Fear of Crowds
What Is A Phobia?
The Greek word for “fear” is phobos, which is where we get the word “phobia.” Therefore, any time we see a word ending with “-phobia,” we know that we are dealing with a fear of something or some event. Below is a list of known phobias.
Acrophobia: Fear of heights
Hydrophobia: Fear of water
Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders
Claustrophobia: Fear of being in closed spaces
Agoraphobia: Fear of Crowds
Avoidance: The Real Culprit
Regardless of the fear, all have one thing in common: avoidance. We avoid taking the elevator because we fear we will be trapped, suffocate, and die. If we are at a restaurant, we fear we may be having a heart attack, faint, or go crazy. Therefore, we must avoid going out in public. It’s better to take the stairs than the elevator since we won’t be trapped inside.
We erroneously believe that if we avoid what makes us fearful, then we won’t have to experience those feelings. However, the truth is that when we avoid those situations, we are actually reinforcing our fear.
Breaking the Cycle
To be free from whatever phobia we may experience, we need to know the truth about our feelings and how to overcome them.
Like Pavlov’s dog, we’ve conditioned ourselves to be fearful. So the only solution is to recondition our thoughts and accept the truth rather than our misbeliefs.
Below are a few tips to achieve freedom from our fear.
1. Panic attacks as a result of agoraphobia or any king of phobia does not lead to insanity. Those feelings may be uncomfortable, but you can overcome them.
2. Do the 3-4-5 exercise. Breathe in for three seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, then exhale for five seconds. Repeat this at least four or five times.
3. Utilize desensitization techniques. Break down your fear into baby steps. Instead of leaving the house, walk to the end of the driveway. Stay there for a few minutes until you feel better. Next time walk to the end of the block. If you feel anxious, just practice the breathing exercises, and tell yourself the truth.
4. Replace the fear of being in public with the fun of being in public. Imagine spending time with friends and family, whether you’re at a restaurant or at a symphony.
5. Play the Even-If Game. Instead of asking, “What if . . . ?”, say, “Even if this happens, I might not like it, but I won’t die, lose control, or be humiliated. At worst, I’ll feel a little uncomfortable, that’s all.”
The key to avoidance is by doing what we fear. Irrational thoughts are the foundation of all phobias. We have to break the pattern by associating what’s fun and pleasurable about being out in public rather than what might happen.
Some may ask how long it takes to be set free from agoraphobia. The answer depends on the willingness and courage of the individual. By repeatedly subjecting ourselves to what we fear, combined with the proper mindset, we can break this fear forever.
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