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16 February 2018, 13:01 | Updated: 12 July 2018, 13:58
We spoke to 'The Breakthrough Expert' Christopher Paul Jones to find out how to overcome your biggest fears.
We've all got things we're irrationally scared of with no seemingly good reason as to why.
While some phobias are more common, such as spiders and heights, others are more obscure and can see some people break out in a cold sweat at the site of a button or rubber gloves!
A recent YouGov poll of over 2,008 people has shed light on some of the things that give Brits sweaty palms.
Unsurprisingly, heights and snakes came top trumps, with public speaking coming in third place.
Some unusual fears on the list included clowns, while dogs were ranked the phobia people are least likely to have.
So where do these irrational fears come from and what's the best way to overcome them?
We spoke to Christopher Paul Jones, also know as The Breakthrough Expert, who has helped people overcome their fears, anxieties and phobias at his clinic in Harley Street London.
He claims that fear happens when the brain makes a strong association between a particular event in your life and danger. This strong emotional connection to a scary event can be helped through hynotherapy which helps tap into your subconcious and break this behavourial pattern.
People get phobias from a conditioned response (also known as Pavlova conditioning), where an event in the past becomes linked to danger in the mind. For example, at a young age being scared by an insect, going on a scary theme park ride, watching a movie with a plane crash, getting stuck while playing hide and seek and so on. If the experience is strong enough in that moment, it will create an association in the brain between the event and danger. In the future, when you think about doing the thing you are subconsciously referencing, that past event, this causes your brain to go into survival mode, warning you of the risk and informing you to avoid it. If somebody has a phobia they will often become nervous and sweaty just thinking about the experience and will often find any reason to avoid it.
I do many types of therapies integrated together. Hypnotherapy and similar tools are particularly useful because you can work directly with the subconscious mind. When you’re just talking about your phobia you are often using your conscious mind, which is the part that works on logic, however, emotions are not logical. Hypnotherapy allows you to tap directly into the subconscious, change those patterns and find the cause of the phobia that consciously you might not be aware of. This way you can change phobias and fears quickly and dramatically.
When you are fearful of something, your brain goes into primal survival mode, and in that moment the subconscious mind decides whether to fight or flight. Now, the mind's intention is to try and keep you safe, and if it cannot decide which is the best response then the body doesn’t know what to do and freezes, leaving you paralysed.
In order to have a phobia, you need go through a series of steps. You need to believe something about what you are phobic of, tell yourself something it mentally, form a picture in your mind and have certain feelings associated with it. You may even breathe differently. By changing these steps, you can change your experience.
One quick method is to imagine the Benny Hill theme tune or some other funny music playing as you think of your phobia, or if you have inner dialogue running, repeat what you are saying to yourself in a high-pitched voice like Mickey Mouse. Another thing you can do is scramble the negative images that you associate with the thing that is making you fearful. What would it be like if you made that image small? What would it be like if you made it black and white? Imagine running the whole event backwards like you’re rewinding a DVD or imagine the image as a tiny dot.
Another way of taking the emotional charge out of your fear or phobia is to create a positive trigger.
Step 1 Think of or imagine a time when you felt completely calm and relaxed, for example sitting on a beach or being around people you love.
Step 2 Imagine going back to that time and notice all the thoughts, feelings, sounds and images that go with this event. When you have fully connected to the positive aspects of the event, squeeze your fist to create a link between the emotion and the gesture, and as the emotion fades release your fist.
Step 3 Keep repeating this as many times as you like and then test it by squeezing your fist. Notice what you feel. If it’s strong enough, next time you think of your phobia just the act of squeezing your fist will bring back that calm feeling and reduce your fear.