PHOBIAS: How to 1) identify 2) understand the origins and 3) resolve phobias.

Feeling intense feelings of fear, dread and overwhelm around a person (boss, attractive people, successful people, audiences), place (planes, heights, lifts), animals/insects (dogs, spiders, wasps) or things that are not directly threatening is considered to be a phobic response.
We want to avoid the fear inducing situation and the idea of it is enough to make our stomach churn and the body to quiver.
We ‘know’ we can’t face it and don’t unless we absolutely have to (e.g travel for work, go to dentist, give a best-man speech, go to a crowded seminar).
And when we do confront the phobia we hate every minute of it, feel more scared than even and vow to avoid it at all costs in the future.
Yet, part of us wants to be done with it, we want to get over it, we want to get on. Usually this part doesn’t feel ‘strong’ enough and we revert back to dodging what we’re afraid of.
Sometimes we don’t know that there is something we can do to resolve phobias.
My hope is that this post informs and reassures that phobias can be sorted out – very often quickly and easily.


1) Direct fearful experience that was overwhelming…
If, for example, we were attacked and bit by a dog when we were younger and did not get the chance to de-brief the experience emotionally i.e get over it. It can result in us developing a phobic response to dogs that is reinforced by feeling fear and thinking fearful thoughts every time we see a dog.
By releasing the original fear and changing our thoughts, feelings and attitude towards dogs we will resolve these types of simple phobias.
2) Conditioned and learned response…
We pick up many of our beliefs from listening to and mirroring those around us. If our mother screamed and ran out of the room afraid of a spider then we can – through feeling her fear and mimicking her behaviour – develop a phobic response to spiders.
We can watch frightening movies (read scary books, watch a documentary etc) and be hypnotised into being fearful of the dark, people in masks, being alone, sharks and so on.
We learn thinking styles from our family and people around us. We can learn to think catastrophically – imagining in full HD drama what could go wrong. In this way we misuse our powerful imagination and frighten ourselves with our imagination.
We can learn to think negatively and powerlessly and develop a relationship to the object we’re afraid of in which we believe ourselves to be less than or smaller than it (in terms of our ability to remain calm around it).
We learn to listen to a negative voice in our head and internalise the fears of those around us.
Sorting out our true voice from our parents, teachers, authority figures etc and making choices about how we think and use our imagination can help hugely with this kind of phobic response.
Develop the habit of asking yourself “who’s voice is talking right now?” or “who does this feeing belong to?”. It’s very simple yet also very helpful. We begin to realise how little of our thinking is our own true thoughts.
By becoming aware we can make different choices of thoughts and therefore get different feelings. This small yet powerful question – constantly applied brings big results over time.
If you are afraid of flying (or whatever you are phobic of) play a fantasy in your mind of you happy, relaxed and at ease on the plane. Listen to a hypnotic visualisation of positive suggestions and entertain it going well for you.
We can retrain our thinking styles and improve the suggestions we give ourselves through thinking and imagining in better ways.
3) Symbol / trigger for fear associated to something else..
Sometimes we have had traumatic fearful experiences that we haven’t fully resolved. We may not even consciously remember them. Yet our minds can project the unresolved fear into a symbol and it then triggers the original fear. We aren’t normally aware that this is happening so it can seem odd to us that we feel phobic of certain things.
‘Sponges’ for example: I remember a client who as a young girl in the bathroom overheard a particularly violent row between her parents outside. She froze in fear and found herself staring at a bathroom sponge. Afterwards she developed a phobic response to being washed with sponges and never understood why or resolved it until the memory was worked through.
Many of the more complex phobias like social phobia (intense fear of being judged, being the centre of attention, looking foolish, making a mistake), fear of public speaking, commitment phobia etc fall into this category.
We have past hurtful experiences of being made fun of, being ridiculed, singled out and embarrassed, being put down, abandoned, betrayed and / or abused and these hurtful unresolved memories are triggered when we are in front of others (in the ‘firing’ line).
By releasing the blocked and unresolved hurt emotions and getting a chance to de-brief our painful experiences much of what we are phobic of can be resolved.
Doing emotional resolution work, facing our fears or looking at our hurt can seem daunting and most of us would prefer ‘not to go there’. We have a tendency to minimize the impact fear has on our lives ‘it’s not that bad that I can’t fly – I like staying in Ireland for holidays’, ‘I’m sure I’ll meet someone naturally – why put myself through dating’ and so on. It’s understandable that we’d be resistant to change work. However for many there comes a time when it really is important and necessary to do something about the phobia – the cost of managing the fear becomes too great. Please be reassured that it’s never as hard or as painful as we might expect and often it’s surprisingly enjoyable to be released from life long bondage to fears.
If a phobia is causing you undue distress it can become something you got over. Many hypnotic and NLP (neuro linguistic programming) processes help as does positive visualizations, EFT (emotional freedom technique), EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) & coherence psychotherapy.
I’m happy to discuss how phobias can be fully resolved.
You can reach me at 01 207 9615 or drop me a line to
Have a great week,

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