What is Fear? And How Does Hypnotherapy Treat Fears and Phobias?
There are few human beings without experience of fear. It’s an instinct we’re born with and there to keep us alive. There are two sides to fear, the instinct and the human, conscious worry. Although they feel very different, they both trigger the same activity in your body. The question is can you eliminate your fear?
Your brain contains a small almond shaped collection of nuclei called the amygdala, which act (as well as other things) as an alarm system. When your amygdala senses a threat to your life, it sets off the process designed to keep you alive. Your brain detects whether you need to fight the threat, run away from the threat or freeze to hide from the threat.
Your body diverts blood towards your major muscle groups, and away from those not needed, like your digestive system and extremities. You may sweat to avoid overheating, and the result of blood directing away from your digestive system may cause you to need to urinate. Tension builds in your big muscles, and trembling may occur in your smaller muscle groups. Your pupils dilate to increase focus and long vision, which makes it harder to see outside the tunnel vision created. The increase in oxygen in your body can cause feelings of dizziness. You might worry you’re going to faint, but this is nearly impossible, because the fear response causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and fainting is caused by a drop in blood pressure.
You’re born with the instinctual fears of falling and loud sounds. Some experts believe humans also have innate fears triggered by pain, fast approaching objects, snakes, spiders and other predators. These fears kept your ancestors alive. Recent human living has made most of these threats less of a risk and eradicated much of the need for this fear response. However, there are rare times it is still necessary.
As evolution has not moved as fast as technology, your fear response remains as if you have a primal life. Other threats, such as financial worries or threats to your ego, have overtaken primitive threats. Threats that do not put your life at risk, but frighten many humans. Unfortunately, your amygdala doesn’t differentiate between a threat to your life and something a little uncomfortable. Therefore, it behaves in the same way when you feel nervous about delivering a presentation, as if you saw spear wielding tribesmen from the next village rush in to invade your space.
When your brain files something as a threat to your life, it will enter the fear response every time you encounter that thing. As the primitive part of your brain governs the newer human thinking brain, any attempt to rationalise the situation in the moment is unlikely to help. There is very little you can do about the fear response. It’s as natural as digesting your food or pumping the blood around your body. However, we can use the knowledge we have about the process to reinstate a calm, default state and premeditate fear so you take action before your body goes into the fear response. In time, you will eliminate your fear.
Hypnotherapy to Eliminate your Fear
Coach, Dr Karl Albrecht condensed recent human fears into five categories:
Extinction – Rather than interpreting dying as a fear of death, it is the fear of no longer being alive. Most people believe when we die, we will either feel nothing or a release. This is less scary than the thought of no longer being alive.
Mutilation – This is the thought of something or someone invading your body, or you losing any typical human functioning. A fear of needles often fits into this category, when the needle insertion feels too invasive and crosses your body boundary.
Loss of autonomy – A loss of autonomy feels trapping, you feel imprisoned or controlled by circumstances. Similar to, or for some people, the same as a feeling of claustrophobia physically or metaphorically.
Separation – Most humans fear rejection, because rejection from the tribe means vulnerability and greater risk of death. This category also includes a loss of connectedness, abandonment, fear of becoming unwanted, not respected or valued by anyone else.
Ego death – Ego death threatens the integrity of the self, it includes shame and humiliation.
When you break down your fear and slot it into the relevant category, it becomes easier to work with and therefore manage. You might even find that what once felt completely irrational and embarrassing makes perfect sense.
Your hypnotherapist will help you reframe the subject of your fear in your mind, so you can reset the filing cabinet of your mind, refiling the thing you fear into the safe section. Additionally, your hypnotherapist will give you coping skills so you can face your fear. Your brain is malleable, always adapting, relative to how you use it. By putting yourself in the face of your fear, going through the experience and coming out the other side unscathed, your brain will learn it is safe, and there is no need for the fear response in this situation.
Hypnotherapy Techniques to Eliminate your Fear
Your hypnotherapist will work with you to manage your fear response. For many people, the actual fear becomes secondary to a fear of the fear response and feeling out of control.
Hypnotherapy techniques will help you sit with the feelings of fear and continue regardless. This begins with a thorough understanding of the process, so you feel aware of what’s happening internally. You will practise techniques to stop the feelings from escalating. You’ll learn how to take control, but more importantly feel in control.
Hypnotherapy can help you eliminate your fear instantly. However, it’s more likely that you’ll find ways to manage the fear so you can conquer it. Within time, your brain will no longer perceive it as a threat to your life, and the fear will dissipate.
Read more about hypnotherapy for fears and phobias here.