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Not So Scary After All: How to Overcome a Fear of Spiders

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I used to be afraid of spiders but managed to overcome my fear with the help of my brave son.

Theodore, a Male Lynx Spider

Theodore, a Male Lynx Spider

Does this sound familiar to you? There you are, going about your day, minding your own business; but suddenly something catches your attention out of the corner of your eye. You saw something move!

As quickly as you can, you turn to see what it was, fearing the worst. There it is! You see it! The eight-legged creature of your worst nightmares. It's a big one. Is that fur? And it's looking at you! Your heart is already beating in terror, and you let out a scream. If you're lucky, someone is with you, and can kill it for you. If not, then you must figure out how to dispose of it yourself.

Then, *that* feeling takes over! You can feel the spider crawling on your skin. You slap at it. Then you feel it in another place. That spider must die for you to stop feeling this way. Even then, though, the feeling will linger for a long time, because you are certain it probably brought a few friends for the party.

Arachnophobia Is Quite Common

If you experience this extreme reaction to spiders, I want you to know that you are not alone. Arachnophobia is incredibly common. If you are like I was, you might also believe that there is no hope that your fear could ever improve. Perhaps you don't even have a desire for it to, or to change your spider-squishing ways.

I would like to share with you, however, that you can overcome this overwhelming feeling. I am living proof of that. In the previous section, I was sharing my own reaction when I saw a spider creeping along in my home. But now when I see a spider, I catch it and show it to my children!

This guide is designed to help you overcome your fear of spiders through motivation and education.

Fast Guide to Overcoming Arachnophobia

  1. Motivation, inspiration, and a desire to change.
  2. Education.
  3. Curiosity, fascination, and continued education.
A Large Female Wolf Spider

A Large Female Wolf Spider

The Motivation Needed to Desire Change

One afternoon, I saw a little spider crawling on my ceiling. My husband was gone, so I put on my brave face and grabbed my broom. My son happened to be with me, and he got very excited when he saw the commotion. He began begging me to not kill it. I was stunned! I could not believe my own child was trying to convince me not to kill a spider! I tried patiently explaining to him that there was nothing wrong at all with killing it, but he became more and more upset. When I took the handle to the spider to squish it, I saw him slump in defeat.

That defeat did not last long, however. When I pulled the broom handle down to look at it, my son and I noticed that I had not succeeded in killing it. It turned out that the handle to my broom was missing the end piece, and I had only knocked him inside. As I was looking at my son, who was now jumping with joy, I could not bare to cause him the disappointment again. So I handed him the broom, and allowed him to take it outside to release.

That was the moment that my outlook began to change. This is the first step to overcoming arachnophobia. For while I now believe that anyone can, I also recognize that a person must first have the desire and motivation to do so. Without the will power, no one is going to attempt to change anything about their lives. This certainly holds true for a person's outlook on spiders.

Bernie, a Male Spitting Spider. May you RIP.

Bernie, a Male Spitting Spider. May you RIP.

Shifting Views

As I first began to change, I put my son in charge of spider removal. I learned that I could allow it to live outside, and I stopped getting the creepy crawly feeling that had once overwhelmed me.

The second big shift in my fear level came late one night when I saw another spider sitting on my ceiling. Everyone else in the house was asleep. I could have gotten away with killing it without a complaint from anyone, but instead I decided to grab a jar. I was very unsure, but bravely trapped the spider and put the lid on.

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This spider became our very first pet spider! He turned out to be a spitting spider that my son affectionately named Bernie. Catching Bernie is what helped me to find the second key in overcoming a fear of spiders.

Ghostzilla, a Female Bold Jumping Spider (Isn't she cute!?)

Ghostzilla, a Female Bold Jumping Spider (Isn't she cute!?)

Education Is Vital

The most important key to overcoming a fear of spiders is education. When my son became ecstatic that I had done this for him, I simply did not have the heart to tell him that he could not keep it. Keeping any pet requires that you learn about them in order to care for them well and keep them alive. I quickly learned that spiders are not always so easy to care for. Some require more work than others, and some cannot be kept as pets at all because of the types of webs that they need to build.

I also learned that I did not have anything to fear at all from most spiders. I came face to face with the fact that many ideas that I had about them were false. For example, above I described how I was certain that when I saw a spider, that there had to be more of his friends hiding somewhere close by. It turns out that most spiders that come inside are actually "wandering males," looking for a partner to mate with. They don't bring friends, and they don't have parties. And while most species are venomous, either their venom is not harmful to humans; or their fangs are too small and weak to penetrate our skin. Even the black widow is not as scary as I once thought it to be. Only the mature female produces enough venom to be harmful, and the little spiderling's fangs can't puncture you anyway.

Northern Black Widow and Babies

Northern Black Widow and Babies

Julia, a Female Parasteatoda

Julia, a Female Parasteatoda

Curiosity and Fascination Inspire More Education

Education inspires fascination and curiosity. These two elements are also key to overcoming arachnophobia. The more I learned about Bernie, and our new additions of Ghostzilla, the Bold Jumping Spider, and Julia, the baby-factory Parasteatoda, the more excited I became about learning even more.

I began to face decades-old fears of specific spider species, such as the wolf spider, black widows, and the brown recluse. I began catching spiders with no fear at all, and even holding them with the jar lid, or a paper towel. I had no problem with removing the lid and getting up close so I could capture video or photographs of them that I could share with others who enjoy looking at spiders. Helping my son develop his interest and curiosity towards a creature I once feared had quickly become an enjoyable part of my life.

Be Brave, I Dare You!

I would now encourage anyone that I meet to reconsider their feelings towards spiders. It turns out that they are not so scary after all! They are fascinating creatures and, if welcomed into your life, they can even be beneficial.

Think about all they are doing for you right now. Have you thought about how many insects these creatures have killed for you? They are a vital part of our ecosystem, and help keep other little creature's populations in balance.

So go ahead, I dare you to give them a second chance. You might be surprised at all of the things you learn if you simply face your fears. Be brave! You can do this!


Autumn Matthews on August 25, 2016:

Love this!!!! What a great article!

LJ Scott from Phoenix, Az. on August 24, 2016:

I never thought spiders could be soooo interesting... thank you !!! Great Hub!!!

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