Our minds are extremely complex. We have the ability to reason, think, feel, perceive, and judge. A mind that is positive and healthy, allows us to live wonderful and fruitful lives. Having a sound mind helps us to be high functioning individuals capable of being healthy spiritually and physically. However, when our mind is not functioning property, our thoughts and beliefs can go astray and produce extreme fear and anxiety.
One such way our brains can go awry is when we develop phobias. A phobia is a form of fear, which storms your mind and shakes your confidence. A phobia can be a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the suffered commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.
People are afraid of many people, places, situations and things. Did you know that now there are over 500 types of named phobias? Here’s my top ten of interesting ones:
Autophobia – fear of being alone or of oneself
Nomophobia – fear of being without a cell phone or not having the phone charged
Gamophobia – fear of marriage
Anuptaphobia – Fear of staying single
Ecclesiophobia – fear of church
Didaskaleinophobia - fear of going to school, commonly known as a “school phobia,”
Eisoptrophobia – fear of mirrors of seeing oneself
Philophobia – fear of falling in love or being in love
Zeusophobia – Fear of God
Novercaphobia – Fear of your stepmother
Having a phobia can cause you to do some strange things. In my 20’s and 30’s I had suriphobia or fear of mice. The phobia, didn’t just come out of nowhere, it was a process. When we were young children, my dad would scare my mom and us four girls whenever he caught a mouse. We screamed to the top of our lungs as we all jumped on our parent’s bed. When I went college and graduate school, a degree in biological psychology meant spending some working in the scientific rat lab. I lived in fear day and night thinking the white lab rats were going to bite or scratch me.
Here’s an interesting story of how my mind and phobia got out of control. I once owned a house that backed up to a large field. When winter came, my neighbor warned me the mice often came in the garage or in the house. When I spotted one in the garage, I was scared to death. I was working nights, so I set a trap and hoped the mouse would be caught by the time I left for work. I was thankful it was in the garage and not the house because I would have been ready to put the house up for sale. As I left for work no mouse was in the trap so didn’t worry about it.
Once I backed out of the garage, I felt better being in the car safe and sound. As I rounded the corner to get on the highway, I heard a noise in the back seat. Immediately, I thought, “Oh my God, the mouse somehow got in the car.” I was terrified, so I hit the gas. Don’t ask me why I hit the gas, I was just scared. Within about a mile of my speeding, I saw red lights in my rear view mirror.
I jumped out of the car (I wouldn’t try this now) and immediately asked the officer if he could help me. He was focused on telling me why I was pulled over and I needed to tell him about the possible mouse in my car. I tried to assure him that I was not crazy, but asked him if he would check my car to make sure a mouse was not in the back seat. He looked at me very strange as I attempted to tell him what I had just gone through. I told him he could write me a ticket, but he had to at least check my car before I got back in. The officer was amused as I carefully opened each door and jumped back and asked him to use his flashlight to check.
By now, all of you think I am nuts and yes I still got a speeding ticket. Once I arrived at work and told my coworkers about my experience, they laughed and convinced me just pay the fine. When I returned home in the morning, the mouse was in the trap. I won’t bother to tell you the story of what I went through to dispose of the mouse. But three layers of clothes and gloves, a new broom and dustpan, and four trash bags later, I was rid of the critter forever.
To make matters worse, I woke up later in the day in fear. I thought dead mouse’s family was coming to look for their missing family member. Okay so you get the drift, it was all in my mind that the mouse could first of all get in my car and then that he had family that was going to take revenge on me. Do you see where your mind can go if you have a phobia?
Maybe you don’t have a phobia, but you have anxiety about some people, places or things. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." It took me several years to be free of my phobia, but as the Lord began to deliver me, I had to focus on scriptures such as 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
If you have a phobia, there is help for you. In some cases you can do it on your own. You may need to seek the assistance of a therapist who may use cognitive restructuring which is the process of learning to identify and dispute irrational thoughts. Christian counselors are also available who can assist you through counseling activities that will include studying and meditating on God's word.
What are you afraid of?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach