By Younas Chaudhary
My fear of darkness started at an early age and has stayed with me throughout my life since seeing bombs fall at night and hiding underground in dark tunnels during the India-Pakistan war of 1965. There are an estimated 11% of Americans who currently fear being alone in the dark.
Nyctophobia or extreme fear of the dark makes children and adults fear being alone in the dark. According to the Cleveland Clinic, being afraid of the dark mostly occurs in children ages 6 to 12 but it is not uncommon for it to continue into adulthood.
My fear of being alone in the dark started during childhood, with the fear of night bombing, and from a mischievous uncle who would scare me saying that robbers will come at night and jump over the wall to steal household items and kidnap me. I slept in the open at night hoping robbers would not come to our home. Unfortunately, robbers did come to our home one night and I screamed in terror and began fearing darkness even more.
One time during my early childhood years, my father sent me with my newly married uncle to accompany him and my aunt as they moved to a remote frontier province in Pakistan on a job assignment. That area was known for criminal gangs and kidnappers. The gangs would kidnap children and permanently injure their body so that they could make them work as street beggars. During my short stay in that area, I was very anxious and I remember running through narrow dark alleys in that remote area to stay safe. Thank God, nothing bad happened during my stay.
As I grew older, my fear of being alone in the dark diminished. I moved to the West in the 1970’s, and my fear of being alone in the dark eased further. I have tried to face the fear by purposely staying in the dark. I felt that the best remedy was to be exposed to darkness repeatedly until overcoming the fear.
I like long days and short nights. At night, I like to sleep in pitch darkness and even cover television and other lights in hotel rooms to avoid any light. I advise my adult kids not to stay outside after dark.
If you fear the dark, here are some tips I have learned along the way:
Face the fear. It is a good practice to go into darkness, walk in the dark alone, and be alone in the house with lights off.
Simulate instances of fear. Try taking long walks to your parked car in darkness, go drive at night on remote dark roads to become emboldened.
Meditation can help ease your mind from dreadful thoughts in the dark.
If everything else fails, switch on the light. Have a wonderful Holiday season and Stay Blessed.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.