When I was a young boy I was extremely afraid of bees and wasps – now I would say that I did have a bee phobia. In fact, just a bee somewhere in my proximity would get me to rise up and run around, my arms and hands wildly circulating around my head and body, screaming at the top of my lungs…
The funny thing is: I never even got stung by a bee or a wasp. I must have someday heard someone talk about how painful a sting was that it made me so afraid.
But it doesn’t matter whether you are a young kid or have ever been stung or are a “sting virgin” just as I was. It doesn’t even matter whether you are allergic or not. Because the process of getting over a bee phobia is always the same. It’s about making certain mental steps in your mind that help you to transform the feeling of panic and intense fear into remaining relaxed and calm.
It is true that a bee or wasp sting can be painful, and to people with allergies even life-threatening. But the truth is that fear doesn’t really reduce your risks of being stung. In fact, if you behave irrationally around bees, it even increases the risk of being stung, because your behavior might cause the bees to feel irritated or threatened, and trigger an attack.
But all the reasoning and sensible thinking in the world won’t change a think about your bee phobia. Because phobias are by their very nature something that is much stronger than reasonable thinking. They are strong emotions that override everything else.
Phobias reside in a part of our brains that is not as sophisticated as our thinking centers, but it is much more powerful. Neuroscientists call this part the amygdala, but that doesn’t really matter now. It’s almost as if there is a big red button in your brain that says: EMERGENCY! And when there is a bee, somebody hits on that button and all the lights and sirens go on and put you into a state of fear.
That is why hypnosis is so effective. Because it simply bypasses all your critical thinking, and instead talks directly to your subconscious mind – the part of your brain that’s in charge of fears and phobias.
And it essentially says to your brain: “Now listen, I know that bees can be dangerous to a certain extent, but what you’re doing isn’t helping to protect. Do you agree if we replace the feeling of fear with relaxed, calm awareness, so that you can provide better protection?”
Maybe you have old memories of bee stings that still haunt you – but hypnosis will break the spell they hold over you. You will be able to enjoy outdoor activities like you should, so that you relax and just have a good time, instead of worrying about some tiny insects.
And you will also notice that when you get over your fear of bees, you will become a more courageous person in general. This is a psychological phenomenon that Albert Bendura termed self-efficacy. It’s a way of generalizing courage. And courage is always a good thing to build.