Unless you have really been in the situation and suffered from extreme phobias it can be difficult to understand exactly what a phobia sufferer is going through. We can all read the books, we can all speak to friends and family but the experience of any one individual phobia sufferer is very personal to them. That does not mean you can't learn to live with a phobia sufferer but reading the signals and reacting in a positive manner can make an enormous difference.
Phobia sufferers feel alone
Those who suffer from regular phobias will likely feel an extreme loneliness often thinking their situation is unique and nobody else will ever understand. This is why many phobia sufferers tend to hide their issues from the wider world and very often make excuses when their phobias kick in. Therefore the best thing you can do for any phobia sufferer is to let them know they are not alone, you are there for them as and when they need you.
While just knowing someone is there for you can make a massive difference, when looking to tackle a phobia, there is a time and a place to discuss the phobias. Very often you will need to let the sufferer dictate as and when discussions occur.
Tough love and cuddles
If you see a friend or family member in distress very often the first thought is to cuddle them and console them. While there is no doubt that this action can and does help phobia sufferers in the short-term there will be occasions where you need to administer what some would call "tough love". The problem is that if you do not allow them to tackle their fears head-on then you will become their comfort blanket and you will become their long-term crutch. This can sometimes lead to even more severe phobia attacks if you are not around and they feel even more alone.
While many people may find it difficult to administer so-called "tough love" to family and friends there is a time and place. Can you imagine the mind of a phobia sufferer in full panic mode and what they must be going through? Well, even though on the outside they may appear to be losing control you could be in a situation where they are within touching distance of controlling their phobia. A helpful word, maybe a cold hearted review of the situation, might be the boost that they need to just go that extra step and take control themselves.
Confidence is the key
Research shows us that phobias can have a massive detrimental impact upon the confidence of not only sufferers but also those living with sufferers. The confidence and the strength to challenge a phobia head-on can empower the individual and lead to a massive change in their life. When you are in full panic mode and your phobia is taking over your rational thinking it feels as though this situation will never end, you will never be in control and your phobia will always dictate your life.
Small steps, cuddles and tough love are invaluable in the life and times of a phobia sufferer - what may seem a small step to observers could be a massive leap through the door way back to a more enjoyable life for phobia sufferers.