My Three Step Plan to Overcoming a Phobia by Lisa Michelle Friedberg

Have you ever had an actual phobia? Not just a fear of airplane turbulence or being stuck in an elevator – but truly beyond terrified of something that alters your state of mind?  Has it interrupted your ability to do simple tasks that you want to, or even need to do?

Unfortunately, I grew up with a phobia of dogs (sorry four-legged friends!) and have outlined a three-step plan to recover. I hope it helps you too!  My phobia of dogs was so intense that as a teenager I would avoid slumber parties if a dog were at the house.  Even seeing an owner walking a dog down the street from a distance with a leash would cause me move to the other side of the street.Overcoming Phobia Pic

Since this plan worked for me, it could certainly work for others.  Hence, if you have a phobia, there is a way out!  Your phobia recovery will take courage, dedication, effort, and giving your all into believing!  If you have a phobia and want to overcome, it is life changing!  However, you will have to be honest with yourself and dig deep – you must truly want to overcome it.

I wrote this recipe for success in three simple steps that helped me with dogs. Yes, even cute little adorable cuddly ones that I know mean no harm.

Step 1) Be honest with yourself and others, don’t be ashamed of your phobia.  Trust me; easier said than done, as you well know. It’s embarrassing for you to admit to others that you are really terrified of something that most would never believe how you could possibly be, “that petrified” of.  In most cases, it is probably something so harmless in most of the world’s eyes.

Step 2) Once you’ve admitted this to yourself, take charge!  I woke up one day and researched the closest no kill animal shelter that I could find. After much research, my fiancée and I walked into the shelter with the determination to foster a dog for only 3 weeks (baby steps!) to see if it was possible to be around a dog and care for one.

Once walking through the shelter, I felt overwhelmed by all the barking and jumping inside the cages – so I decided to leave. On the way out, we both stopped abruptly and stared at the only puppy in the shelter.  She was so tiny, staring up at us calmly with those cliché “puppy dog” eyes while another dog was beating up on her. A shelter volunteer walked up to us and said, “I’ve seen that look before, would you like to hold her?” He took us into a large separate room, placed her on my lap, and within 10 minutes the paperwork was completed and Lola had a forever home. She chose me.

Step 3) As we walked out my fiancée handed me Lola (I didn’t even know how to hold her!) and said, “here, you hold her.  You have a dog now.”  I was shaking and grabbed her, the best way I knew, terrified that she would bite me on the way home.  I was clueless of how to care for a dog!  Once we arrived home, I contemplated for hours on whether or not I should take her back to the shelter.  Then I realized that this little animal was completely harmless and that I needed her just as much as she needed me.  Therefore, I took “the dog by the horns”, went on YouTube and trained her “to a T”.  I even had my fiancée help me put my hand inside her mouth to prove that she would not bite me.  Within 2 weeks, this puppy was trained (in the middle of winter in Chicago)!  She saved my life, and I saved hers. Looking back it is the biggest accomplishment of my life.

If you truly have a phobia, you will need very ambitious courage to overcome it. There are many ways to overcome phobias but I learned through this process that you do not necessarily need professional help – you can overcome it on your own if you build up enough courage. Today is Lola’s 3rd birthday and I sang to her, partly to celebrate her day, but partly to celebrate the long journey of overcoming my deepest phobia of dogs.


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