A couple of years ago, one of our neighbours named Joan, received a phone call from her nephew in the U.S. He said that he had been in a motorcycle accident and was in the hospital needing money. Joan’s heart started racing, a flurry of thoughts raced through her mind and her stomach was churning. She ended up sending her nephew over $3000. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t her nephew. Joan had been swindled. What is surprising is that Joan could have spotted that from a mile away under any other circumstances. Her fear blinded her to reason.
If Joan had had a hold of herself, she would’ve been able to see the signs and the inconsistencies in her “nephew’s” story.
Another way of saying “had a hold of herself” is being more self-aware; Self aware in terms of what am I feeling right now, physically, emotionally and mentally? Am I plugged in or am I disconnected? Fear unplugs us from ourselves. But fear is something that we can learn to feel through while keeping a broader perspective. The antidote to fear is self-awareness.
Before we talk about the solution, let’s talk more about living with fear. Living with fear results in:
1) you being influenced one way or another more easily (like Joan)
The social crisis that we are still going through has many many facets to it. One of them is how the media, social and mainstream, helped to create so much fear in people, the effects of which we will be dealing with for a very long time. Say what you want about the media, you can’t deny that it is a business first and foremost.
I was living in Atlanta, Georgia, going to chiropractic school, when the first Iraqi invasion took place under George Bush Sr. This historic event has been seen as the birth of CNN, the brainchild of Ted Turner, who revolutionized news gathering and giving by creating the 24 hour news cycle. Gone were the days of Walter Cronkite, Headline News was the new kid on the block. News channels had to come up with narratives that would keep the attention of the public now 24 hours a day. How does one do that? Fear: Our most powerful motivator.
If you watch the news your body will experience fear, whether you’re aware of it or not. It will also fill your mind with so much information that you experience a disconnection from your body. Another source of fear is if you only focus on what you don’t know, what you’re uncertain of or what’s not working in your life, then you will create your own fear.
2) fear creates a physiology that is underlying 99% of health problems today. If you’ve heard of inflammation or cortisol, this is the result of your body reacting to fear. It doesn’t matter what is causing fear in your perception, it all has the same effects in the body.
– A weaker immune system
– compromised digestion
– lower energy and fatigue
– poor sleep
– rapid aging
3) fear costs you money. Whether it’s in increased taxes for health spending, or increased out-of-pocket expenses for medications or treaments, increased social support costs, we’re paying for it a number of ways.
4) Quality of life – would you rather live out of fear or live your life with purpose and vision? We exercise that choice every day, every moment we choose to connect or disconnect, every moment we live in fear or growth.
The Antidote to fear is self-awareness:
Self-awareness is a form of biofeedback. You are listening to your body and reacting, making decisions and taking action based on what you’re feeling. The more you practice self-awareness, the more you see that there is a skill to it, an art. Self-awareness involves you taking what you’re feeling from your body and creating meaning from it. And it’s often not as simple as feeling your stomach gurgling and then saying “I’m hungry”. Or feeling a pain in your body and saying “it’s because I slept wrong”. Self-awareness involves paying closer attention to your body than you’re used to. The more closely you pay attention, the louder (less subtle) the body gets.
How do you become more self-aware?
How often do you take a step back and gain some perspective on where you are, what you’re feeling, where you want to focus next? There are many ways to do this, some formal, some less formal. The Neuro-Structural sessions at the Happy Spine are designed to give you the opportunity to stop, take a look around, and see what’s going on inside. Meditation is another way to grow self-awareness. Yoga, in part a moving meditation, is another great method for nurturing the connection with yourself.
Self-awareness enables us to know what we’re feeling in the moment and what to do about it. If we’re feeling fear, we can consciously shift the physical feelings by changing our breathing, our tension and our energy flow. Without self-awareness, we’re in the dark and can be led down whatever path someone else wants. Self-awareness gives us the power to choose in the moment: love, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, curiosity, all the things that make the human being so adaptable and capable.