Universal fears: A tale of a hundred spiders

We cautiously stepped into the dark woods, even though being cautious could not save us from whatever we might face ahead. With each step, I grew more anxious as I knew something was going to happen - it always does - I just didn't know what or when. Without warning, it happened. Starting with one, and growing to what felt like hundreds, spiders spun their webs and dropped down from the trees in front of our faces. We were eye to hundreds of eyes in moments. In the time it took me to recognize what they were and recover from the shock, it became clear that they didn't want to just look at us. With my heart beating like the sound of the loudest clock you can imagine, the big, black spiders spun their webs and dropped to the floor and as they did all of us jumped, panic setting in.

Two very good friends visited me last week and off we went to Universal Studios, Hollywood. I hadn't been before and although I love adrenaline-filled rides, it's the clever attractions that most excite me. Taking a seat in a cinema, then, probably wasn't going to fill me with pure excitement. But how wrong could I be? To avoid giving the game away, I won't tell you the name of the ride, nor any more details of the story or how it is achieved, but I will say this. When you sit in a cinema and see hundreds of spiders - even cartoon ones - coming at you in 3D directly in front of you and then they drop to the floor and you feel them running around your legs, even a spider loving person like me feels their body leave the seat in shock and surprise.

After the ride, I thought long and hard about phobias. There are so many of these intense irrational fears, created from a significant emotional event in the person's past and indeed 80% of people can remember consciously where the phobia came from. There are a lot of people with phobias of spiders, but there is such a broad range of phobias; flying, deep water, birds, snakes, rats, clowns, heights, etc.  Imagine suffering from "anatidaephobia", which is a fear that one is being watched by a duck! Yet it happens. Now, we may know our fear is irrational but that doesn't make it any less problematic for us. There are, however, very effective ways to deal with phobias so if you aren't a fan of your phobia(s), whether it be "dentophobia" (fear of dentists), "geniophobia" (fear of chins), "hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia" (the fear of long words, ironic, right?!), "xanthophobia" (fear of the color yellow or the word yellow), or any other phobia that you have installed in yourself, then you don't have to be at the mercy of it any longer. How would it be for you if that fear no longer stopped you doing what you'd love to do? How valuable would it be for you to be able to travel or to explore the world without fear? Would it make a difference to your life if you could do everything you wanted without fear being a barrier? Perhaps you could then challenge yourself to a visit to Universal Studios, Hollywood, and see if the cinematic experience would make your heart race as much as it did mine.

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