Our mind is extremely complex. The mind has the ability to reason, think, feel, will, perceive, and judge. A mind that is positive and healthy, allows us to live wonderful and fruitful lives. Having a healthy mind helps us to be high functioning and 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. Some people are afraid of certain critters such as cats, spiders, snakes and mice. Others are afraid of being in certain situations, such as being on an elevator, speaking in public or a fear of drowning. I have seen people go through great lengths to avoid these types of situations. Did you know that now there are over 500 types of named phobias? As a human race, we are afraid of a lot of things, people and places. I searched for a list of various types of phobias and found some interesting ones such as:
Autophobia – fear of being alone or of oneself
Gamophobia – fear of marriage
Anuptaphobia – Fear of staying single
Ecclesiophobia – fear of church
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 a bad case of suriphobia or fear of mice. The phobia, didn’t just come out of nowhere, it had taken several years for my fear to develop. 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. My mom would say, “John R., get that thing out of here and quit scaring these girls.” The fear of mice continued throughout my college years and I found myself in quite a situation when I was working on my graduate degree and had to work in a scientific rat lab. I lived in fear day and night thinking the white lab rats were going to come back and get me since I had given them all of those shots.
Here’s where my phobia got me. When I was single, I owned a house that backed up to a large field. When winter came, it was not uncommon for field mice to try to find a way into the warmth of the nearby homes. During my first winter in the home, 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 in it by the time I left for work at 10:30 p.m. I was thankful I had not seen the mouse in the house, because I would have been ready to put the house up for sale. When I was ready to head out to work, I glanced at the trap and saw that it was empty, so I made a lot of noise and ran to get in the car.
Once I backed out of the garage, I felt better that I was in the car safe and sound and wouldn’t have to worry about it until I came home in the morning. As I rounded the corner to get on the highway, some papers in the back of my seat fell over. Immediately, I thought, “Oh my God, the mouse got in the car and it’s going to get me. 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 was relieved and pulled the car over and immediately jumped out of the car leaving the door open.
I asked the officer if he could help me. He was busy trying to tell me why he stopped me and I was trying to get him to help me get the possible mouse out of 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 by the way I still got a speeding ticket but at that point I really only cared about whether or not the mouse was in my car. Once I was sure the coast was clear, I went on to work and made it through the rest of the night. As I was telling my coworkers about my experience, they convinced me not to consider going to court and to 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.
I woke up later in the day, I couldn’t dare sing, “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus.” Instead my mind was focused on whether or not the dead mouse’s family was coming to get me. 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 out 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 Philippians 4: 4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Some phobias require professional help, while others can be healed through by studying and meditating on God's word. If you need help, get the help you need. Remember, it’s all in your mind.
The caterer I use regularly is called "The Comfort Zone Catering. I use him because he is reliable, good, and he prepares my favorite party foods. Even when I am unsure of what I want to do, he gives great suggestions to help me make up my mind.
What exactly is a comfort zone? Dictionary.com com defines it as "an environment or situation in which a person feels secure or at ease' also figuratively, an established lifestyle in which a person feels comfortable as long as there is no drastic change.
After reading this definition of comfort zone, I understand why I appreciate my caterer so much. He understands my lifestyle and what I am comfortable with, especially as it relates to the image I want to present, despite my budget. If I give him a dollar amount I am comfortable with, he figures out how to make it work for me. If I have to spend extra, he helps me to understand the benefits of why I should. Once I know the benefits of moving out of my comfort zone I may be more willing to accommodate the suggested changes to the menu.
What does it take to get you to move out of your comfort zone in areas of your life? I began with a financial situation because it is easy for all to relate. We tend to know our financial boundaries and will typically operate within our financial comfort zones on a regular basis. We know what we can afford and will only go outside of those boundaries when we can be assured of the benefits of doing so.
What about other comfort zones? I remember when I went through my divorce, I didn't feel comfortable going to the same places where my ex and I had gone as a couple. I particularly had trouble going to my children's school activities and sporting events. For some reason, my mind often thought about what others were saying about us. The next most difficult venue was going to church. The church is supposed to be a place of peace and acceptance but for a recent divorcee, it can be just the opposite. For some it takes a leap of faith to show up, despite what others are saying about you. For some, finding a new church home may be just what the doctor ordered. In order to do so, you must seek God's direction and trust His guidance and be willing to do something new, even if you are fearful of the unknown.
As a stepmom, I have to step out of your comfort zone all the time. There are times I have to go places where I feel I am not wanted and may possibly be invisible. I used to struggle when I had to attend one of my stepchildren's birthday celebrations or graduations. I often felt like a fifth wheel. In order to make things better for myself, I had to step out of my comfort zone and assist the biological mom with the plans so that I would feel included.
Are you willing to try something new that will benefit your relationship with your stepchildren? Having comfort zones are great because they allow you to have more control over your life with as minimal changes as possible. However don't get so comfortable that you are afraid to try new things, meet new people, or grow as an individual. Had I never stepped out of my comfort zone to share my experiences as a twice-divorced woman and a stepmom, I would have never been able to be a blessing to others. Have a great September and step out of your comfort zone.
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach