As I sit down to type this, fear could easily overwhelm me. I am afraid of so many things. I’m afraid of what my doctor will tell me abut my health, I’m afraid because I haven’t slept through the night in months, I’m afraid because I’m starting to write a novel and I’m not motivated to do it and with every day my word goal gets further and further away, I’m afraid because I’ve recently started to lose my hair in startling amounts and the thought of spending the rest of my life trying to manipulate my hairstyle into place so it doesn’t seem thin is slightly terrifying because I’ve always had more than enough hair to lose a lot without it being an issue and now that has changed. I could go on, but you get the point.
What is it about the human brain that we are afraid of the unknown? I could hear good news from the doctor, I could start sleeping through the night again, I could have an incredibly productive writing week and close in on my word goal, and my hair could be responding to stress and grow back. Why aren’t those thoughts my default? Why do I, and I know I’m not alone in this, go to my fears or the negative thoughts that are probably part of what’s keeping me from sleeping well?
So I was part of a meditation circle last night, which mentioned the topic and what they said really hit home. They were talking about how our fears are a survival mechanism that has gone a little haywire. Well, sometimes it’s gone more than a little haywire, but either way it is a survival tactic to protect ourselves from things that are dangerous.
My first thought was that I do not think it is dangerous to lose my hair or not sleep straight through the night. Ok, the doctor’s office always feels a little dangerous, but I feel like they would have called if there was something life threatening. Which was when I stopped myself and realized it wasn’t that it was actually dangerous, it was that it felt dangerous. Bear with me. Danger makes you feel over stimulated, uncomfortable, put on edge, etc. Now, I may not feel that I’m going to lose my life over losing my hair, but it absolutely does feel uncomfortable, and it definitely has me on edge, and it’s in my thoughts more than it should be because it’s a new development. So it’s not dangerous, but it makes my body feel like it is because I’m experiencing the same reactions.
So, for me at least, it’s time to stop and think about how we actually feel fear. Not just the breath stopping car accident or burning building, but the things that make us fear a change in the status quo. As humans, we love when things stay the same, not that we don’t want change but only change if it’s going to be positive…but we can’t guarantee that, can we? Change in and of itself can be one of the scariest things out there because of the unknown. So, thinking about fear, I’m convinced I can retrain my nervous response not to go into overdrive when I style my hair and a handful comes out on the comb, that I can learn to soothe myself back to sleep if I find the right music or meditation to listen to, and that I can make myself logically assess the timeline of the doctor calling me back and recognize it is unlikely to be dangerous if he is not calling me back quickly. Now all I have to do, is do it.