This petrifying fear is a lot more common in Western societies than it is in the East.
It’s likelier for women to suffer from arachnophobia than for men – about 55% of Western women have symptoms of it, compared to 18% of males. Arachnophobia is the most common kind of phobia in the UK.
What is Arachnophobia?
Arachnophobia is the extreme irrational fear of spiders. In each person, it has different intensity and sometimes can surface only in certain situations.
Why are we scared of spiders?
It’s completely normal to see a spider and get the urge to keep your distance. It means you have the right reactions of a healthy evolved human being.
On an evolutionary level, prehistoric people spent thousands of years living in the wild in a spider-infested environment. Many of these spiders were poisonous and many people have died from spider bites.
Instinctive fear from a certain shape of animal can protect us, as it keeps us away from a potentially dangerous arachnid. It’s how every type of phobia evolves.
Do I have arachnophobia?
As you see, just being uneasy towards spiders, is completely normal. In order to classify a certain fear as a phobia, your symptoms need to be a lot more visible.
And, since the levels of intensity of arachnophobia are fuzzy and don’t have certain boundaries, it’s best to test yourself in order to be sure.
Why Spiders Aren’t Scary (unless they are)
We established the fear of spiders is a completely healthy one, however, if this fear is in the way of your daily life, you might need to do something about it.
Knowledge is power, and the easiest thing you can do to overcome your arachnophobia is to educate yourself as much as possible.
Here are a few curious facts about spiders.
- The venom of some species of spiders is seriously deadly, but if you live in a city – you can be 99.9% certain, you will not find these spiders around you.
- Even the most venomous spider would not attack you. Have you seen how big you are? A tiny spider would never come close to you.
- Spiders are not interested in you. Unlike flying insects that would buzz around your head or try to suck your blood, spiders have no motivation to go out of their webs. If you see a spider crawling, it’s only because it probably fell and is trying to get back to its web.
- Spiders are the best pest controllers in the world – they eat more insects than birds and bats put together. They are used by gardeners to eat vegetable-eating pests, instead of using pesticides.
- Spiders eat so many bugs a day, they actually decrease insect populations. If it weren’t for them, we’ll be up to our necks in bugs and spiders definitely wouldn’t be the source of your fear.
- There are also a species of vegetarian spiders.
Knowing these things is the first step to get over your fears. Next, we will list a series of activities you can do yourself in order to “train your mind”.
How to Get Over Arachnophobia
- Make a list of activities with increasing anxiety level. One of the best ways to do overcome your arachnophobia is to take yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Start with looking at a photo of a real spider. Look at it, notice the details of it. Imagine it crawl, and make its web.
- Watch a video about spiders. Something educational would show you the life of a spider in the wild. It would look like a savage existence, but through the whole video, keep reminding yourself how small these creatures are.
- Visit a pet store and watch a spider behind glass. Here comes something scarier – a real living spider, right in front of you. Yet, confined by the strong glass, so you are completely safe. Look at it for a while. Spiders in aquariums are usually quite lazy, so don’t be surprised if they barely move.
- Let a friend handle a spider in front of you. It should be someone you trust, someone who would not mock your fears, or do something you’re not ready for. Watch them hold the spider and see it crawl on skin.
- Tolerate being around a spider. Let your friend put the spider on a table and sit near that spider. Don’t touch it, just be close to it and watch it.
- Hold a spider. Finally, the biggest challenge of all would be to let the spider crawl on your hand. You can choose when that would happen. Don’t rush it if you don’t feel brave enough. Focus on the idea that you have more control over the spider’s life than it has over your life.
- Talk to a specialist. If you find yourself unable to make progress by yourself, yet feel you need to work on your fear, turn to a certified psychologist.
How to Understand Your Fear of Spiders
- Determine the origin of your fear. In most cases, the fear of spiders is inborn, like we said – it’s a part of our evolution. However, very often an acute feat would result from a personal experience. Very often this experience would be forgotten. It might be in early childhood, or even earlier. The logical memory of the event might be forgotten, but the emotion behind it would stay lingering. And, at some point it gets triggered by the sight of a spider and it re-surfaces as an irrational fear. Try to remember when it first started for you.
- Dwell on why you are so scared. We often need alone time to think about what happened in our past. Especially when it comes to something that can’t leave us alone even as adults. Think about your fear, remember the first time you felt it and evaluate your state of mind then and now. You will reach a conclusion.
- Learn more about spiders. Find the positive benefits of their existence and dispel myths and urban legends about them. Learn about their behaviour. Put yourself in their skin and think about “If I were a spider, I would…”. Sometimes, something like this is enough to understand that they’re not born to get you.
- Use positive self-talk. If thinking all this is not enough for you, try saying it out loud, so you can hear yourself. Make sure you then use only positive words, do not concentrate on the negative things about them (like their appearance).
No fear can be beaten in a day, so take it step by step. Until then, keep Fantastic Pest control on speed dial in order to keep your home spider free.
Image source: Cornel Constantin/shutterstock.com