Last month, we faced one of the most daunting, yet fun 43 year custard phobia challenge on This Morning.
Michelle’s custard phobia and her two appearances on the show went viral.
If you didn’t catch it, here’s some links:
Michelle called us on the show back in January 2022 for our live phone-in. Her call hit every national newspaper, with even Zoe Ball dedicating her BBC Radio 2 breakfast show the following day to phobias. Zoe frequently replayed Michelle’s severe phobic response of retching. It was clear Michelle couldn’t even say, hear, or think about the word CUSTARD, without heaving.
LIVE PHONE IN – Custard Phobia
On the phone-in, Michelle offered us a challenge, suggesting if we cure her “yellow stuff” phobia, she would get in a bath of the it!
We met Michelle in a local Asda with our film crew, and were shocked to see Michelle physically vomit down a number of supermarket aisles, just from seeing the word on tins from a distance.
Despite her story being amusing for so many, Michelle reaffirmed just how difficult and intrusive living with a phobia can be. We hadn’t considered before meeting her that her issue meant she struggled so much. She struggled in restaurants, parties, family dinners, going in any supermarkets or shops. Michelle’s story further highlighted to us the impact and implications of trauma. You may have heard us say that we have identified all anxieties originate from trauma.
Michelle’s trauma was being force fed lumpy custard by nuns at her Catholic primary school, at the age of 6. She said it had powdery lumps, that felt like sand in her mouth. Despite it making her physically sick, and even her father speaking to the school it still happened. The nuns continued to grab her by her hair, pull her head back, and force-feed her with custard.
Thankfully, Michelle’s parents soon removed her from that school, however she was left with a lifelong terror of custard, following the trauma she endured.
THE CURE – Custard Phobia
So, how did we cure Michelle, in less than 15 minutes?
Of course as always, we used our 5-step formula which we shared with you at our workshops.
When did it start?
Age 6 at Catholic school.
How did she perceive it?
Custard made her feel scared, anxious and made her vomit.
Apply contrary evidence.
We knew it was highly likely that prior to the age of 6, Michelle would have eaten custard. We even pointed out to her that her refusal to eat the lumpy custard was likely, because she had a comparison of what custard should taste like. Suffice to say, Michelle’s mind was blown.
She couldn’t speak for maybe 30 seconds and then, Michelle had a huge realisation of wonderful memories she had locked away. She had eaten custard before attending Catholic school, and more importantly, she had enjoyed it. This realisation brought with it a flood of tears and happy memories, as she recalled being at her lovely grandma’s house, eating jam roly-poly and custard, which she had loved.
See it for what it is, and not how it felt.
Michelle felt sick because a spoon was being forced down her throat with lumpy custard. It felt scary and awful, and likely it was the spoon being forced down her throat too far, which had stimulated the gag response. With that realisation, Michelle could now see the custard was faultless and that she had actually loved custard! The issue was the nuns, and not the custard.
Be a victor, not a victim.
For over 40 years, Michelle allowed herself to continue being a victim of custard and the nuns. She was also allowing a 6 year old’s perspective dictate her beliefs and behaviours associated to custard. Accepting the factual new information, Michelle walked away from the events at her Catholic school, victorious.
Over four decades of fear, anxiety and physical vomiting disappeared in less than 15 minutes, because Michelle chose to accept the factual information. It was her choice. She could have continued to blame something that had never harmed her. Custard would have remained in the bowl, had the nuns not forced it upon her. Michelle realised she had taken over from where the nuns had left off, now making herself feel bad about custard, due to this inaccurate blame placed upon it.
Michelle is a great example of how quickly we can change, if we’re willing to listen. She is a great example of how we get things wrong in childhood, and if left unchallenged, how they can impact adulthood. She is also a great example of how even with the severity of her psychosomatic symptoms, new evidence can alter an anxiety causing schema of over four decades, in minutes.
Within one hour, we had Michelle back at Asda, tucking into cold custard, custard tarts, trifle and custard slices. Michelle did as we expected get in her bath of custard on live TV. She also had a ‘Custard Lady’ tattoo and is now the proud owner of a gorgeous puppy. Yes you’ve guessed it called Custard!
Before applying the above 5-step formula to your own fears and phobias, how about you listen to more of our phobia curing theories via our podcast, ‘Making The Change’!