This article is about how easy it is to install a fear into someone and the implications that can have on someone’s life.
Obviously I don’t really want to teach you how to install fear into people although you can deconstruct the process from this article. What I do want to show you is just how easy it is to do accidentally, how it may well have already happened to you and how you might have accidentally done it to others.
My Dark Secrets
The best way to illustrate just how easy it is to install a fear into someone is to give you a real life example. This is something I did accidentally many years ago. At the time I sort of knew what I had done but it was only really years later when I started properly learning about NLP and hypnosis that I truly realised the enormity of what I had done and the impact I had on John’s life.
This is a personal story and I have changed some of the details to protect the person’s identity.
Many years ago when I was still a teenager and the world was a simpler place I occasionally had to babysit a child. I am going to call him John. He was somewhere between five and seven years old at the time.
On this particular day I had wanted to go out and play with my friends but I was also due to babysit. I negotiated a compromise from my mother which was to take John with me. We only reached this agreement after my mother had extorted a promise of being extra careful and not letting John out of my sight and a very long laboured explanation of the trouble I would be in if anything happened to him.
With that in mind off we went in search of jolly japes and ripping yarns.
During the course of the day we met up with some of my friends. In the late 70’s and early 80’s teenagers had to make their own fun and most of it consisted of standing around not doing much at all. At some point whilst I was trying to make socially inept small talk with the current lust of my life and I took my eyes off John.
Installing a Fear of Falling
As a standard rule of thumb once you take your attention away from a small child that is in your care they immediately end up in danger. In the milliseconds that I was distracted John had managed to scale a wall. He was running along a six foot high precipice without a care in the world. His sole intention was to catch my attention and show off so I am fairly sure he was about to start hopping or doing a rollee pollee or something equally dangerous across the top of the wall.
The important point here is that John didn’t not have any sense of consequences and he was happy enough with what he was doing. When I saw him I was terrified. I fully understood how much he could hurt himself and I was instantly feeling guilty for letting him get himself into danger.
The first thing I did was shout at him which obviously made him go all wobbly. In fact he froze in fear. But that wasn’t the fear of falling it was the fear that he was in trouble with me. I then ran over and grabbed John off the wall whilst berating him about climbing up there in the first place and explaining in no uncertain terms just how dangerous it was.
I continued being angry until John was in tears and I realised he wasn’t hurt and I was now doing more harm than good. I forgave him, hugged him and played games with him until it seemed that the incident was over. For both of us that was the end of the conscious part of the incident.
But on an unconscious level I had put John in a heightened emotional state and connected that to being on a high place. This was almost a classic example of installing an anchor. It is also how lots of phobias start.
Years later when we are a lot older we discussed the incident. John admitted to me that he spent a lot of his formative years being terrified of heights. He could not stand at the edge of even a small drop without getting dizzy. He then went on to tell me that he took up rock climbing specifically to get over his fear of heights. And all of it stemmed from this one incident.
My actions installed that fear in John. Had I dealt with it differently I could have given him an awareness of the danger without installing an emotional response.
It is the emotional response that was hampering John from that point onwards. Whenever he came across a precipice of any sort his unconscious mind was desperately trying to let him know there was danger and stop him from putting himself in that position.
But also John “unlearned” that fear response for himself by progressively exposing himself to that danger in a controlled way until his unconscious mind had let go of the fear.
Often the crux of our self-confidence issues don’t come from not having confidence but from having negative emotions that need dealing with. And these negative emotions could be installed in us by accident at a young age without anyone knowing. Here are a few examples I have seen come up with clients.
- Transference of a fear of injections or a fear of the dentist being transferred from parent to child
- A fear of dogs installed in a child after being forced to play with a large dog
- A fear of public speaking after being forced to stand in front of the class and read a difficult passage in a book
- A hatred of money based on being berated by parents every time they asked for pocket money
- A fear of promotion and positions of authority stemming from being beaten up and bullied after being made a prefect at school
And the list goes on…but in all these cases my adult client was being held back because of things that had happened long ago in the past. And until they explored the issue they didn’t even know what was holding them back. Often they just define it as a lack of confidence. The real issue is that they were not lacking anything. What they had was some unhelpful negative emotions that they needed to get rid of.
On the Confidence Booster Course we delve into how we create these negative emotions and how you can let the go without having to climb mountains. Currently you can get a better than 25% discount on the course. Click through and find out more here: