What makes us afraid? We often don’t fear the thing itself; people are not usually scared of heights, they are scared of falling and dying. The same is true of a fear of flying, it’s not the plane itself that bothers us but the fear of it crashing. If we are claustrophobic, it’s not the fear of being in a small space, it’s the fear of being trapped and suffocated that really makes us start to panic.
Have a look at this video. Basically it takes the most dramatic scenes from horror movies but the background music is like something from a cartoon; by doing this and losing the tension and atmosphere from the movie scene, the ‘fear’ element is greatly reduced or even lost completely. Think about watching a horror film in broad daylight on a crowded beach – do you think it would have the same impact as watching it in a dark cinema? No, of course not!
So this is what we need to do with our fears because our imagination is pretty much like watching a movie isn’t it? Think about something that worries you, picture it in your mind and let it become dark and sinister; then ‘rewind’ to the beginning and think about the same thing but this time have the silliest song you can think of playing in the background. Then rewind again, start from the beginning and imagine a funny face on the object of your fear with the silly music playing. Next time imagine the object of your fear as being really tiny. Eventually that terrifying spider will be no more scary than a minion!
If you think about your imagination as a movie playing in your head, ask yourself why, if you saw a really awful movie, you’d keep going back to watch it over and over again. That’s essentially what we do when we worry about something; we watch a really bad movie, then make it worse by adding more dialogue or images and then we watch it again and again and again. The next time you feel yourself doing this just give yourself permission to switch it off and watch something else more pleasant!