Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 02-23-2016
Tags: anxiety, hypnotherapy, phobias
I received an unexpected voicemail message from a man claiming he needed to schedule an “Emergency” appointment.
Firstly, the word “emergency” always makes me nervous because I’m afraid the person is suicidal, and they think I am a psychotherapist. Before calling him back, I grab the number for suicide prevention and google who I have to call if he really is. I was very relieved when a young sounding man answered the phone and told me he needed to schedule an emergency appointment to handle a fear. The fear in question… a fear of peacocks. “I’m sorry, did you say peacocks?” I thought he was joking. I have to remind myself to assume everyone is serious so I don’t start laughing.
“Yes, peacocks. I hate those stupid peacocks. I’m afraid of them, and I need this handled by Saturday.”
“I am sure I can see you before then, but just out of curiosity, why Saturday?”
“Because I am going to the San Diego Zoo with a bunch of friends, and they have peacocks there. I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of them.“ He explained that he was in the military, and they were on leave. Someone had gotten a bunch of zoo passes, and they were going.
I have a zoo pass and have gone many times over the years. I hadn’t even noticed there were peacocks, but that’s how fears work. A person afraid of spiders can spot a spider from a mile away. I have a relative who finds money everywhere; he can spot a dime from a hundred yards away, whereas I could trip over a $100 bill and not see it. This is probably why he is richer than I am, but that’s a different story.
I have worked with clients’ fears of just about every barnyard animal that exists, so I have heard many versions of this story. Most frequently geese are the offending animal, although I have heard about quite a few horses as well. My client, who is stationed at the local camp Pendleton, is originally from Ohio. He grew up on a farm and had a very bad relationship with the peacocks they kept. They chased and pecked at him every time he was in the yard by himself.
For a long time, he was smaller than they were, but he still found them pretty scary even when he was quite a bit taller than they were. The fear was already locked in place. Even now when they chase him, he often screams involuntarily, which is fine when you are 6 but not so much when you are 25 and in the company of fellow marines. For some reason animals you are afraid of always seem to know this and will chase you no matter how old you are. It’s like you are marked. Similar to how cats always seem to know to jump into the lap of the one house guest who is allergic to them.
In this case, we had to work on helping him release his fear and also let go of the habit of responding to peacocks in an embarrassing way. His response was just as much a habit as his fear was, and I hoped to help him not respond to anything in that way.
The session worked well. I had a few extra passes to the zoo that I wasn’t using to give to him, so his session was basically free. Later, I got an email from him saying he had a great time at the zoo and for once the peacocks left him alone. Several weeks later I went to the zoo myself, and while enjoying a cup of coffee at one of their cafes, a group of peacocks came over to me and one pecked at my foot. My client was right. There are peacocks at the zoo, and they are mean… Stupid peacocks.
Jill Thomas CCHT
Healthy Habits Hypnosis