Nearly everyone has an irrational fear of something. Many fears, such as heights, spiders and snakes, have been hard-wired through evolution. Avoiding these things was good for survival. However, nowadays we also encounter modern phobias, such as, the fear of syringes and flying in an aeroplane.
It is quite difficult to empathise with a phobia. If we see someone getting phobic about something then we tend to wonder why they are making such a big fuss. We naturally think, “What’s wrong with you? Stop being so silly.” Because, at the end of the day, phobias are irrational fears. The anxiety is out of proportion to the feared object.
For more than twenty years I avoided flying. I knew that this fear was not normal and I could absolutely agree with everyone who tried to reassure me that ‘flying is the safest way to travel’. Such comments were well meant but, were in fact totally ineffective in helping me with the phobia. I continued to feel an absolute emotional dread of the thought of flying, and frequently had uninvited thoughts of being in a plane plummeting to the ground.
I am glad to say that I no longer avoid flying. I don’t enjoy it, but I don’t let it stop me. One of the biggest factors in my phobia treatment was the recognition that my problem was not about flying. It was about my thoughts about flying. And then it was about being prepared to face my fears and being willing to experience the discomfort of the fear.
Phobias are very treatable. However, many people don’t seek treatment, because they can avoid their fear without too much disruption to their life. But where the phobia is disruptive, then treatment is probably the best option.
For NHS funded therapy for stress, anxiety or depression, phone (01208) 871905 or register online [HERE]