Puffing and panting, I climbed the 240 steps to the top of the church tower. It was dark and poorly lit, with each step taking me higher and higher to my impending near-death experience!
There were 50 of us from school, out on a day trip, to the main C of E church in Grantham. I remember it so vividly, it was a boiling hot day in summer, like the ones you used to get only once in a blue moon!
“The view up here is brilliant”, so said our Religious Education teacher. “None like it in most of Lincolnshire!”. The school bus arrived at 1pm and we were directed, or should that be shepherded in, to the bottom of the church tower!
I was always a very sporty kind of boy and loved football and athletics and climbing trees! Somehow I never thought twice about how high I was off the ground. When you are that age, I was 13 at the time, you tend to think you are invincible!
Like most teenage boys there is always a type of bravado, or showing off, as to how strong or clever you are or how devious you could be! So there we were, 50 very noisy and sweaty boys, climbing up those stairs as fast as we could to see who could claim the best spot!
I finally got to the top, there was a very narrow walkway, all around the tower, of about 4 foot width. So as soon as you got out of the stairs it was straight out onto the ledge that overlooked the 100 foot drop and gave the best views!
That’s when one of the boys, who loved showing off, grabbed my arm and pulled me straight to the edge, as if he was going to let me fall!! At that instant my head started to spin, and I was grabbed back and everyone had a great laugh!! All that was except me!! That was the moment my fear of heights was born!!
Now I help people extinguish their fears and phobias, in my work as a Transformational hypnotherapist. You see I wasn’t born with Acrophobia (Fear of Heights), not ‘Vertigo’ as many think, but it was fashioned out of experiences that happened to me!
So if that was a learned experience, then in reality it could be un-learned! A critical way of thinking when dealing with phobias!
So What Is a Phobia?
Phobias are irrational fears of an activity, situation, or thing. The fear is so bad it limits a person’s activities and life. Many people with phobias will go out of their way to avoid the things they fear.
According to a recent research company YouGov, heights are Britain’s biggest fear, its most common phobia. Nearly a quarter of the population is reportedly “very afraid” of being up high, while a further 35% are “a little afraid”.
Of course there are several others phobias, such as Arachnophobia (Fear of Spiders), Agoraphobia (Fear of Crowds/Being Outside) and Glossophobia (Fear of Public Speaking), to name but a few!
Symptoms of phobias often involve having a panic attack — in that they include feelings of intense fear, dread, or terror, despite understanding that those feelings are out of proportion to any real threat! In addition there are also physical symptoms like tremors, sweating, “mind going blank,” nausea, rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing!
Help Is At Hand!
Phobias lend themselves very well to the use of hypnotherapy, amongst several other options! I often use the process of age regressing patients, to experiences immediately before they began to feel anxious.
In this way the sequence of reactions can be studied by the individual. This helps in pinpointing the situations that elicit anxiety as well as the internal dialogue and imagery that evoke problematic responses. So in this way getting to the heart of the phobia.
I frequently use, and find very effective, a Neurolinguistic or (NLP) procedure called Systematic Desensitization. This is where, under hypnosis, the individual learns to gain a sense of internal control over the fearful or anxiety-producing trigger.
There are many advantages of this procedure, which include the ability to enhance various scene visualizations and the ability to give posthypnotic suggestions, to encourage different responses to the situations that were imagined.
Although there are literally hundreds of phobias, they all have one thing in common, they all begin in the mind! So if they begin in the mind, then they can be changed in the mind too!
I extinguished my fears many years ago and now enjoy life without restrictions! The view from on high now looks marvellous and breath taking!