What is the secret to overcoming fear? If you answered simply don’t be afraid then perhaps you’re not on the right track, but could ignoring be the key to conquering the things that scare us?
Is there a secret life hack that can help you move beyond your own limitations, without having to immerse yourself in a flooding exercise where you jump into a pit of snakes, or spend three hours staring over a ledge on a high building?
This article on the popular site gymlion explores the possibility that there is a secret methodology through which you can overcome fear. It takes on one of the most common fears exhibited by people, arachnophobia or the fear of spiders.
It has often been postulated that this fear is a result due to the sudden and erratic movements of a spider as sufferers will often be seen to be calmer when a spider is stationary, before erupting into screams when it moves.
When researchers examined the effects of mindset on the fear of spiders asked their subjects to perform one of three response. The first group were asked to perform no action on seeing the spider. When the second group saw a spider they were asked to remain calm and relaxed and the third group were simply asked to ignore it.
The goal of not getting frightened seemingly had no effect on fear, whilst ignoring the spider actually reduced the fear suffered by participants. Why does this occur?
A fearful response occurs within the first 100 milliseconds of seeing the spider. There simply isn’t time between the stimulus and the response to effectively modify behaviour. However you can reduce the fear by staying calm and relaxed in the first place and trying to block out the response mechanism by denial of the stimulus.
However in this experiment participants knew that they were going to be exposed to a spider so were allowed a degree of preparation. Real life is rarely so straight-forward and this is where graduated exposure can be extremely helpful as shown in the study, especially when combined with mindfulness and ACT.
For instance if you are phobic of dogs and you happen to encounter a stray dog then it is useful to remember that if you behave normally it will simply ignore you. Alternatively if you scream, panic or run away you will only attract the interest of the animal and reinforce your belief that the animal is intrinsically dangerous.
If you are suffering from fears that you would like to overcome that you feel are irrational or holding you back from experiencing a normal life then CBT could be a excellent therapy to assist you in developing new strategies and belief systems to cope with your own limiting life beliefs.
To find out more about how hypnotherapy could make a difference in your life why not book a free consultation session? This will give you a chance to explore the various options available to you and talk about the potential outcomes you would like to achieve from the therapy.