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Irrational Fears, Not so Irrational. But Where do They Come From?


After having worked as a Registered Nurse for 8 years, I decided to become a counselling therapist so that I could help people heal more than the physical alone. Having gone through my own healing journey, I discovered that while talk therapy alone is very helpful, it had limitations. This led me to learn Heart Centered Hypnotherapy, Holy Fire Reiki, Somatic Experiencing, Breathwork and Intuitive Readings, so that I could combine the mind, body and spirit to healing.

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Irrational Fears, Not so Irrational. But Where do They Come From?

Unexplained Fears

Have you ever noticed that you have fears that other people don’t? For example, you might have a fear of flying while others love to travel. The confusing thing is that you might not even understand where the fear is coming from as there may not be any rational explanation for it. There might be a few reasons for this. While it might be hard to pinpoint a particular event that created the fear, there are ways to work through it and to make sense of it.

Making Sense of the Fear

One of the struggles with unexplained is just that; that we may not have an understanding of where it comes from. As humans, we often like to understand why we feel a certain way, as it can help us make meaning of our experience and might help us accept it. However, when we do not have a cognitive memory of why we have a particular fear, there might be ways to make meaning or understand where it comes from. In fact, there is not just one type of memory.

One of the memories that we are familiar with is remembering consciously recalling an event, information, the past or what you did the day before. However, we also have what is called implicit memory, which is memory that might be stored in our bodies or our subconscious and that we are not able to consciously recall. One example of an implicit memory is called procedural memory. This occurs when we ride a bike, as we do not have to think about how to balance it, that we have to put weight on one leg and release the weight from our other leg, and to steer. It is something that is stored in our brain and that we can access anytime that we get on a bike without consciously recalling the steps.

Therefore, working with unexplained fears might require to work with body memories or the subconscious mind in order to make sense of what we are experiencing. Somatic experiencing is a great method that works with body memories as it works with the sensation that our body is communicating to us, rather than the logical stories. For example, while our minds may not know why we are afraid, our bodies will remember that we need to be afraid and will respond appropriately. Hypnotherapy is another great method to work both with body memories and the subconscious.

Possible explanations

While it might be hard to know for sure, some of the places that our unexplained fear may be coming from could be our birth, past lives, epigenetic, or other events that we had similar feelings.

Conception/Birth/Early childhood

Contrary to old beliefs, that babies do not remember their birth, recent research has shown that babies actually can think and feel. Not only that, but our nervous system gets developed at 5 weeks after conception. So while we might not cognitively remember being in the womb and being born, our implicit memories, such as body memories are starting to form. This continues until the age of 17- 18 month, when our hippocampus (the part of the brain that is in charge of conscious memories) comes online. So before then, all of our memories get stored in our bodies and subconscious. This means that it can shape the way we respond to stimuli, such as having a fear of height if we fell down our beds for example. We may not remember the actual event, but we may start to tense up, sweat, and pull back each time we get close to an edge. Dr David Chamberlain is a researcher who did a lot of research on birth memories, and describes how much our birth and conception can impact our current life.

Past Lives

While we do not need to believe in past lives, past life regression can help heal incomprehensible fears. I remember working with someone who had been struggling with an issue that doctors could not explain, as she had done multiple brain scans, blood work, and tests, and everything came back normal. When we did a past life regression, she was able to connect to where the issue was coming from and to understand how it related to her current life. Since the regression, the issue never bothered her again. Now, that being said, this does not mean that it is an ultimate cure for everyone. Nonetheless, many people can experience healing from unexplained fears when exploring past lives. If it does not cure the issue in one session, it can at least provide understanding around the issue. Brian Weiss, who was a psychiatrist and had a client go into a spontaneous past life regression, went on to study them for many years and has many great books on the healing benefits that he discovered.

Other events

Sometimes, unexplained fears could be coming from completely different experiences in our lives. For example, someone who has gone through childhood abuse who might have experienced helplessness, fear and anxiety, can experience the same emotions or body response (fight, flight, freeze, fawn) to a completely different stimuli. This comes from implicit memories, where the conscious mind may not understand the link to a new fear, but the subconscious makes an association to a threat and will respond in the same way that it had as a child. While the event might be different, the feelings will be the same as they were as a child. Finding times that the feelings were the same and bringing healing to that time could help heal present fears. The other thing is that people could be experiencing fears that got passed down from generations to generations.

Working through them

Finding the source of the fear can be healing in its own, because it can help bring understanding to the experience. Not knowing where a fear comes from can create more fear, as we can feel like something is wrong with us. And while making sense of the fear can be healing, it is not required to move it and heal it. Instead, working with the body memories through Somatic Experiencing or hypnotherapy, for example, can help discharge the survival energy that gets activated in the face of a threat so that overtime, the fear lessens. Another method that some people have found useful is EMDR, as it is known to desensitize emotional responses. Something that you can do on your own is to tune into your body when you lightly feel the fear response (not in the middle of intense moments of fear), and ask how old it feels or where it is coming from. Do not judge what comes to you. Then, you can ask what it needs to tell you, what it needs from you, and bring it what it needs.

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