Any advice on tackling Fear of Heights?

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Any advice on tackling Fear of Heights?

by dovber » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:09 pm

I am 32yrs old and never had a problem with heights until around 5 years ago when I climbed a tower in central Lnodon and had a sudden bout of terror stricken fear of heights. SInce then, I can't bear even the thought of being on the balcony of a tall building.
I love the outdoors and would love to go climbing with my friends but get freaked out at the sign of a sheer drop.
Does anyone have any advice on how to beat this fear?

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Re: Any advice on tackling Fear of Heights?

by surgent » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:58 pm

Can you expose yourself to heights in a safe, controlled manner, e.g. in an enclosed building, how do you feel standing near a window? What about sitting on a balcony instead of standing. The idea would be to systematically expose yourself to heights and overcome the fear incrementally. If your fear is a true phobia, then you may need the help of a trained therapist. However, since this fear came about just 5 years ago, you know there was a time in your life when you didn't have this fear, or at least have it manifest itself as a panic attack.

My wife suffered from a fear of heights and little by little beat it by going "one step further" each hike. It took her a long time and even now she'll need to think and talk her way through a tricky spot. It won't be easy, but you will find the fear diminishes as you come to understand it more.

I was utterly terrified the first time I rappeled. The guys I was with set up a small rappel station on a small (10-foot) ledge until I overcame the fear itself. After that, it was a lot easier. Maybe you can try bouldering or climbs in a controlled setting (a gym), and when the fear kicks in, mentally talk yourself through it.

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Re: Any advice on tackling Fear of Heights?

by Maranna » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:38 pm

I was in your same shoes. I am a little bit older than you, but i remember the day that my fear of heights manifested itself. After 45 years, I decided to do something about it. Going over suspension bridges, certain climbs, and tall bridges were the worst. Irrational fears too. People are surprised when I tell them I went to a psychologist and she used hypnotism to help me overcome my irrational fears. I would say I am 95% better and any remaining fears are rational and what most "normal" people experience. It was huge for me. Hypnosis was not a "you are getting sleepy and a snap of the fingers" I was instructed in how to get into a state of mind that was relaxed and open to my own thoughts. Some people can get into this state better than others. The psychologist walked me through some early experiences while I was in this state. I also came up with "copping narratives" that are logical thoughts I repeat to myself when I need to displace irrational fears. ("Bart, there is absolutely no way you can fall off this bridge. Enjoy the sights and engineering that went into the bridge.") I practice getting into this "state" on my own frequently in the beginning, training myself. Much less frequent now. Normally only before I know something will be coming up that would have caused me problems in the past. The whole process really helped my change a behavior.

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Re: Any advice on tackling Fear of Heights?

by silversummit » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:09 pm

Maranna and dovber- My husband did the same thing many years ago. He developed a fear of driving over bridges in particular. This was a real problem for him since we owned a boat at the time and live near the Chesapeake Bay. To go crabbing and fishing he had to cross bridges, some of them very high, so this fear practically shut him down for months. Finally he went to a hypnotherapist too who helped him greatly reduce his fears. It worked well and only required a couple 'refresher sessions' two years ago. Note: for some reason though the therapy has not been able to reduce his fears of driving through long tunnels. We do know that these two fears resulted from two very different experiences so when we are approaching long tunnels I drive!

Good luck and I really think hypnosis is worth a shot. Ask around as my husband did; there seem to be specialists in different types of problems.

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Re: Any advice on tackling Fear of Heights?

by peninsula » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:18 pm

I can be rendered useless and endangered by my fear of heights. It is the reason I don't rope climb, I cannot help but feel an irrational tug when coping with sheer drop offs. I have been like this since my earliest days of memory, but it has not kept me from exploring the vast and high reaches of the Sierra Nevada, although it has tempered my approach. I go into a certain modus operandi when confronted with what becomes a literally dizzying fear of heights; I remain patient and stay focused (not easy when combatting an involuntary and nearly overwhelming rush of adrenaline), and I will not look down (easier said than done). I find this an easy enough task when encountering driving situations. My greatest challenge is coping with sheer drop offs while mountaineering. I have never sought any therapy for my acrophobia, and I am of a mindset there is no therapy for my innate affliction. I recognize therapy of one modality or another could prove effective for others, but I have no intention to seek therapy myself.

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Re: Any advice on tackling Fear of Heights?

by woodsxc » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:29 pm

Climb on top rope. Bite the bullet.

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