A phobia is a fear reaction to a stimulus that our brain perceives as a threat. Since people with a phobia often avoid putting themselves in threatening situations they might not even realise they have it.
Where do phobias come from?
If your brain associates an unthreatening object or a situation with danger it means that you were either taught to find certain stimuli bad or you experienced is as such.
For example, in the first scenario, your parents might have taught you to find something scary. If they were scared of spiders, chances are you were conditioned to think the same way because you witnessed them negatively react to spiders.
In the second scenario, your brain learns to link certain objects and situations with a negative response. For example, if you saw a spider when you were a child and got scared, encountering spiders might now generate a fear response.
Whichever way you acquired the phobia, your brain now tells you not to put yourself in the threatening situation again.
How do they make you feel?
While spiders might be the first thing that you associate with an irrational fear response, anything can become a phobia. Phobias often refer to being in a situation you feel you have no control over or aren’t familiar with. They’re also more common than you think.
For example, a lot of people experience fear during social interactions and might avoid them as a result. Even the thought of being in a threatening situation might make you feel anxious. Unfortunately, avoidance means you never learn how to act in a social context and miss out on connecting with people.
How to stop phobias?
The most effective way to deal with phobias is to work with a therapist. Therapy for phobia can help you understand how you react to a threatening situation, where your phobia comes from and how the fear is limiting you. An important part of healing is also learning that the situation or object itself isn’t dangerous. It’s just your brain telling you that they are. This might include gradual exposure to phobia. For example, you might start breaking the cycle by putting yourself in social situations and complimenting people or initiating a conversation. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel.
You can find out more about phobias in the video below: