I found this blog post I wrote over a year ago. I'm posting it here because it is a helpful tool for fears of the mind. If you or a child you know is having repeated thought imagery that scares them, this might help.
On this particular day my fear was of heights. Here is what I did that day.
This isn't just about being afraid of heights–I'm just using that as an example. THIS IS ABOUT NIXING ANY TYPE OF FEAR IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE.
I'm not kidding. This tool is one of the most fantastic things I have ever learned and you know I'm a Personal Growth geek prone to excitement. So hold on to your screens, there is some enthusiastic arm-waving coming.
Let me explain:
I’ve been terrified of heights for as long as I can remember. I’m not the only one in my family who is so maybe it’s genetic? Or is it learned? Years of “be careful!” on the playground, perhaps? Over the years I’ve tried to figure it out but turns out the cause is irrelevant to the cure.
What’s relevant is my massive recovery from height issues and the helicopter parenting of my children on anything off the ground. Like that slide. Any slide. Even the short one in the mall play area.
Honestly, if I even see YOU climb a ladder I feel sick to my stomach.
Which leads us to Jump Creek.
It sounded like a lovely outing. And it was with all of the stream-hopping and bird-watching until until my four year old wanted to, you know, be a four year old.
No! Do not climb on that rock!
The rock is 1.5 feet off the ground. Even I was sighing inwardly at my behavior but I couldn't help myself. My eyes started darting around looking for a ground-level escape route back to the minivan.
That's when my hiking buddy told me: "You have these images in your head but they aren’t real. You’re making them up." And then he taught me a NLP technique that CHANGED EVERYTHING.
I WILL TEACH IT TO YOU NOW. WANT TO TRY?
Take that image of that horrible thing you are imagining and see it. Even make the image bigger until you really see it. Then, super-fast, shrink the image until it is tiny, like a small gif in the middle of the screen. Now make that tiny image black-and-white and blink it. On. Off. On. Off. Or as I liked to do: black-on-white then white-on-black. Back and forth. Back and forth until it just seems to... not care anymore.
Now try to look at your original picture in your mind. Does that image bother you anymore?
NO IT DOESN’T.
::runs around in a circle waving hands in the air::
Mind blown, I spent the rest of my time at the creek powering through the embarrassingly high number of images that needed reprogramming in my very imaginative mind.
This potential fall. BOOM. Gone.
That potential wet-in-the-creek issue. BOOM. You’re gone too.
And That one. That one. That one. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.
Those images didn’t stand a chance.
I remember standing there outside that day, staring at the water running over the rocks like a deer caught in the headlights. What is this amazing mind-freedom I have found in the space of a pause?
How could things I have struggled with ALL MY LIFE suddenly seem... inconsequential?
Since then I have used this tool on so many images in my mind I didn't want to keep.
This tool works on any image in your mind: images of the past and images of the imagined future. And it works RIGHT NOW.
This tool is so effective if I had know about it years ago I might have a different career. I could have crossed the scaffolding over that stage class in college without sweating and wanting pass out, pale and nauseous. I COULD HAVE BECOME A LIGHTING DESIGNER.
At least I could have in my mind which, come to find out, is where we live most of our lives anyway, good or bad.
It's like personal growth and stuff.