Everyone fears something. It could be a cockroach or something as profound as death. There are fears that everyone can relate to, and there are those that not everyone can understand. It’s only the person who actually has the phobia who realizes its gravity.
No one else can even begin to comprehend the stress, anxiousness and frustration that a phobia can bring with it. One such seemingly uncommon, but surely prevalent phobia is that of color.
People who have a fear of color tend to steer away from all colors, and surround themselves only in a black-and-white environment; or if they are phobic of just one color, avoid that color altogether. This post will attempt to help those who have this fear of color by suggesting some natural ways to handle it.
Types of Fear of Color
Given here is a list of the colors that most chromophobics are prone to be distressed with.
- Blue: Cyanophobia
- Red: Ereuthrophobia, Erythrophobia, Erytophobia
- Black: Melanophobia
- Purple: Porphyrophobia
- Yellow: Xanthophobia
- Green: Chlorophobia
- White: Leukophobia
How to Overcome Fear of Color
The fear of color, like any other fear, must be handled with sensitivity. The causes of this fear may be varied. It could stem from a traumatic experience during childhood; for example, a child being bitten by red ants, while admiring a bright yellow flower.
The child, in the agony of the ant bites, may begin to subconsciously or consciously, relate the color/s red and/or yellow to the pain that the bites brought him, and thus become averse to exposure to anything in those colors.
The example given is very simple, but can be the case sometimes. There are other incidents and experiences that can trigger off association of colors with other things that are feared by that person, thus making him fear the color itself. For instance, a person who is afraid of death may be afraid of the color black as well.
General association of color with unfavorable conditions like red for danger, yellow for caution, can also play a role in influencing the perception of the color. Apart from psychological reasons, there can also be purely medical reasons that can trigger off a fear of color.
Mental illnesses in varied degrees may also cause fear of color(s). In the further sections, we’ll tell you how you can try to manage the fear and apprehension that you feel for a color by providing you with some simple, natural ways to deal with them.
*The methods given in this post are not to be used as a substitute for professional therapeutic assistance or medication.
Talk About It
Communication, some say, is the lifeline of survival. John Donne’s aptly worded quote ‘no man is an island’, is something that no one can refute. The need to be able to share one’s life with others around him is one of the primal needs of human nature.
It is this ability to communicate that helps people cope with a lot of distressing situations that life brings upon them. Coping with a phobia is one such situation that needs the help of another person in order to be complete.
When it comes to conquering the fear of color, it is a process that must be handled with utmost care and precision. Here are some guidelines that you can follow to either cope with the fear, or help someone you know cope with it.
- First, prepare yourself to be open to the idea of talking about your anxiety. Chromophobia is not something to be ashamed of, and you’re not the only person who experiences it.
- When you’re ready to face the issue, pick for yourself one person you trust completely – a person you can share your fears, anxiety and apprehensions with.
- Tell this person about your phobia in detail. Talk about what makes you anxious. Is it the color in any form, or is it some particular form that triggers a panic attack?
- Talk about the past and try to figure out what caused you to begin fearing the color so strongly.
- Identifying the cause of the fear is the most important step to understanding how to cope with it.
- Try and remember the first time you were overwhelmed by fear on coming in contact with the color. It could be something that happened to you as a child which has left a subconscious impact, making you associate the color with the traumatic experience.
Helping Someone Cope
- When someone approaches you for help regarding chromophobia, you must remember that it may seem like nothing to you, but can cause severe panic attacks, distress and anxiety attacks to the person concerned.
- So, the first thing that you need to do, is keep your mind open and objective. Be sensitive and non-judgmental towards the person. He has chosen you because he has faith in you. Do not disappoint him.
- Once you’ve been briefed about the person’s phobia, make it a point to have regular conversations with him about the fear itself. Be gentle, don’t push. The fear causes a lot of stress to the person, and by constantly nagging him, you may worsen the situation.
- Importantly, when you know that a specific color bothers the person, avoid places that display the color prominently. If the person fears the color red, think twice before taking him to a Mexican themed restaurant. Don’t go overboard but try as much as you can to see that the person doesn’t encounter the color he fears, until he is ready to face it.
- When eliminating exposure to the color the person fears, begin the process of helping him gradually face it. Identifying the cause of the fear, talk to the person through it and show him that there’s nothing to fear, and there is less probability that the experience will repeat itself. Reassure him, so that he sees reason and is willing to face his fear.
- When he finally relents and is ready to face it, begin by making small changes. Gradually begin to incorporate the color that he is afraid of, and note his behavior. If he seems tense, ask him to practice techniques to calm himself down. You will see that slowly and steadily, he will begin to relax and will be able to deal with the anxiety in a better way.
- Once you see that he is a little comfortable around the color, you can begin increasing the density of color in the objects around him and help him conquer the fear of the color.
Get Away From It
Once you’ve decided to overcome the fear of color that you have, there’s little that can stop you from doing it. In the given section, we told you how you can, with the help of another person, face your fear and gradually get rid of it.
But there’s no guarantee that the person will always be around to make sure that you do not come face-to-face with the color you dread until you’re ready to do it. You’re bound to come across the color in varying proportions in your day-to-day life. Hence, it makes sense to know how to deal with the stress that you feel when you’re exposed to the color.
One of the best ways to do this is to physically get away from the site of the stress (in this case, the vicinity of the color). Move away from the area and change what you were doing to something totally different.
For instance, if you were reading a book in a café when you saw the color and started feeling an oncoming anxiety attack, simply pick up the book, and walk out of the place. Once out, take purposeful steps, and focus on nothing but your pace. If you’re at home, just begin a light workout, or go out for a run.
Physical exercise works in a beneficial manner by helping you to take the focus off the fear, and onto the energy required to perform the exercise. This way, you think less of the fear and slowly begin to erase it from your mind.
Block It Out
Apart from the physical shift of focus, you also need to make a conscious effort to block out the color from your mind. Since the color triggers off negative emotions and reactions, you should try to counter it with the exact opposite. Try to think happy thoughts and about things that bring joy to you. The natural reflex to happy thoughts is to relax.
If you wish, you can also pick one particular memory that makes you happy and use it to relax your mind whenever you feel a color-driven panic attack coming on. Another option you can choose is to pick a memory that makes you feel extremely calm and composed, even in the most stressful situations. Everyone has at least one of these.
Conjure the memory in your mind and strictly focus only on it. It will help soothe your mind and you’ll ease out of the tension. The purpose of a relaxation technique is to make the part of your brain that responds to fear less active, and to make the part that responds to logic more prominent.
When logic gets more prominence, it helps the brain to easily identify that the color does not mean harm, and that there is nothing to fear. Simple meditation techniques like deep breathing and number counting can also help you to shift your focus from the distressing color.
Other Ways to Deal with the Fear
Apart from the ones mentioned, there are other ways to conquer the fear of color. Aromatherapy has proven to render a calming effect on the mind. So, you can indulge in an aromatherapy bath or massage in times of stress.
You can also keep various objects revolving around aromatherapy in your immediate surrounding. Potpourri, scented candles, essential oils, camphor, incense, etc. are all very effective in creating and maintaining a calm and composed atmosphere. This will make you less prone to panic attacks, or at least reduce their severity.
For instance, you can use jasmine to create a fragrant and calm atmosphere at home. Lavender, bergamot, patchouli, and sandalwood are all fragrances that can soothe the nerves and alleviate stress and frustration.
Another thing that you can do to reduce the intensity of an attack, is to consume the right kind of food and avoid the wrong ones. For instance, you can consume green tea, fish oil, mushrooms, and avocado to help combat anxiety and stress.
At the same time, you’ll need to avoid foods that could worsen the situation for you. Garlic, alcohol, refined sugar, spicy foods, red meat, and caffeine, are all foods that can boost anxiety levels; so steer clear of them if you know that there are chances of a color-initiated panic attack.
In addition to the techniques and methods mentioned here, you can always take professional assistance of a trained psychotherapist to overcome your fear of color. You may consider it a substitute for these methods, or a complement. You are the best judge of the intensity of your fear, so pick the option that you feel will help you the most.
A Japanese proverb aptly describes that, ‘Fear is only as deep as the mind allows’. Remember this wise quote and put it to practice while fighting your way out of the fear of color. The world would be meaningless without color. Slowly and steadily, come out of your shell and view this masterpiece with a brave and fearless heart.