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Fear is a Fickle Friend

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

Fear is something we all experience. But it seems that more often than is good for us we find ourselves being afraid. Afraid of war, terrorists, car accidents, fires, drowning, shark attacks, mass shootings, plane crashes, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, sickness.

And these are scary things. You may know someone who has experienced these things; you may have experienced one of these things yourself.

Now of course, fear is our evolutionary friend. Without fear, we would put ourselves in danger. We must learn fear to survive. But living in a perpetual state of fear is taking a toll on our health and stealing our joy, to say the very least. Like everything, there needs to be balance and moderation.

So how do we deal with fear?

There are really only two choices: run away/ignore it or face it.

When we think about war, terrorists, car accidents, fires, drowning, shark attacks, mass shootings, plane crashes, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, or sickness, the thing you might notice about all of these except the last one is that we can kind of talk ourselves out of it. You know, the old, “that’s not likely to happen so I’m being silly.” (Unless you have anxiety, as a former sufferer, I know that doesn’t really work, either, and we should talk).

But sickness? Well, that is a pretty normal thing that happens every day. We see and hear about people who are sick all the time, and have been sick ourselves too. There are so many diseases, and more are being added to the list all the time.

Somehow sickness feels different - kind of inevitable. Does it seem more out of our control? Sickness just happens to you. I mean, if one is really afraid of drowning, for example, one could just never go swimming, right? But we don’t have a choice about living in our bodies do we? And the odds seem more in favor of us getting sick at some point. We are told there's nothing we can do. We've all heard of the person who was so healthy and ran 5 miles a day but just dropped dead out of nowhere, right? As they say, no one’s getting out alive, after all.

You think to yourself, "Well if that person who was so healthy can just drop dead, then what's the point of trying to be healthy? It doesn't matter." And that’s what really is the root of all fear: powerlessness. That’s why when we face a fear, we no longer feel afraid – we chose to stand in power against that which we fear. We all know this but we might have forgotten. Our technology has allowed us to become "safer." But can we ever really be safe by avoiding things? Some things definitely. Can we stay safe by ignoring the things we fear? Putting them out of our minds? I don't think so. Perhaps on a surface level, but we are fooling ourselves if we don't think that's doing harm.

Often instead of feeling or facing our fears we numb-out or distract ourselves. Why? Because we can. There are SO many ways to do that, so many things designed to entertain and distract (a topic for another day) - just speaking of TV alone, one would probably never run out of things to watch; but with our phones we can now numb-out all day long for a minute here, a minute there, never giving ourselves the chance to be alone with our thoughts.*

*Side Note: This is a pretty recent phenomenon, and since we can pretty much never be stuck alone without something to "do" we have gotten really out of shape, so to speak, when it comes to being alone with ourselves. Most of us now find that somewhere between uncomfortable and absolutely terrifying.

In short, we don’t give ourselves the chance to be powerful.

The good news is that no matter what we’ve done before, the choice always remains, waiting for us to take that leap and change how we respond to a fear.

So coming back to sickness, when it comes to our bodies many of us are so used to listening to an outside authority that we feel our own body is a mysterious stranger who might crap out on us or go off the rails and start attacking itself at any moment. We almost don’t want to know what’s going on in there.

I used to feel that way myself. In fact, beginning as a child, I HATED my body. I hated it for being fat. I hated it for having asthma. I hated it for having allergies. I hated it for having eczema. (I could go on and on.) But I didn't just hate it, I feared it and what it could do to me. How it could make me suffer. I didn’t understand why it acted the way it did and I was confused and angry and I felt completely helpless and dependent on medications.

I battled and cursed my body for more than 30 years. But finally enough was enough. It took a more debilitating illness to finally get me to do it, but I faced my fear. Even though I had done very well in school, science was always something I told myself didn't sink into my brain. I was afraid I couldn't understand my body but I tried anyway. I started reading and researching why these things were happening and realized I didn’t have to be powerless. I could change things about what I was doing and they would have a dramatic effect on the experience I had with my body.

The fact is, body is a miraculous creation and it is working hard to keep everything running. Just as I did for so many years, we beat up our bodies and don't treat them well, and yet we expect them to run as if we did. Rather than expecting our body to do things that are contrary to its programming, we can learn to flow with the body by understanding what is behind symptoms and dynamics and we can often intervene and support the body in the way it is asking. Rather living with constant low-grade dread of what might "go wrong" with your body, you can take steps to keep it supported. That is how to stop fearing our bodies. That's what I did and I no longer hate and fear my body. I'm not special - if I can do it, you can too, believe me!

This is what I’ve learned in the almost 10 years since my health quest began in earnest, though I think I was asking these questions for many years longer.

My passion for true, natural, resilient health, and my training in Functional Medicine are what have equipped me to help Bodies just like yours be understood and supported.

If you want to talk about how I can support you in reclaiming your health click contact. I can't wait to talk to you.

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