Cited as "the fear of fears", phobophobia kind of goes hand in hand with the well worn phrase, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself". What is to fear about fear? ( I dare you to read this entire blog three times fast, LOL!) We all fear something, some of us many things, some of us have fears that cripple our everyday lives. What do you fear? What makes your heart drop into your throat, your heart pound faster, beads of sweat growing on your forehead?
My husband is the calmest, most even keeled person I have ever met. But put a scary movie on and he turns into a jumping, trembling, screaming, Scooby Doo like charicature of himself. I have friends who are afraid of spiders, heights, dogs, tooth brushes, you name it. But there is usually something that has happened in their past that has started these fears on their path to phobia. These fears are rational, based in fact and previous experience.
What about other fears? Such as fear of gaining weight, fear of failure, fear of judgement. There is no way to quantify these fears. These fears are life stopping, irrational and difficult to overcome. After all, we cannot control how other people percieve us, how they react to us, how our actions will be viewed.
My family went to Wonderland together for the first time last weekend. Upon hearing that he was tall enough to ride many of the highest rollercoasters, he proclaimed,"I want to ride The Bat!!" Did I mention that he is seven and normally very sensible? We took him to see it and he was still game. Deep breath, Mum, okay - go for it. So off he trots with my hubby. I watched his face, unsuspecting as to what was to come, as they raised his cart up to the top. As they dropped them into the first run, I could see what could only be described as pure, unadulterated terror. Umm, I felt like the worst Mum ever. How could I not have talked him out of this? He wasn't even tall enough to look over the seat in front of him. Major Mum fail, right there. As he tottered, dazed, off the ride, he had a mixture of terror and amazement on his little face. It didn't deter him from trying an array of other coasters and rides for the rest of day (although none quite that large again, thank goodness). But he walked onto that roller coaster, fresh faced and excited, not knowing what to expect. No fear.
I have lots of fears. Some rational (flying, roller coasters and Heffalumps) and some irrational. I fear people's judgement, I fear failure, I fear not being a great Mum (especially after the Bat debacle). I fear mostly for my children - and fear that they will grow up with the same fears as I have. I want them to be free of fear.
If I were to break down my fears, they are all about not being in control. After all, I would bungee jump, cliff dive, para sail, zip line, extreme bike etc.. not without fear, but with enthusiasm. But the thought of flying makes me break out in a cold sweat. I have no control over that. And rollercoasters? Can't stop or go when I want them to. Can't take that at my own pace. Can't blame myself if something bad happens. Judgement? Can't control what other people think of me. And I can't live my children's lives or make them happy and productive. So I reach a stalemate.
How to let go of fear? Take it step by step. Collect proof that what you imagine won't happen. Scared of starting an exercise regime? Start by making calls and meeting fitness pros. Then when you are comfortable, book a class or private session. Find a place where fear is easily put aside and you feel safe, then build from there.
As for me, I rode the Fly. It's no Behemuth, perhaps, but it's a step in the right direction. And none of my fears were realized. I am still living, I didn't fall out, have a heart attack, cry like a baby, or any other scenario that I dreamt up while in the line up with my family.