An alternative view on phobias
By heatherferreiracole, Feb 21 2015 09:10AM
When I was little I went on a camping trip with my family, whilst I was there I befriended two little spiders. One particular day I was letting my new found pets run over my face (as you do) when I felt a tickle around my nose and one of the spiders disappeared. Panicking I ran to my Dad and told him that I thought a spider had gone up my nose and disappeared. My Dad, being my Dad, replied that he hoped it wasn’t a flesh-eating or brain-eating spider as they slowly eat away at you until you die...
Now you might think that that would be enough to give any child a phobia but this was my Dad and it was a standard retort to most questions. Let’s just say that if I’d got a phobia for every story he related to me like this one, I’d now be happily tucked up in an institution somewhere.
I believe that this was a moment in my life where I was ripe for the entrance of a phobia. As strange as that sounds I had reached a point where my system was maxed out with unacknowledged fears and unprocessed pain. I needed desperately to put all of these emotions somewhere, give them a name and find them an external home. So I created a basket in my subconscious called spiders and I flung everything in there that was uncomfortable, everything I was unable to look at due to emotional immaturity or simply because I was incapable of processing or dealing with it around that time. Life became infinitely easier. The basket was a safe haven for me to keep adding my fears and as the phobia had only started with a mere shudder at the sight of a spider it seemed quite a good payoff. I just had to keep away from garden sheds, cellars and lofts.
Unfortunately, the problem with creating a phobia basket like that is that
1. It is very hard to work out what went into the phobia basket in the first place, so it can be tricky to uninstall.
2.Becuase it was originally built as a temporary coping mechanism, the fear tends to get more out of control with age.
3. Nothing can be put into the subconscious without a subsequent external effect of that ilk.
So when I was 18 I went to hospital to have my wisdom teeth out. I was in the garden one-day chatting to a lady in a wheelchair and she told me a spider had bitten her and they just hadn't been able to stop the eroding flesh in time to guarantee she would ever walk again......
When I was 26 a friend of mine was in a London taxi and happened to be bitten by a spider and we watched as her flesh just slowly dissolved over a 5-week period.
I know these things happen, but what I am trying to get across is that somehow my phobia basket was leaking out into a very real external world. Why me?! When that just happened to be my phobia?! I had no idea that that was exactly the point. This was the interest payment for the loan of sanity.
My relationship with spiders was now pretty out of control, when pushed I could cry from the sheer overwhelm of the panic at being in the same room as a spider. It didn't however stop me from going travelling through Asia and to be fair the repeated exposure to enormous spiders forced me to face a lot of those fears, but 6 months to a year after coming back I was back where I started.
Alongside this external fear came the internal fear of recurring nightmares where I was stuck in a room full of large spiders. These nightmares tended only to arise during points of change or transition in my life where I was awash with unknowns.
Nowadays I consciously work on my internal world of feelings, as I believe a cleared system is a peaceful one. In my work on myself I have managed to downgrade spiders from a phobia to a preference.
So I was lying in bed the other day musing on an irrational belief I have become aware of lately and I delved down inside myself to find the root of that belief. Feelings of vulnerability, helplessness and injustice washed over me from when I was very young. And as they came up I found myself getting distracted about the thought of someone once telling me that spiders often crawl over your face at night whilst you sleep. Was there a spider in my bed? What was that moving on the wall? I started to become itchy and was in dire need to turn the light on to check the room, but knowing myself better now I recognized it as coming from my mind and instead I drifted off to sleep..........and fell into a nightmare about spiders instead.
I believe that this is my subconscious saying that I am delving into the basket and it isn’t a safe place to go. It is like a firewall that keeps my fears safely hidden, anytime I approach the basket, which is full of my unprocessed emotions (mainly from childhood), I have to face the firewall of self-created fears which is protecting my access to the true fears underneath. My subconscious doesn't know that it is now safe to face them and so it is still running the same old program I unconsciously set up many years ago.
Spiders are spiders and the irony is that it isn’t about spiders at all but actually about the firewall of my imagination created specifically to protect me from myself - which is really rather clever when you think about it. It provides me with a horrific and all consuming distraction from the real issues at hand that can take me off into a whole different direction from what I really need to be looking at. It is incredibly effective.
So next time your phobia or fears raise their head in your mind, your nightmares or in your external world, ask yourself why. What fearful feeling is your subconscious trying to steer your away from? What is so powerful in your life right now that your have banged up against the firewall?
You see when you get the hang of it, you can actually start to appreciate the presence of your fabricated fears and phobias because it means that you are on the edge of breaking down the barriers of your real and underlying limitations that keep you living a restricted life. It is, in fact, only when the phobia presents itself that you are on the precipice of really clearing the way to fulfilling your true potential.