It’s that time of year again. Twelve contestants from the world of entertainment and sport enter the Australian jungle to battle it out against each other and mother nature in order to be crowned ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ of the Jungle.’ As we sit cosily within the safety of our living rooms, these celebrities endure a diet of rice and beans supplemented by scraps won in ‘bush-tucker trials.’
No matter where you stand on this kind of entertainment, you find yourself admitting it’s incredibly eye-catching television because it exploits some pretty basic human themes that we all find fascinating.
One of the uppermost themes in the show is facing your fears. More specifically, facing phobias regarding certain kinds of animals. The usual suspects are there: spiders, snakes, rats, cockroaches, worms, you name it. It’s all designed to hook us in because at least one of these poor creatures is on most peoples’ ‘creepy-crawly’ hit list.
Given just a brief glimpse of one of these bush-tucker trials you notice how some of the contestants seem to take it all in their stride whilst others experience strong symptoms of anxiety because they have phobias relating to the animals involved. And being a hypnotherapist, this got me thinking.
Away from the cameras what is never openly stated by the show’s producers is that having some level of fear for certain animals is a good thing. It is in fact an instinctive, natural, defence mechanism that the mind uses to protect us all from harm. And when it comes to jungle critters in a tropical country like Australia, that’s no bad thing.
However, the show does serve to remind us how disabling it can be to have this type of phobia in your daily life, especially if the animal is commonplace, like say, a spider, a wasp or a dog.
We all start off life perfect. Somewhere along the way we encounter a negative experience with an animal (usually in childhood). It could be a first hand experience, or passed on from a family member close to us. Whichever way we first encounter it, we feel a strong emotion with the experience, also known as the initial sensitising event. We then attach a strong belief to this emotional experience inside us. From this point onwards this belief is the fear – and it becomes stronger and more complex over time, especially when we encounter the animal or stimulating event again. The more this happens, the more we trigger our fear. Over time the original fear has grown out of all proportion to the actual risk involved – and has now become an irrational fear – i.e. a phobia.
This is where hypnotherapy comes in. Many people don’t realise that their phobia can be removed or ‘turned down’ to a sensible level that enables normal living. Those who have used hypnotherapy to help lessen the intensity of their fear, find they can completely release themselves from the grip that the fear has had over their lives, and live their lives to the full: no more avoidance of certain hangouts; no more wearing of protective clothes; no more panic attacks; no more uncontrollable shaking or sweating. Instead, a calmer, more natural reaction to the stimulus experienced. And this goes for any type of animal, jungle critter or otherwise.