And Stop Letting Them Hold You Back...
Fears and phobias, oh my… We all have at least one thing that scares the crap out of us. There’s the typical fears like the dentist, sharks, flying, heights, and public speaking, to the less common - like the fear of driving on motorways or bridges, the fear of vomiting, using a public toilet, crowds, birds and clowns. Our fears can become so all-consuming that they rule our lives and how we live it.
To understand phobias, I think it’s important to understand the basics of the conscious and subconscious minds. You have a conscious mind that can think freely and create new ideas. Then there’s the subconscious mind, which is a super computer loaded with an operating system with programs for our behaviors and responses, and it’s in control, and on automatic pilot 95% of the time.
The subconscious mind records everything that happens to you and makes programs out those experiences. Your subconscious also controls your involuntary bodily functions, like your breathing, your heart beating, and your digestion just to name a few.
The subconscious mind does not move outside of its fixed programs. It reacts automatically to situations with its recorded behavior responses and it works without the control or knowledge of the conscious mind. This is why we tend to behave without thinking and respond in ways we consciously don’t want to.
So, when you have a negative experience and experience fear or trauma, your subconscious creates a program to avoid that situation at all costs. It will trigger your nervous system into the flight/or flight response as a way to keep you safe.
When your mind perceives a threat, it sends signals which stimulate your whole body to get ready for either a fight or to run away (flight). It then triggers the adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, to pour out steroids, stress hormones: cortisol and adrenaline and hundreds of other chemicals to fuel the body to give it more energy to fight or run away.
This chemical response is like injecting three shots of espresso straight into your bloodstream and the logical part of your mind shuts down waking up the more primitive reptilian part of your brain that only cares about surviva
The question is: how do we overcome our fears, so they don’t ruin our life or hold us back?
My favourite technique to get rid of phobias and irrational fears – is a NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming) technique called The Rewind Technique or the Fast Phobia Cure. I first came across this technique when I was training in NLP. The instructor told us he could get rid of any phobia within 10 minutes and I laughed out loud. I had a terrible fear of driving on a one-lane winding road after having a head-on car accident with a truck, both of us going around 80kms/hr. I was severely injured and had to learn to walk again.
As I sat in this class listening to this man tell us he could get rid of any phobia in just a few minutes, I was skeptical, to say the least. My phobia was so bad, I had to take valium if I needed to be driven on any road that was the slightest bit rural and I would still have a panic attack even with the anti-anxiety drugs. I announced to the class that there is no way that was possible in my case, as my phobia was so severe.
He laughed and said, “Perfect guinea pig, come on up.” He asked me on a scale of 1-10, one being I am completely calm about driving on a winding road and ten being I would feel like I was dying if I had to do it. I was at a 7-8 when I thought about it. He explained to me that my subconscious mind recorded everything that happened and created playlists and programs out of them. So, every time I even thought of driving on a winding road, my subconscious would remember my accident and play every memory of it when I felt anxious in the car in a millisecond, and this would trigger a flight or fight response.
Then he had me close my eyes, imagine a screen in front of me and told me to see whatever memories were linked to my anxiety around driving like an old home movie. At the same time to also imagine that there are monkeys, clowns and cartoon characters dancing around, superimposed over the memories, while circus music played in the background making the memories as silly, and as ridiculous as possible.
He had me rewind and fast forward the memories, making the memories blurry and scrambled. He then had me watch the screen float off in the distance until it was a tiny little speck, then watch it explode into a million little pieces and then blow away in the wind. This visualisation is like putting a scratch in the record or corrupting the program that it was unsafe for me to drive on roads similar to the one I had my accident on. By corrupting these memories, it would make it hard for my mind to have the negative associations with driving.
Afterwards, he asked me again how I felt about driving on winding roads, I said fine, but I’m not on one at the moment, so I can’t tell if it worked (I was a terrible example for him), but it felt like a 1 or 2 now.
To my surprise, a few weeks later, I was with a friend who had to drop something off, and she started driving on the very road I had my accident on, and to my utter shock, I was fine, completely neutral. I remember thinking to myself, oh yeah, I used to get anxious when on any roads like this. Just a silly visualisation and my fear was gone!
I was blown away and have now used this technique to erase my paralysing fear of public speaking, flying, driving, praying mantis’s (long story). I have also used it with thousands of clients, and it still amazes me with how quickly and effectively it works. This technique has changed my life, and I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't come across it.
We all have old programs our subconscious mind has created to keep us safe, but in fact, are holding us back which needs updating. Imagine how well your phone or computer would work if you had never updated the software? And how much happier you would be without fear holding you back? Just like our devices need updating, so do our minds.
If you are interested in clearing your fears and phobias with this technique, I recommend going to a hypnotherapist who has trained in NLP and The Rewind Technique since you want someone experienced to guide through you through any trauma.