There is so much to say about fears and phobias. They are a very common concern that clients bring to my (zoom) door. I could, and no doubt will, write many posts on the topic. Given it is Mother’s Day in the UK at the end of this week, I thought I would focus today on how being a mother can give us the impetus to change any phobias or fears we may have.

And please feel free to replace ‘mother’  with father / parent / caregiver as what I’m about to say applies equally to any of these relationships.

First, a little background. In a nutshell, a phobia is a predictable pattern of thought. It is an automatic and unwanted response to a specific stimulus. Both physical and mental symptoms flow as a result. Anything from nausea, temperature changes, shaking, an overwhelming desire to avoid the stimulus and more. Full on fight, flight or freeze takes effect when a phobic response is playing out.

Now, for the really interesting part. Our states of mind can be contagious. And never more so than in the mother-child relationship. Have you ever become stressed by your child’s tantrum? Yes? Me too.

When our child sees us terrified by a dog (my life story until I worked on it and changed it), a spider, flying, climbing a tall building, the dentist… insert your preferred fear, they learn that thing is dangerous and something to be scared of. And so we unwittingly pass on our fear. I most certainly did this with my eldest daughter and my previous fear of dogs.

I say all this, not to add to the burden that motherhood can sometimes feel. Far from it. I say it to empower and encourage you. It is in your hands to show your child a different response. Genuinely. So many clients find this is the impetus they need to take the time to make this change. And what’s more, to make this change stick.

Yes, yes, yes…we *should* do it for ourselves. But honestly, how often as a mother do we fall to the bottom of the pile? However, if it would help our child, then there’s no time like the present, am I right?

And now for the super sweet part. I said at the top that phobias and fears are predictable patterns. And because of this they are highly amenable to transforming into a new predictable pattern.

When you run a phobia pattern, your brain gets really, really good at responding in a certain way to a specific stimulus. See dog, feel fear, sick in pit of stomach, heart rate increases, grab small child, look to leave park…  x100 over a lifetime. I never once thought, ah dog, lovely, let me go stroke it… my brain always responded in the same way, basically get me out of here. And fast.

With such a predictable pattern, change comes by interrupting that pattern so your brain no longer has it as evidence for how to respond the next time you encounter that feared thing. Once interrupted, there is the gloriously empowering opportunity to choose and set your response.

So for me and dogs, it’s a calm, ambivalent neutrality, a ‘oh there’s a dog, that’s interesting, let me carry on with my nice time in the park’… back to my world. And that’s how I want it to be. That’s the message I want my daughters to receive from me (sorry, I don’t want to be a dog owner! So a calm neutrality is right for me!)

By taking the time to focus on yourself, changing something for yourself, you always have an effect on the people closest to you. And never more so than in  a mother-child relationship. It’s like watching those beautiful gentle, concentric rings flow out across the water when you toss a smooth pebble into the pond. As your pebble meets the water, you see the rings grow and flow outwards in the most beautiful way.

As you read this and if any fears or phobias of your own come to mind, please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.