More common than you think, I probably get a call a week from someone with a fear of vomiting; either themselves or others. It’s actually called emetophobia. This young girl was feeling totally trapped, miserable and a bad mother to boot. Her fear of her children being sick was enough to send her spiralling into panic if ever she heard about a sickness bug going around at school, was enough to send fear into her whenever one of her children went on a sleepover or even went to a playground or soft play area. She desperately wanted to be a ‘happy and relaxed mummy’ and didn’t want to pass her fears on to her young children.
Fears and phobias usually begin in early childhood and can often develop as a direct result of a negative experience relating to the issue or we learn them off our parents. When you are little, if your mum and dad react in a certain way to something, you tend to model that behaviour, tend to think, ‘oh this is how I respond in that situation ’ and follow suit. For example, if a parent reacted in a scared way when they or you were being sick, this can set up a signal to your subconscious that being sick is something to be feared. It may only take one instance of this happening to set up this phobia particularly if the parent’s reaction was severe. Often once these patterns are learned, they are near on impossible to change consciously. Often they get worse over time as each time a phobia is experienced, the behaviour reinforces and strengthens the phobia. It didn’t surprise me in the least that this young lady’s mother also had a phobia of people being sick.
The good news is that fears and phobias can be helped relatively easily. In a sense the person with the fear has negatively hypnotised themselves to be that way. So I just help them to positively hypnotise themselves!
The first thing was to reprocess the original event and the accompanying fears and emotions. By helping her to ‘unlearn’ a conditioned response she was able to be free from the hold it had over her. That old programme of fear was no longer relevant or necessary. What was interesting here was that this young girl thought she knew where the problem stemmed from, she thought it was from a time when she was a little girl and was very sick and her mum had panicked and the young girl got very frightened and thought something was seriously wrong. In actual fact (and we don’t always discover the cause or even need to) it turned out to be a time when she was even younger and she had heard her mum being sick in the bathroom and saying to her Dad that she felt so sick she thought she was going to die. This obviously was very scary for the young girl who didn’t understand that it was just a turn of phrase and took it literally. You see, it doesn’t always have to be a direct experience to set up these things. It can be something you hear, see or even read about especially if you’re already in a highly emotional state.
We reprocessed both of those memories and dealt with the fear. Of course, it’s unrealistic that someone will actually enjoy being sick or dealing with someone who is sick but instead of being fearful and scared, this young lady was able to feel indifferent about the thought of a sickness bug. She reported back that she was finally able to enjoy life rather than fear life and she could take her children places without a dark cloud hanging over her head.