Do you cringe when you hear an owl screech in the dead of the night?
Do you yelp when you see a snake?
Do you hide under the blanket when you see a creepy branch rapping against the window,
Or jump on the bed when you see a spider/rat?
Of course, you do! Don’t be all brave and snobbish!
There is nothing, nothing wrong with being afraid of something or someone. It’s one of the most primal emotions known to mankind – fear, in fact to every species. A dog is scared of a bigger dog, a snake is scared of a mongoose, a lion is scared of man. Fear is often the only thing that is between survival and death. Then why hide behind a veneer of forced bravery?
Okay, it’s Monday morning. Let me not preach!
This week on Candles Online we are discussing Phobias and Fears. Since this is a Monday morning post (the week’s worst day), and since I’ve done some serious sharing on my real ‘fear of failing at writing’ in another blog post, I thought I’d spare you all the drama and start this week off on a lighter note.
So what’s my great big fear? Any guesses?
(Hint: It’s related to an animal)
Apparently, a fear of lizards is called Herpetophobia. So that makes me a Herpetophobic!
Yes, I have a morbid fear of them. I can’t tell you just how revolting the sight of their jaundiced skin is to me. To top it all, thrice in my life have I had their slithery bodies plopping onto me from some overhead crevice, the most recent incident being just a week back, and I nearly had a heart attack; my Fitbit recorded a heart rate of 165 bpm when that thing fell on me, I kid you not!
And as if that isn’t enough, I’m the butt of all lizard jokes in my family. Every time a lizard happens to be in the room, someone goes, ‘Oh, there’s a lizard lurking in that corner. Watch Pradita go bananas now!’ My husband has even captured me having a breakdown on account of a lizard in the kitchen on camera! Yes, I’m that lame.
Now onto the analysis part. One must ask why are we scared of itty-bitty creatures? Can we not shoo away a lizard? Can’t we sweep away a spider or a cockroach? Can’t we trap a mouse? Yes, we can. But our fears take ahold of us and force an extreme reaction from us even for something as small and harmless as a spider. Some people are just born with it, but with most, it is because at some point of time, when we were growing up, we were exposed to a similar over-reaction from someone else and it became a part of our behaviour. It could also happen because we have been taught to be cautious of creepy-crawlies, because they are either disgusting or because they can bite/sting. So we developed a habit to react strongly since then because it got hard-wired into our brains.
As we attain adulthood such unnatural and senseless fears generally abate, but there are many, many out there (like me) who are just as scared of a bug as they were when they were five, some even requiring medical intervention. Granted some creepy-crawlies, like cockroaches, are carriers of disease, and lizards infact help you in getting rid of these pesky bugs from your home, but we still go berserk when we see them.
There is a scientific reason too for why we are afraid of these tiny creatures. It’s because our brains confuse disgust with fear; because both are strongly associated with something called the rejection response. As we humans evolved we incorporated this disgust-fear response into our behaviour. so it became a part of our ‘behavioural legacy’. That makes sense to me, considering how I think lizards are actually just disgusting rather than being fearsome, because really, what can they do to you, except scare the living daylights out of you when they detach their tails and freak you out. Yikes!
I’ll give you a real-life example. My daughter loves all kinds of animals. She calls lizards ‘Lizzy’ and when she started recognizing animals she had no qualms or fear about going after even the ickiest of bugs, like slugs and centipedes. She was unlike me in the presence of a lizard. But that changed over a period of time when she saw me over-reacting to lizards. Now she replicates my reaction when she sees a lizard and I hate myself for it because I’ve taught her to have an unnatural fear of these things instead of telling her calmly that she should be careful of them. Lesson learnt. Hopefully, I’ll undo the damage I’ve done in time, but parents beware, you may be passing on your fears to your children.
Coming back to the point of fear and how they affect us, the fear of bugs and icky things, laughable as it may be to some, can be quite crippling to those who suffer from it. I am unable to sleep in a room where I’ve found a lizard. There was an incident when I was in college, and a lizard was camping in the washroom of my paying guest accommodation, and I refused to go to the bathroom all night long, with the result that I had severe cramps the next morning that required painkillers. I have taught myself to control my unnatural fear and anxiety with regards Lizards, but I gave these examples to only remind us all that fears, even of the tiniest of creatures, are not a laughable matter when they start interfering with our normal lives. Extreme distress caused by these fears and phobias becomes a psychological disorder that requires treatment and therapy.
How do we prevent this from happening? In some cases, like where you just are afraid of such creatures, and they start to cripple your life, don’t be ashamed to seek help, you really can’t do anything else. But when you start getting those nasty panic attacks, breathe and tell yourself that they can’t harm you unless they come in contact with you (in case of those creatures that are disease carriers or sting/bite), and that in most cases, those poor creatures are more scared of us than we are of them!
Above all, do not, I repeat, DO NOT allow yourself to be humiliated or humiliate someone else for having these phobias. Remember every one of us has a fear of something. If we don’t, we’re liars.
I leave you with this quote by Tim Hoch –
Don’t be fearless, just fear less.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Featured Image: ThuyHaBich at Pixabay