How does fear affect your life? For most people, it is a long list with a wide reach.
Our primitive brain is set up to ensure the survival of the species and fear gets our attention. Fight, flight, freeze kicks in, non-essential processes like digestion stop, and we react instantly. This works great for leaping tigers and not as well for social threats and modern life.
Our higher level, cognitive brain functions take a few seconds longer to come online. The primitive brain always gets there first and it is highly reactive. When we experience a sudden fright or a high level of distress, our brain is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, and it takes about 20 minutes for that to clear through.
Ideally when we experience danger we are able to process it through our body by running away or fighting. It is when we freeze that it becomes embedded in our body.
It becomes generalized anxiety. A pervading sense of doom. We feel uneasy. We find ourselves holding our breath or our breath becomes shallow and high up in the chest. Our stomach is a knot of fear and we don’t “go there” if we can help it.
Safety IS the treatment, Dr Stephen Porges
I work with myself and with other people from a foundation of safety. Healing our system is a gradual process of dipping in one toe then taking it back out. We take a few more steps then retreat. Our defence mechanisms are in place to protect us and they are tenacious. They’ll remain on duty as long as we are convinced on any level that we need them.
Defense mechanisms are underground, or unconscious. They can show up as harshly judging ourselves or others. We might dismiss feelings as weak or inconsequential. We’re tough and don’t have time to sit around navel-gazing. Fear is under all of these. We hate feeling powerless and that drives a lot of our avoidance behavior, from compulsive tv to gaming to sex to alcohol and other drugs.
Fear and anxiety also affect not taking care of ourselves. We don’t sleep well. We eat too much sugar or don’t exercise our body. We feel hopeless.
There IS another option! We actually can experience in our body and nervous system that we are safe.
We stop scaring ourselves with the news and catastrophic thoughts. We stop thinking about safety and start experiencing it. As we do, our window of tolerance widens and our confidence grows. The walls come down because we know from our own direct experience that we no longer need them.
In the meantime … there is a dance. We are experiencing the relief and healing that comes from safely feeling and inquiring into the whole of our experience. Our body becomes known to us. We relax and our breathing becomes healthier. We intimately know the sensations, energy and feelings in our body. Exile parts of ourselves are welcomed home. As we unvelcro the associations with traumatic experiences, our body becomes lighter. We know our core deficiency beliefs are simply not true.
We move forward. Our natural curiosity and love of connection reemerges. We express ourselves with more courage and authenticity. Shame finally lets go. Kindness and compassion remain.
Are you up for a big commitment? Find Your Stillpoint