Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
I finished my blog last week by thinking about the Wizard of Oz. It’s a while since I watched the movie but as I recall the Wizard is frightening character, never seen, but with a loud booming voice of authority. It is Toto the dog, I think, who exposes the wizard as an insignificant little man who is just putting on a show – a fake.
The Wizard himself, then, is not frightening – it is peoples’ idea of the Wizard that frightens them. They hear the loud voice, they are taken in by the pretence, and their imagination does the rest – he becomes a fearsome figure that they cannot approach. Once the truth becomes apparent, the Wizard immediately loses his power.
It is often like this with our personal fears. I remember that, as a child, I was scared of moths. I was afraid that one would fly into my eye, and hated having a moth in my bedroom at night. Now, a moth had never flown into my eye then, and never has since. Indeed I have never heard of a moth flying into anyone’s eye and I’m really not at all sure how that could ever happen. The occurrence I feared wasn’t real, the danger existed in my imagination, not in fact.
Often we avoid our fears. If we are scared of flying, we travel overland – if we are scared of confrontation, we agree to things we’d rather not agree to – if we fear being alone, we build a busy social life. This avoidance reduces the amount of exposure we have to frightening or difficult situations, but at the same time it makes those things all the more scary. The Wizard of Oz’s power grew because he was never seen in person, and facts were replaced by stories, by mythology about him. Our fears are the same, the less experience them the more their power grows. We can become afraid of the fear, rather than of the moth – afraid of the shadow, rather than the dog. Once we face up to our fears, they start to become less daunting.
In the example of the Wizard of Oz, he lost his power immediately once he was seen. It’s not necessarily quite that simple when it comes to our personal fears – it can take time to work through them, to gain control over them. The starting point is to recognise and to be able to talk about them. They like to hide away in dark corners of our minds, they don’t like being brought out into the open, and when we start to do that, by talking about them, they will kick and scream like a difficult child. They will have a tantrum to try to create panic in us – to regain their power – and it may be that we can only confront them for short periods at first. This will become easier the more we do it.
We can’t necessarily get rid of our fears – I still don’t much like moths – but the more we talk about them, the more we understand them, and the more we gain control of them. We can learn to manage our fears if we are prepared to confront them and take the power away from them.
We’re off to see the wizard!