me feel I am not strong, that I am weak. How dare you dump your distress on me. I am strong.” Keep stating the phrase.
Let the feelings come up. Let the sweating and trembling, perhaps tears or anger (hot sweat and words), maybe even laughter come freely; don’t try to shut them down. They are detoxifying the old fear chemistry that has been held down in your system all this time. That fear chemistry has held the fear pattern in place all this time and has undermined your life.
Keep repeating the direction until you are more relaxed; relaxed enough to take the next step: opening the door.
The same process may ensue: the fear symptoms, the direction holding (statement), the discharge and releasing, the relaxing, the next step.
If at any step, the fear response gets too high to take the next step, go back to the previous step and stay with the direction and discharge. The more you hold the direction and the more you discharge the distress, more and more fresh thoughts will come up, more refinements of the direction towards greater power will ensue; more old memories of associated events will rise to your consciousness to be healed through the process.
keep trying the current step. Let the feelings rise, hold your direction and discharge the distress. Sooner or later you be able to take the next step.
Keep repeating the process. Be patient. The pattern is addictive, it wants to control you. It wants you to rationalize that this is not the right time, or that there’s nothing out there that’s worth your time, or that it really is too dangerous out there. The pattern wants you to run and dive under the covers, wants you to eat that extra quart of ice cream, take that shot of boos or heavier stuff. That pattern wants you to hate yourself and blame yourself (the echoing of what was done to you and how you were blamed).
With persistence you will overcome the fear and phobia and it’s distresses.
General contradiction direction:
It is intelligent and powerful of each one of us to eliminate any and all of the distress patterns we carry, through no fault of our own. The “mother” of all distress patterns is the very first one imposed on us in our earliest moments of life.
Generally this first pattern is one that said, in so many ways, that in some way we were not acceptable, not worthy of life and unconditional love. Such a message is tantamount to death to a very young one (even to many adults).
Let me offer you a general direction to hold every waking moment of your life. Practice it every moment that you are not occupied with a useful and/or necessary thought or task.
The intellectual contradiction.
“(In a proud voice, aloud or silent) I am inherently and naturally worthy of life, respect and real love. I don’t have to earn this. I am born with this in me. How dare anyone try to make me think or feel otherwise! I reject that attempt!”
The behavioral contradiction.
Speak in a strong and powerful register. The tension of chronic distress makes our voice weak, thin, shaky, harsh or otherwise unresonant, unrepresentative of our natural pride.
Stand and walk with a proud posture (think “proud” and it won’t feel like work) Wear a benign and contented expression on your face. Our face becomes the mask of our chronic distress – anger, fear, grief, powerlessness, loss of hope, etc – as we grow further in our adulthood (think “Yes, I am me,” and it won’t feel like work).
Think before you respond in word or action (in a true emergency, your intuition takes over and guides your actions). Our chronic patterns are like instinctive, knee-jerk, reactions which more often than not do not solve the problem, and make it worse. Take that moment to think about what would make the situation better (think “No-one’s dying here, I have all the time I need” and it won’t feel like work).
The emotional contradiction
Express your thoughts and feelings appropriately. Be strategic: in an unsafe situation, be diplomatic or get away from there (“excuse me, I need to use the restroom, or I just remembered, the gas is on” ought to do the trick).
In many or most cases however it is right to say “When this happens it makes me feel (whatever) and it makes me untrusting. What’s going on with you?” Later, “This is what I’d like from you (whatever).” Then, “what would you like from me? Keep the exchange going until things are better. (think,” I have a right to speak, so does the other” and it won’t feel like work) Notice, no harsh or blaming words are used, these just keep the conflict going.
When you are in a private and safe place have a full discharge session: what’s the hurt, what’s the feeling(s)? Let them out, yell, cuss, pound, cry, shake, sweat, tremble, laugh, yawn, whatever. Validate yourself.
You are too good, too smart, too human to let the ridiculous and painful distress patterns rule and ruin your precious life.
Re:Chapter 7 - Understanding Fear and Phobias
Sep 01 2010 21:57:17
Hello Continuum, forgive the long delay since your ost, I have been away a lot. Your thoughts and strategies are very useable, very clear, very workable, thoughtful and aware. Whe one finds a good listener, one should guide the listener to not interrup or offer opinions or interpretatons, wait for a a good moment of silence then ask if if s/he can offer a question. Non or bad listening is the common plague for almost all of us. Prohibition against listening is planted early in our lives by important ones not listeninhg, ridicule, threats etc.
Thank you for your important posting, and stay well, Jack Donner
Re:Chapter 7 - Understanding Fear and Phobias
Mar 14 2010 21:48:52
I would like to share the ways that I have located, that have worked for me, to correct the inconsistent conditioning. Hope they "Help"!
Search emotionally charged events from our past -look at them in a "Now" time frame of understanding", as a neutral observer.
Take back our personal perspective, by reestablishing our own opinions and feelings, about everything that we experience, feel or think. Which will then reintegrate, our rational intellect with our emotions, within reality.
Utilize thought or meditation on our first impressions and then on our own, thought out opinions and feelings, about all of life.
Reflect on how we feel and relate to everything, that we see going on around us and do, within our life.
Develop faith in the "Process of Life and Time".
Allow time for the "Process of Change" to happen.
Develop a realistic awareness of what is happening, by whom, where, why and how we personally feel about it all, right "Now".
Breathe and relax for stress relief and grounding.
Walk and breathe - stay in a "Now Time Frame" for practice.
Drink sufficient water.
Write down our understanding and feelings, about what has happened to us and talk about it with someone who can relate.
Do what works the easiest, fastest, most equitable way possible, for all involved and effected.
Keep our self grounded within a healthy body, by doing what we need to be doing, for our "Self, First"!
"Clarity" is "Understanding" - Which Leads Us To Healing!
The state of our "Self Expression", is the foundation of, "Our Own, Life". Which is supporting everything, a component of it "All". Unique and authentic self expression is, "Our Universal Birthright". Which is our responsibility, to the best of our ability - "To Know, Improve and Express". Should be the only reason, that any one of us, is here.
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