I’m afraid of the dark, how can I overcome my fear?
Going to bed will soon become a pleasure again…
I’m too old to believe in monsters
It’s hardly a scoop, the fear of the dark is common among children. An overactive imagination leads them to think that there is a horrible creature hiding under their bed. They may have also been told that if they’re not good, a monster will come at them out of the closet. 28 years later, I’m aware that I have to bring myself back to the present and reassure myself rationally. But the night terrors persist… Am I an eternal child? Or an adult who hasn’t learned to calm herself down because she didn’t gather the necessary weapons?
😱 This feeling of emptiness makes me anxious; this feeling of isolation makes me think that nobody will come to my rescue if something bad were to happen to me. I feel distressed, as if my survival instinct is forcing me to be scared of the dark for the rest of my life.
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The dark is not known to be reassuring
Nobody watches a horror film at 3pm with the lights on – on the contrary! We deliberately immerse ourselves in darkness to create a gloomy atmosphere, in which we don’t see the potential dangers that could surprise us and make us vulnerable. The dark, represented by nighttime, is associated with danger. This fear is deeply rooted in all cultures that have been studied. Add to this the association of ideas that my subconscious records so well… No wonder I have this phobia. In my mind, just like in yours, criminals often act in the dark. Darkness is emptiness, and it appeals to the fear of death, this unknown state that frightens the human race…
➡ Darkness can also take me back to old traumas, as I’m alone and vulnerable and feel like I’m reliving an assault, a burglary or any other painful memory…
Did you know? You’re not alone!
According to a recent study of 2,000 people, 40 % admitted they were scared of walking alone in their homes at night. 10 % don’t even dare to get up to go to the restroom.
Using your other senses to tame the darkness
What is also frightening about the dark is the absence of points of reference. Unable to see, I don’t know what’s going on in my house. And if instead of running to the closest light switch, I just breathed calmly? What if I used my other senses to find my bearings and to reassure myself? It’s normal for my flat or house to make certain noises that don’t belong to an evil visitor. By concentrating on my hearing, for example, I can learn to recognize the creaking of the floorboards, the humming of the fridge or even the slamming of the shutters from close by and from a distance.
A suspicious noise always has a rational explanation. So, I can use these kinds of arguments to tame the darkness. Thanks to this type of exercise, I will gradually regain my confidence!
> Check out the 10 most unusual phobias
Note: Don’t feed the fear
Listening to your fear is ruling in its favor. Leaving a light on may be a relief, but it confirms the fact that the dark is dangerous.
Editor’s note: The fear of the dark isn’t insurmountable
Whether it’s deeply rooted or not, this fear can be desensitized. Many psychologists have studied the issue (the proof that this fear is common and is nothing to be ashamed of 😉). Here are some of their solutions:
➡ Luis Véra, psychotherapist, advises you tame the dark progressively
“Sit for a few minutes in relative darkness. Breathe and come to realize that nothing bad is happening to you. Repeat the exercise, increasing the length of time and the intensity of the darkness.”
➡ Paul Denis, psychoanalyst, invites us to fill our heads with nice images
“Read a book before going to sleep. This will occupy your mind and relax you. You can also think about your holiday plans: filling your head with positive images stops you from giving in to panic.”
➡ Béatrice Copper-Royer, psychologist, favors introspection
“Ask yourself, alone or with a therapist, have I ever had a scary night? What was bedtime like as a child? Tracing your fears allows you to alleviate them. Understanding where they come from allows you to treat them, alone or with a therapist.”
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