They are called phobias. They are fears that trigger a reaction that far exceed the actual danger being faced. Small, harmless spiders, rodents or snakes can send grown adults running from a room. Introducing yourself to a stranger can make your palms sweat and your heart race. Speaking before a group, can leave you entirely voiceless.
I have faced down all of these fears and more, but one remains – Claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed places. This fear behaves in an entirely irrational manner. I remember clearly when claustrophobia first reared its warped head.
It was Christmas, and I was innocently shopping, weaving my way through a maze like display, when I realized I had now idea how to get out of the display and back to the open aisle. I barely had enough room to turn around, and as my pulse began to race, and my breathing became labored, I seriously considered breaking through the display to make my own shortest way, straight line way out. I called out to my husband, who recognized the panic in my voice, and came to my aid, getting me out of the display.
I had never had such anxiety before, and was surprised by the intensity of my panic. I assumed this would be a one time event, but I was very wrong. I quickly learned that any time I could not see around myself the panic began to set in, and since I am a little shorter than average, this can happen in crowds. Getting on an airplane is a special kind of hell, although once I am on the airplane I am fine.
Yes, I realize this is totally irrational. While my research says this is strictly an anxiety disorder, I hold out hope that there is some physical, perhaps inner ear issue that is at fault. Something changed, and now I have claustrophobia, but it can also go away.
There are some things I am doing, that anyone can do, to help conquer an irrational fear.
1. Don’t avoid situations because of your fears, or your life will get smaller.
2. Take slow, relaxing breaths when confronting your fears.
3. Focus on the things around you, experience them intensely, their feel, scent, and color.
4. Take care of yourself.
5. Maybe a professional can help: medications, someone to talk to, reassurance.
There are times my irrational fear seems to be totally gone. Other times my irrational fear unexpectedly pops up, but I am ready with a plan. I am not going to let something as totally irrational as a fear of not being able to see two feet past myself control my actions.
How have you beaten an irrational fear?