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Fear Can Stop Good Things From Happening

Everybody is afraid of something. Fear is a natural human emotion that is designed to protect us. Most people have useful low-level fears that make them more alert when crossing a busy street or avoiding a dark alley in a bad neighborhood, but when fear affects our daily lives or is a fear of something necessary—like dentists, elevators, public speaking or flying—then it’s important to find help to address it.

“Fears and phobias are typically based on our past experiences,” explains Beverly Craddock, master hypnotist at Hawaii Hypnosis Center, in Honolulu. “We may have had a bad experience years ago, or a fear could come from a scary movie we saw as a child.”

Fears of the dentist can cause not just mouth problems but health problems if a person isn’t able to get proper dental care. A fear of flying can lead to social isolation from distant friends and family members, especially for people that live on an isolated island chain where air travel is the only method available. Even the fear of elevators or other enclosed spaces can be limiting in an urban high-rise and densely populated city like Honolulu.

Once a fear is established, it can be reinforced by the mind. One may be drawn to Internet stories of people’s negative experiences at the dentist or on flights. One may talk about the fear of spiders with friends that then share their own scary spider stories.

“When our subconscious mind is fearful, it will constantly be on the lookout for information that it believes will keep us safe,” Beverly says. “Aside from the constant reinforcement of a phobia, the initial fear is often planted by incomplete or incorrect information.”

Dental phobias are often based on people’s experiences decades ago when dental methods were far more basic. Modern dentistry is generally more attune to patient comfort and gentle techniques. A fear of flying is commonly based on a bumpy flight or even a bad personal event before the flight.

Sufferers of many of these fears and phobias often experience additional anxiety and even persistent sadness because they’re unable to overcome or defeat the fear. Even well-meaning friends or family members can perpetuate the problem by encouraging the person to “just get over it.”

“Fears are held within the subconscious mind,” Beverly adds. “So the fearful person is often unable to consciously overcome the fear any more than they could consciously overcome something like blinking or breathing.”

Hypnosis research, including a 1993 study by the American Psychological Association, has found that hypnosis can be effective in reducing or eliminating fear responses.

“It’s important to work with experienced hypnotists who have broad experience with more than just direct suggestion,” Beverly concludes. “Finding and resolving the source of the fear or using techniques to dampen the fear in the subconscious is critical to success.”

Randy Hampton is a writer, social scientist, hypnotist and blogger living in Honolulu.

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