Fight. Flight. Freeze

fear

 

Fear.  I’ve just begun a four-week workshop on emotions and the first one we’re covering is fear.

Fear, as I see it is at the root of all our pains.  The root of anger, of guilt, of grief.

And it sits so close to home because it is a primal instinct.  It is a feeling felt among us all and has evolved into us as a protection mechanism.

Say you’re a zebra.  You’re enjoying your day, out in the sahara, grazing in the sun.  You spot a lion.  Fear.  There is a physiological response that goes along with fear.  Fight, flight or freeze.  Increased blood flow to your muscles.  Extra blood sugar, cortisol and adrenaline are released into your veins.  Your heart starts to beat faster.  All of this to prepare you to either attack or run in the opposite direction.  This innate, physical response to fear is a survival mechanism.

When a threat is present, our body prepares us for what to do next.  We don’t think our way into this response, it just happens.  And for us, as zebras, we’re going to want all that extra juice pumping through our veins to get the fuck outta dodge when the lion comes a calling.

But what about today?  Today in our human bodies, with our human problems.  Where the threat isn’t as often one of the physical nature.  Where the response we need isn’t going be a literal fight of flight.  What now?

When we encounter something in our lives that causes fear, whether the threat is real, perceived, physical or one of the mind, our body reacts the same way as that of the zebra.  Physiologically the same reactions take place to prepare us for survival.  But our threats don’t often require a physical response.  So we’re left with all this pent up energy and nothing to do about it.

So what do we do…we yell, we cry, we rage, we go bananas as a means of trying to discharge this energy.  And then just feel sorry for the poor soul who ended up on the receiving end of this.

Fear often comes out of insecurity.  Out of a feeling of not being seen, of not being needed or wanted.  We want to feel loved, useful and creative.  And when these needs aren’t met.  When we don’t feel safe.  Fear takes over.

In all the reading I did on fear, the teaching was not so much just about what caused the fear or even to stop the fear but to come to know your fear.  To step face to face with yourself.  To come to understand your fear.  Where you feel it in your body.  What that feels like.  And what your conditioned reaction to the fear is.

For me, I feel it in my throat, it feels tight and makes me want to scream and fight.

So what do we do with this fear?  We need a way to properly discharge the energy so that it doesn’t end up in a crazy middle of the night text to our loved ones.

Move the energy through the body.  If you feel like this fear makes you want to run, go out for a run.  If the fear makes you want to fight, go home and punch some pillows.  One of the girls said that she’s been taught to simply shake.  That to shake your body for three minutes will discharge the built up energy.  Regardless of the activity, the idea is that you need to do something to move all that extra energy through your body.

And then you rest.  You sit.  You restore.  You lay back and throw you legs up the wall.  You rejuvinate.

The idea is not to overcome fear.  Fear is a natural response and will continue to come into your life.  The idea is to understand fear.  To come to know your fear.  To establish a different relationship to fear so that it doesn’t take over your life.

When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.  ~ Eckhart Tolle

Some writing prompts around fear:
What do I fear?  Where does this fear come from?  Where do I feel it in my body?  What does that feel like?  What is my reaction to fear?

Check it out and let me know how it goes.

Much love,
~Shawna

 

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