Tag Archives: Fear of heights

Conquering your fear of heights

Acrophobia is an extreme or unnatural fear of heights.  This is not to be confused with vertigo which is actually a sub-type of dizziness and describes a whirling movement.

Is it natural to have a fear of heights?

Most of us are energised when we are in a high place with little protection.  Perhaps this is, in some way, a natural fear?  Perhaps it is in our genes?  Scientists have done experiments with children in which they are invited to crawl across a sheet of glass called a ‘visual cliff’ with a drop below.  As one might expect the babies show a degree of caution when venturing across.  That said, it appears that one can become quite at home on a rock face, or other high place.

Do I have a phobia of heights?

A natural fear of heights could be considered a phobia when it begins to interfere with normal activities such as going to work in a high rise office, or climbing a ladder.  (Of course, some people have more challenging work conditions than others.)

I believe phobias are created by a significant emotional event in which you are frightened out of your skin.  The frightened you gets locked in time and the dominant you becomes frightened of the fear itself.  The sudden nature of the fear can make a phobia quite tricky to budge with will power alone.  Luckily they can usually be treated quite successfully using a variety of techniques by a therapist such as myself.

How can I improve my head for heights?

If you reckon you’ve got a reasonable head for heights then I challenge you to watch the following video and notice if any emotions arise for you.

If you do feel any sensations then rather than looking away or contracting around them I would suggest that you:

  • Continue to watch
  • Relax your body
  • Breathe deeply
  • Breathe into the part of your body that is tense (probably your stomach)
  • Make noises on your out-breath (sighs, groans, etc)

This exercise will trigger and move any trapped energy and allow you to become even more centred.  Good luck!

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Phobia of psychologists!

Are you terrified at even the thought of something?  Spiders, injections, flying, heights, crowds, confined spaces?  Does the fear manifest itself into physical symptoms?  Does the fear of your fear prevent you from doing certain things or going to certain places?

Phobias and panic attacks are intense fears and stress reactions which occur as a response to very specific triggers.  They often stem from a single and highly traumatic experience and are your emotional body’s way of trying to keep you safe.  The irony is that the panic and terror can reduce your ability to take appropriate action – actually putting you in far more danger.

Unlike ‘exposure therapy’ (that puts a person into the situation that they are reacting to until they can manage their emotions or, perhaps, develop a phobia of psychologists!) my approach is to work with the source of the reactions and is designed to be as comfortable as possible at all times.  It will help you to have the benefits of awareness without the negative consequences.  You may not actually like the thing you used to dread but you will have regained a sense of perspective and have more choices available to you.