I support people in transforming fears, self-doubt, and feelings of low self-confidence or self-worth, into empowerment, more fully accepting themselves and recognizing their value so that they leap forward into their goals and dreams.
I support people in freeing themselves from limitations imposed by fear, eliminate phobias, overcome anxiety, quiet their worrying mind, and find peace amid chaos.
I support people getting “un-stuck”, breaking out of rigid, limiting, and self-destructive patterns to find direction and purpose for their lives. I work with them to uncover their courage, confidence and motivation to move forward and succeed.
Anxiety, Fear, Phobias
In essence, psychological literature distinguishes fears from phobias based primarily on severity of reactions and the degree of negative impact on one’s life. Fears are those responses to perceived threat that are within normal limits and have a limited effect on one’s functioning. Phobic reactions are those responses to perceived threats that greatly exceed the actual danger posed and cause significant distress on one’s functioning. This distinction works well within the framework of talk therapies, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. And great results are produced by these.
The distinction I am making below is more a difference in quality than severity, because process therapies, such as systematic desensitization (which is commonly used in conjunction with talk therapies) and different forms of hypnotherapy involve different approaches to fears and phobias. What may help one, may exacerbate the other. So, distinguishing between them is important, except that general relaxation techniques are helpful for both. Fear is an emotion of varying intensity aroused by a recognized and logical threat. A phobia is a type of fear that is uncontrollable, excessive, unrealistic and/or illogical, and is elicited by an object, situation, or activity. A general rule to follow is that, if it has a logical cause and started in childhood, this can indicate a fear. If it originated later in life and the primary cause is unknown, this may point to a phobia.
Most fears are established in childhood, barring traumatic events that may be experienced later. There are a number of reasons for this. As children, particularly before around ages 7-9, we are all highly suggestible. For our survival and early development, we need to be sponges to our environment, particularly our parents/caretakers. So, we readily absorb the sensory and experiential data from around us, and make conclusions about ourselves and the world based on this data. Unfortunately, these conclusions are formed well before our reasoning faculties have developed. These conclusions are formed before we’ve even really started to develop our capacity for logic and reason. Which, by the way, is at the crux of ALL of our core psychological issues, and why they often seem impervious to our conscious thinking and choices. Some of our childhood fears diminish or disappear as we grow up and have greater real-life experience, especially if an adult caretaker is aware of our fear and can rationally explain away the fear for the child. Although, like many of our issues, there may be secondary, unintended benefits which could keep the issue intact and ongoing until addressed and examined.
Unlike fears, phobias more commonly develop in adulthood. Childhood fears become the foundation for lifetime limiting beliefs, and we can usually identify their sources. Phobias, however, develop from a mostly unknown primary cause, and we are aware that phobic reactions are irrational and have no conscious onset. They are also associated with very common experiences. Phobias develop through association, rather than cause/effect. For example, a phobia of butterflies, which do not pose an actual threat or danger of harm to people, could have developed by just being present in the environment at a moment when we are extremely suggestible. Trauma that is recent or concurrent to the phobic even, such as abuse or bereavement, can cause extreme suggestibility, especially during a moment when our blood sugar levels are quite low, exacerbating symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Some Common Fears (sometimes phobias)
Loss of control
Whereas fears and phobias tend to have specific triggers and conditions, the experience of anxiety is more pervasive and general. Its causes are much more complex and usually deeply-rooted, so treatment of anxiety is also more complex and much longer.
Failure to Launch
A growing number of people are finding themselves in the position of graduating high school, college, or graduate school and feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, faced with looming, massive student debt, or even just daunted by the number of variables involved in making a career decision. Also contending with a difficult economy.
We are seeing increasing competition for college acceptance, increasing expectations of students (and parents) and from increasingly younger ages. These create more opportunity to feel overwhelmed, to feel like we don’t measure up, to feel like a failure.
There’s also the influence of our current culture of immediate gratification. When all of us have such easy access to so much, it can subtly create unconscious, sometimes conscious, expectation that we should get want with little effort. This is especially true for those of us young enough to have had the internet from our formative years. Tolerance for frustration is decreasing, while also having growing frustration that their efforts yield insufficient results. Especially since, within our internet/reality tv culture, there are some who experience overnight fame and money, sometimes for no legitimate reason and with little effort, or so it seems.
Some factors that affect one’s sense of security and certainty about the future:
- Shifts in technology
- Shifts in economy
- Shifts in the political climate, growing political unrest
- More frequent career changes within one’s lifetime, even simply transferring locations while in the same line of work.
- Rising divorce rates