The 12 Thrive Days of Christmas -10- Fears and Phobias

A series of 12 brief articles, published daily from 25th December to 5th January (The traditional 12 days of Christmas). Today, Fears and Phobias

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What’s the difference?

The essential difference between fears and phobias is usually one of severity and the impact on a sufferer’s life.  Fears and Phobias are formed and maintained in the same way so it makes sense to talk jointly about them.

If you develop a phobia you have a huge external sense of power and control in relation to it.  You feel powerless when faced with your phobia despite really being able to overcome it quite easily.  Think about the common phobia of spiders – you know that they can’t hurt you but you remain scared!


fears and phobias-stress-Thrive


Who develops them, and where do they come from?

Well, firstly, anybody can.  You may think your problem started due to a scary experience, or you inherited it, but this is very frequently not true.

Sometimes fears and phobias stem from a traumatic experience but many are created entirely in your own imagination.

It is, after all, understandable that you are afraid of dogs if you were scared by one as a child.  Since the experience you have continually imagined it every time you have seen or heard a dog, increasing it’s power.

BUT what about phobias created solely in your imagination?  There are thousands of people who have a phobia around flying, and a huge percentage of them have never been near a plane. So where did their fear come from? – Simple, it is conjured up in their own mind.

We have previously talked about the effects of the language we use, and about unhelpful thinking styles.  Think, for a moment, about the use of catastrophic language in air travel.  Words such as ‘terminal’, ‘turbulence’, ‘departed’, and ‘final destination’, could almost have been selected to increase fear.

Add this to the media reporting of air travel that focuses almost exclusively on what goes wrong and it’s hardly surprising that phobias are created.

How many phobias are there?

I very much doubt if anyone knows the answer to this one.  If it exists, there is somebody who has a phobia of it!

Phobias are all too real if you suffer them and, although some may even sound funny, they can be very limiting.  I have found people with phobias around buttons, zips, colours, polystrene, cracks in the pavement and many more.  These are hardly life threatening but I would like to look briefly at a serious phobia – Emetophobia.

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You may not have come across emetophobia but, if you have, you will know how seriously it can impact the sufferer and their friends/family.  There is a whole Thrive course tailored to curing emetophobia but briefly, it is the fear of being sick.

Nobody particularly likes being sick but emetophobia sufferers can be quite terrified of it.  They spend their days trying to avoid situations that may cause them, or others around them, to be sick.  Avoiding crowds (I might catch something), being over cautious about food (in case I get food poisoning) and not socialising (somebody else may be sick), are just a few of the impacts.

If you suffer, or know somebody who suffers, from emetophobia, the good news is that YOU CAN BEAT IT.  Your emetophobia is caused by your feelings of powerlessness and your unhelpful thinking styles, so get those right and ………YOU CAN THRIVE.


fears and phobias-self generated

So, fears and phobias are common.  Many will cause you no serious problems but some will impact your life hugely.  I recently met a guy who had got a new job involving a good deal of international travel.  He was told he could take his wife with him on some of these trips – sounds great doesn’t it. Unfortunately his wife has a serious fear of flying so will not even consider accompanying her husband.  This has not only disappointed him but has put a strain on their, otherwise happy, relationship.

Fortunately this lady is now undertaking the Thrive ‘Fly Happy’ programme and I am confident she will overcome her fears and start globe-trotting!

Whatever your fear or phobia The Thrive Programme will teach you how to beat it and go on to a thriving life.  At Thrive With Ian we will guide you through the programme, personalising the courses to your specific needs.

Join me tomorrow for a look at habits and addictions – do you need help with your New Year Resolution?

Ian Crosswell – Thrive With Ian



I’m Ian and I’m a qualified Thrive Programme Consultant. Using the professionally developed Thrive Programme – a proven, evidence based, positive psychology training programme – I work with people from all walks of life, providing the insights and skills they need to change their lives for the better.

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