I have enjoyed watching some episodes of Bear Grylls’ Breaking Point, where he takes people with phobias into the wilderness, and helps them overcome their fears.
What he is doing is very similar to behavioral or exposure therapy. He does it quite well and with kindness. And it does seem to work. (He says he is inviting them to do what he would do if he had those fears.)
What’s not shown, although it’s implied, is that these people are ready. They have voluntarily applied to be part of the TV series. They have been selected out of hundreds of applicants. Some of them have gone through years of therapy. They are ready. What Bear Grylls is doing with them is the finishing touches.
He is having them go out and actually do what they are afraid of. He has them face their fears, and do it anyway. And that’s a hugely important component.
Also, after they come home, I assume most of them will have to overcome their fears again and again, on a daily basis. As that becomes a new habit, it does become easier. And the fears may even go away completely.
For some, it’s easy to take refuge in therapy, inquiry, analysis or similar mind work. We can feel that it’s enough. That we are done. Or that it’s safer to explore things in the mind than actually go out and doing it. I know that for myself.
What’s the remedy? To actually do it. And that can be much easier if we enlist support from someone who can help us – with some skill and kindness – to actually do it.
Note: I initially wrote “phobias and trauma” because phobias do seem rooted in trauma. Just about any of our psychological challenges may be rooted in trauma, whether it’s the classic type of one clear traumatic event, or the more common one of trauma from repeated or ongoing events such as neglect, bullying, feeling unloved, quarreling parents, or a wide range of other things.
These are ongoing situations that often come into our lives due to the unresolved trauma of others. They were exposed to something like that. Were traumatized from it. And then behave in a reactive way to their own trauma, which may create trauma in others. It’s often passed on through generations.
– what’s not shown
— people are ready, selected out of hundreds of applicants
— some have been in therapy for years
– the finishing touch, actually doing it
– very important component (for some, can take refuge in therapy, inquiry etc.)