As a young child, a huge unattended German Sheppard growling menacingly approached me on the sidewalk near my home. By the time I broke free from my fearful paralysis and decided to run — it was too late. The dog chased me up on to the porch of a strangers house. With my back to the front door it had me cornered, snarling, growling and snapping at the air between us. I’d never been so frightened in my life.
THE BRAIN IN AUTO-MODE
Most of the time our brain runs in auto-mode. During the daily grind our realities are lost in the complexities of inter-relations and daily tasks. Still we are busy staying true to our own subconscious routines, patterns and habits as dictated by our brain. Human auto-mode function has evolved with our changing needs, adapting to today’s safer social environment with less and less cause for alerting danger. Now used more in navigating through the outside world, solving whatever little problems comes our way, making banal choices of what to wear, what to eat and how we divvy up our time for any particular day.
Auto-mode is a safe haven of routines and patterns our mind has long put together, tried and tested over and over so as our protective brain now has confidence in its safe application. A somewhat mundane but safe existence yet always on the outlook for unusual change. Because our brain — doesn’t like change.
OUR BRAIN DOESN’T LIKE CHANGE
When real change is forced upon us? We get our backs up and bristle at the interruption of our long set ways while whining and bemoaning the intrusion. Yet the outside world is always changing and for the most part (as they say) “change is good!” Our human brain though, doesn’t agree. From its perspective a safe and mundane existence with little change is preferred. Not only preferred — but ideal!
Its Ideal because the safe survival of “you” is one of its main evolutionary priorities and change is a threat. Change introduces new probabilities, new circumstance and situations that could eventually lead to bridging the protective walls its long-built for your protection. Where inside these walls — lives your greatest fears!
No, the brain doesn’t like change. Just look at the emotional backlash it initiates in defense. The complaining, the whining, the apprehensions. These are signs that our brain wants things to remain the same. The same-old-same-old safety of patterns and routine unchanged.
WALLED-IN FOR PROTECTION
Yet while protecting your mind’s reality for safety our Brain not only puts up a protecting wall against change getting in, but holds “you in” from getting out. For most of us this unconscious invisible barrier can be a real problem. Our brain has long fortified these walls with long-held beliefs, habits, routine, and fear. The longer in place, the higher the wall, the deeper in the dungeons of your subconscious mind. So deep in fact that many of us rarely, if ever, break through.
This comes as no real surprise since your brain, our brain, controls this subconscious hidden realm. The realm where our secret fears, our darkest memories and our most protected personal belief’s reside. While working subconsciously unnoticed behind the scenes our brain has been busy over the years constructing a sturdy protective subconscious wall.
Its A personalized wall made just for you, no-two exactly the same. We are all different, of different experiences with unique combinations of fears, memories and hard-core beliefs. Inside our heads we all live in different realities. We all see the world from different perspectives. We all have different things locked in our subconscious and behind our Walls.
What we do have in common is an unnoticed subconscious working diligently behind the scenes, fabricating your personal reality and building these walls. Walls to keep you safe from the outside world and the dangers that it perceives that lay there. Dangers laying in wait and dressed as change!
When our personal long-held beliefs are attacked? We fight back with aggression. Not really listening to our attacker at all just simply spewing forth our tried and tested rebuttals of what we think of as (what our brain has made us think of as) hard-core facts. In defense, our brain ramps-up our emotions that blinds us from even considering that we may be wrong. Just — how foolish they are, in their belief? How dare they challenge mine? Because mine are most assuredly right!
The walls built by your brain over-time are now sturdy and strong, so anyone trying to get in and change your beliefs will be aggressively repelled. Your brain has long ago deemed these beliefs as not just true, but as fact, and woe unto those that attempt to now change them. In essence, we no-longer seek what may be true, our brain is only interested in protecting what’s there already in place.
THE ULTIMATE WEAPON
When we come up against situations that in the past have related bad memories, our brain is there to remind us. Warning us using past memories as reminders of what could happen if we continue on this path. Doing its best to dissuade us with emotions of uneasiness, trepidation and if needed fear. This in the end is usually enough to prevent us from going on. Makes us think that perhaps it would be safer to stick with what has worked in the past (routine) and avoid the possibilities of negative re-occurrence.
Our brain uses fear as its ultimate weapon for safety. Not just fear of physical danger, but it reaches deep into your subconscious where your private and personalized fears are held. Fear of snakes of spiders or of heights. Fear of public speaking of rejection or failure. Of inadequacy or yes — fear of change!
We all carry memories of past rejections, haunting’s of embarrassments’ and shame. Some of these may have been repeated or so strongly ingrained that our brain in protection has incorporated them into fears. Made them into one of our strongest emotions in the fight against change. They too are now well protected behind our fences. Behind the subconscious wall built by our Brain.
Yet we do have our successes. Occasionally we do break free. Though this does not come easy, it comes with conscious focus and determination in facing our fear. It comes with an open mind, with slow repetition and a true desire to break free. It seems that climbing over the fence to get out, although far from easy, can be accomplished. It seems that triumphing over our fears is not after all impossible?
For most of my life I was terrified of dogs. Big dogs. One day as a young child walking home alone from school I encountered a large unattended German Sheppard. It had broken free from its chains and was growling menacingly as it approached me on the sidewalk near my home. By the time I broke free from my fearful paralysis and decided to run — it was too late.
The dog chased me up onto the porch of a strangers house. With my back to the front door it had me cornered, snarling, growling and snapping at the air between us. I’d never been so frightened in my life. Before the inevitable could happen, an old woman opened the door shouting loudly at the dog and dragged me in to safety. From that day forward, I have always been terrified of dogs.
Fast forward now in my early twenties, a good friend of mine invited me over to his newly acquired country home. No one was there to greet me so I started my walk up to his front door. Suddenly from around the corner of the house came a blur of fur and angry barking. — He had a dog! The next thing I can remember I was sitting in my car, doors closed and windows rolled up. Even to this day I have no memory of getting there. Fear must of erased those few terrifying seconds from my memory. My brain erasing them — and for good.
My story though does have a happy ending. Over time and through the years my country friend (who always owned at least two, sometimes three dogs at any given time) helped me to become comfortable around them. To the point that I could greet them on arrival without him being there. We took the dogs for long adventurous walks and in time I actually bonded with them. Later, I would take care of his dogs alone and by myself while house sitting on the occasions he’d ask me to.
My fear of dogs slowly diminished and today though still sometimes leery, even other strange dogs I’ve never seen before don’t have me running in fear. For the most part, my fear of dogs has jumped the fence, my brain no-longer in complete control of this previously fearful situation. I am now more free to live and enjoy my life.
FACING OUR FEARS
Fear for the most part, is the brain’s way of protecting us. The old “Fight or Flight” instincts of our early ancestors still in use today. But for most of us now living in a safer more civilized world, fight or flight may rarely if ever be needed. Yet we all still experience fear? And we are all different in that which causes our fear, our brain having chosen for us what fears to cage behind our own personal protective wall.
Fear they say is of the unknown. But fear is also initiated by personal past experience. Fostered over time it can become long-standing perhaps even permanent in the form of frightening memories. This is your primeval subconscious brain working to protect you. It knows not of the realities of the outside world. It only knows that which has scared you in the past. Knows of your past negative emotional reactions and tries to protect you from re-experiencing them again.
Knowing this, helps us to break-free from our fears by facing them down! Facing them as I did with my fear of big dogs, although in my case, perhaps more by chance and circumstance than intent? But when we do repetitively face our fears successfully, we are telling our protective brain to delete this fear from our subconscious. Delete it permanently because the unknown, is now known. And we — are no-longer afraid!
What are you afraid of?
Have you ever conquered a long held fear?
Check out this guys truly amazing story about false reality and fear. An incredible insight into the human mind.
THE WORD OF WAYNE
“FEAR stands for — Fuck Everything And Run.”― Stephen King, Doctor Sleep
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