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Fears and Phobias

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The first time Sampath left his wife alone when he went on a work related trip six months after their wedding, he had no idea what would happen when he called home. A sobbing, hysterical Srividya told him that she had been unable to get anything done in the kitchen because there were two cockroaches clearly visible on the kitchen floor at night. “I went in at 11 o clock to get a glass of water,” sobbed Srividya. “I could clearly see them running on the floor! Since then, I have not been able to enter the kitchen in the morning.” A non-plussed Sampath calmed his wife down on the phone, asked her to wait for the maid’s arrival and have the offending insects killed either by spraying or wielding a broom, and then enter the kitchen. Srividya refused to be comforted, “What if we don’t find them at all?” she asked her husband. “Shall I go and stay in my aunt’s house till you return?”

Srividya’s panic reaction may appear utterly extreme to those of us who sail through life unburdened by any fears or phobias. But to those who harbour a secret horror, this reaction is quite natural. In fact, such fears and phobias have been well described in fiction down the centuries, including the recent Harry Potter books where Harry’s aversion to spiders has been often referred to. While fears and anxieties exist in each one of us, it is when they take an extreme form that they become life-complicating phobias.

The list of things that can arouse fear in the human mind is enormous – in fact, never ending, and a new name is coined every time it is discovered that people can fear this too! Claustrophobia, or its opposite, agoraphobia, are only some of the better known fears and phobia. Apart from this, there are dozens of others. As a Tarot practitioner with a dog, I often encounter people’s intense fear of dogs. Some freeze at the gate, waiting for me to take my pet away. Others scream from outside till my dog is put out of sight. Only once, a young man has actually turned and run, and never come back for his Tarot reading!

When you spend enough time in the world, you discover that the opposite of fear is love, and trust. One of the best ways to cure fears and phobias is to provide an abundance of love and understanding. Unfortunately, people with phobias often meet with ridicule and misunderstanding, even from their loved ones. Should you be in a relationship with a partner who has some serious phobias, just remember:

· Don’t reveal this to other friends and relatives in a humorous light. While your partner may occasionally be sporting enough to accept some teasing, in the long run you will end up hurting his or her feelings.
· Communicate with your partner in small doses about the fear. Probing too hard like a psycho-analyst may make them clam up or refuse to tell you their true feelings. But speaking to them now and then, trying to find out what exactly led to this, whether it is also an ‘inherited’ fear from a parent, whether it is related to an incident, is important.
· Help your partner overcome the fear through small, positive actions. If you find the fear is one of dogs, for instance, you could read aloud some small news items showing dogs in a good light from the morning paper, or showing people’s intense love for their dogs. Try to take away the threatening element from the feared objects, and present them to your partner in a more rational manner.
· Be alert to see that your partner’s fear is not passed on to your children, if it persists. Since your partner cannot be expected to lead your child up to the things she or he fears, it is up to you that the child is not saddled with unnecessary anxieties from their childhood on.

Life lived without fear is life indeed! Do your best to tackle these internal devils.

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