I was raised in a country where there were spiders. Not the sorts of spiders you see in a Northern European climate, but the saucer-sized monstrosities that would give a cat pause. I was never fond of them, but as I got older and had more and more encounters with them, I began to loathe the sight of them. Did it turn into a full-blown phobia? Who knows? Who can say what level of fear and repulsion counts as a phobia?
When I looked it up, it says ” an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.”
That fits the bill nicely. That’s how I felt.
Irrational fear is wrong-thinking, reacting to it, is wrong-doing.
It wasn’t so much fear, in that I didn’t run away screaming, but aversion is the exact word that described my feelings. I wanted no spider anywhere near me. If I saw one I would almost immediately rise up and smoosh it. I couldn’t risk that it would escape and then, hours later, return to my sleeping form and scurry over my face, bite me or otherwise interact with my unconscious body.
I didn’t feel ridiculous at the time, even though looking back, it is utterly incomprehensible for me to be scared of such a thing. Spiders, even relatively enormous ones, are small. None of them exceed the size of my hand and none of them could withstand the force of my boot.
Even if I think about a spider big enough to hunt birds, that’s not that big. If it were a puppy of that size, I would just think it cute. A rabid dog that size, I’d be mostly unconcerned. Why the horrible feelings about an eight legged, hairy, multi-eyed, squishy bag of guts?
Maybe it’s the atavistic fear of poisonous creatures. After all, many people are terrified of wasps and bees. Ironically I have never had any fear of being stung and scoff at people who run away, flapping their arms hysterically, from tiny flying insects.
Maybe it’s the inherent dislike of that which we find ugly. Is that inherent? Is the very fact that we find something ugly enough of a reason to want to be far from it? Not everyone finds spiders ugly of course.
Whatever it is, I no longer feel that way about them. It was about 18 months ago. I was in one of our outbuildings and I looked up and saw, very close to my head, a common house spider. They are pretty big, it has to be said, and extremely ugly. I barely reacted and remember thinking, “I hope that doesn’t come in the house, the cat will kill it and leave it laying about.”
It then occurred to me that I wasn’t incredibly repulsed nor was I even startled at the sight of a gross spider not six inches from my face.
I did some soul searching and realized that the reasons I that disliked and even feared spiders so much were gone.
The irrationality had vanished.
It was as though I had managed to get control of my mind and my life to such an extent, that illogical behaviors like phobias didn’t impact me. After all, I’ve spent years training my brain to challenge negative thoughts, take other people’s opinions with a pinch of salt and create my own self-esteem, free from the negative influences that before had hamstrung me horribly.
For about six months before that fateful encounter with the spider, I had been getting up at 5am and spending an hour with myself. Determining what my mindset was going to be, what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. Making decisions before time. Ensuring I would respond in the best possible manner. I hadn’t even once thought about how I would act when faced with a spider. Beforehand I would have shied away dramatically and then reached for the nearest object to flatten said arachnid. Now, I merely recognized its existence and moved on with my life.
- The way I felt about myself
- The way I felt about spiders
- What I knew about the brain and how it reacts to threats
- My self-assurance and faith in my own capability
- The insecurities I had harbored, gone
All these things meant that arachnophobia was no longer a part of my makeup. The personality I had created had no space for such fears. There was no such reality for me.
No exposure therapy. No tarantulas crawling over my face to get me used to the feeling of spiders. No forced interaction to show me how truly harmless they are.
I inadvertently came at the problem from the side. Indirectly.
Fix your insecurities and your life will change in ways you never expected.
Reach out if you’d like to talk about this in some more depth.