Spiders, crane flies, daddy long legs – many of which I appear to be sharing my home with at the moment!
For me, that is OK but for more than one person in every other family household, they experience terror at not only meeting one, but often just at the thought there MIGHT be one around.
And if 1 in 5 people are petrified, I would hazard a guess that at least one, if not two others will have a level of fear that is inhibiting them.
(Read on or watch a video here.)
Many people do not get help for arachnophobia because they feel embarrassed. As a therapist, I often hear, “I know I am stupid,” and my instant response is, “YOU ARE NOT.”
Let me explain why.
Why so many people struggle with spiders
There are two key reasons why arachnophobia is so common.
Firstly, if you consider many of the other top 5 phobias, you can get through life without exposing yourself to them. You don’t HAVE to fly. You don’t HAVE to do public speaking. But we cannot avoid spiders.
Your mind will be aware of this and so, especially at autumn time, it will be set on high alert knowing that the probability of seeing a spider is high. This heightened sensitivity will support a stronger reaction (petrified) when exposed to the spider.
Secondly, most spider phobias are learned behaviour. As children, we learn much of what we do from the significant adults in our lives. If a young child sees Mum running away from a spider screaming, they determine that is what you do. A link is made between spiders and fear and is lodged in your mind – and it stays there, being triggered by every spider you see, strengthening the link.
As that child grows up, the conscious part of the brain develops. This part is rational, logical, mature – it knows that leggy spider on the kitchen floor is not dangerous. However the subconscious mind is responsible for our safety and any references to risk causes the conscious mind to be bypassed and our most primitive instinct, the fight or flight response is triggered – and we run away.
Your brain is not malfunctioning, it is actually doing a brilliant job in keeping you alive – it has just got a reference to risk that is not appropriate.
The subconscious only works in the now and so as soon as you have escaped said beastie, the conscious mind is allowed back in at which point it starts beating you up for having run away from something IT knows is not dangerous. As so your inner discomfort in relation to spiders increases.
How the phobia can be resolved
My 3 pleas for you...
1. Please do not spend the next 4-6 weeks being petrified during this highest exposure time of year.
2. Please do not be embarrassed. You are one in many people having this fear.
3. Know that by helping yourself, you could influence others to not pick up your fears.