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A Layman’s perspective on phobias

Everybody has them, but not everybody is aware of it or admits it.  Phobia is an irrational fear of something.  It can be snakes, heights, airplanes, travel, germs, or sickness, which are some common ones.  Or it can be of bridges, clowns, or even being tickled by feathers (it is true).

Some think that THEY ARE their phobia, so they do not identify it as a separate symptom, but part of who they are.  As a result they never try to solve the problem as it is not a problem, but “just the way they are.”  This is giving up to the phobia and identifying with it, instead of identifying with who one truly is.

Some are ashamed of having phobias, which makes it more destructive, as it degrades their view of themselves.  For example in Middle Eastern cultures, being afraid is associated with cowardice.  There is a difference between phobia and cowardice.  Phobia is an irrational persistent fear in the mind.  Cowardice is completely succumbing to the irrational fear, instead of trying to separate it from who you truly are and then labeling it as what it truly is: just a perception in the mind.  Some define FEAR as Fake Evidence Appearing Real.

Some succumb to phobias, and alter their behavior and daily life dramatically to accommodate them.  The ironic thing is the result of this behavior is more phobias and more succumbing to them.  It never lets as long as one runs away from it.  The only way to deal with phobias is to confront it and deal with it.  One way to do so is to find out what it really is and separating it from who you truly are.

Eckhart Tolle talks about phobia a:s fear of the future based on dreading of the past.  it is not about what is happening right now.  It is triggered by an interpretation of the mind of something happening in the now, but it has nothing to do with reality.  It is just a perception of the mind of a future problem.  According to Tolle, when humans face problems in the now they deal with them without phobia.  They just deal with them.  The phobia part is fear of the unknown future.  An evidence to prove that might be the fact that some of the more relaxed, safe, and secure communities worldwide suffer more from phobia than the people living in distressed economies.  In distressed economies, they are dealing with a problem they have in the now.  No phobia is needed.  Those who live a lavish lifestyle might be afraid to lose it and that may lead to phobia.

One of the more interesting perspectives on phobia that I have heard is of a well known Muslim scholar, Dr Mohammed Rateb Ennabilsi, who considers phobia a result of one or group of wrong perceptions about life.  So, phobia sometimes is telling us indirectly that we need to be searching for better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.  This is when phobia becomes an opportunity to learn more about self and to face the big questions of life, then work diligently on finding real answers that put our minds and more importantly our “selves” at ease. Seeking the truth and fulfilling our mission in life seem to be in the fabric of what the humans are made of.  When we ignore or neglect this duty of ours, all kinds of psychological problems might emerge.  There is no substitute for the diligent search for truth and fulfilling our true purpose.  Ironically, the truth is here and now, and it is too close to us to even hit us in the face.  It is engraved within.  We just need to let go of all the noise and distractions.

It might be unrealistic to assume that one can get rid of all phobias altogether.  I believe we should not look at this as an all-or-nothing proposition.  It is not either you have it or you do not.  It is more about managing and dealing with ourselves and remembering to accept ourselves as we are and know that once in a while phobia will show its ugly head and yes we might get scared.  However, we need to learn to manage.  To find the strength.  To seek the truth, and find refuge in it.

Some never have phobias.  This can be good or bad.  It is good if one reached a high level of surrender to God.  This is wonderful.  Some however never experience it because they do not even know they have phobias, or because they have convinced themselves of false beliefs about who and what they truly are.  They are blinded by money, power, strength, social status, etc.  Usually one day they wake up to find out that all of that cannot give them fulfillment.  Then their true journey beings.

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