December 1st, 2017 6:03pm
In my experience as a doctor, I have observed that many physical ailments have their roots in emotions. For those emotions to cause illness, they must have their roots based in fear (thus anxiety). That is why I have made it my life’s work to understand the origins of negative emotions, so to help alleviate the anxiety in myself and others.
The primitive part of our brain, I call the automatic brain (AB for short), has evolved over the past tens of thousands of years. This primitive brain is part reptilian, is completely reactive, and is at its core, is our animal nature. The only feature that separates our AB from that of other animal species is that our frontal cortex is more highly evolved and therefore this primitive brain is capable of thought. But thought or no thought, it operates the same way as other animals—to do whatever it takes, but any means necessary to fight or flee what it processes as danger, threat, or vulnerability. The flight-or-fight actions that it causes us are often self-destruction and hurtful toward others.
Fear and anxiety are the manifestations of the AB as it detects potential danger, threat or vulnerability. It causes an uncomfortable, overwhelming, unmistakable physiological reaction that influences us to do things we would rather not do.
Here are 7 fake news stories that our AB creates in an attempt to reel you in.
1. You’ll be exposed as a fraud
Into adulthood, we bring an AB that is already filled with childhood perspectives of who we are and what will represent danger to us. Since the AB is often rooted in these childhood experiences, as you approach success your AB may trigger you to fight or flee the possibility of being “found out”. The fear will be that you’ll be exposed as a fraud and incapable of doing a particular task or job. This is a fake story.
2. The rug will be pulled out from under you
Do you ever look around and see how lucky you are, only to then get a flashing sense of anxiety that the next shoe will drop or the rug will be pulled out from under you? In other words, easy come, easy go. The reality is that good fortune doesn’t magically go away. It is my experience that when your intentions are grounded in good will, the right things happen at the right times for the right reasons. And those right things don’t just disappear. I have a saying that God doesn’t pull the rug out from under us. If you have good fortune don’t believe the fake story that you are somehow in danger. You’re not. You are safe.
3. You will always feel this way
The reality is that the fear/anxiety and ultimate fight-or-flight reaction is orchestrated by a chemical reaction. Those chemicals last in our system for only a few minutes, unless we let our brain detect other dangers. “This too shall pass” could not be a truer statement when it comes to this fake news story.
4. It’s an accurate measurement of when you’re in over your head
More often than not, fear/anxiety occurs when you are pushing through your comfort zone and entering unfamiliar areas, usually more challenging, but infinitely more rewarding if you stick with it and do not flight or flee back into comfort and safety. Therefore, it is a fake story that such a reaction means you should turn back. Precisely, the opposite, you should forge ahead.
5. You have a disorder
You feel like you are in the minority and no one has it as bad as you. You are weak, maybe a loser, and there is no way that those who you observe around you can know your pain. Well, truth be told, all of us are broken. We are broken because we all have a primitive nature controlled by our AB and therefore prone to the machinations of that brain causing us to always be on the lookout for danger and then flight or flee it. Although others may not appear as tormented as you, never judge that to be the case, as you cannot know the nuances of someone’s life let alone their AB. The only disorder you have is Being Human Disorder.
6. You’re weak if you need medication
The AB’s perception of danger will cause a fight-or-flight (fear/anxiety) reaction which causes unpleasant physiological symptoms. Those symptoms circle back to the AB and signal more possible danger (“oh no, I’m having a heart attack, I can’t breathe, I’m having a stroke”). Of course, this causes more fight-or-flight and the vicious cycle propagates. Sometimes the only thing that will stop it is medication. There are all sorts of medications, prescription, and non-prescription that can be helpful. So, you’re not being weak; you’re being practical, and it does not mean you will be on medication the rest of your life.
7. Only medicine works
It’s true that fear/anxiety can be so strong that it seems as though medicine is the only thing to stop it. Yes, it can help and medications and/or supplements can play a role. But it is fake news that you are destined to a lifetime of medication. Potent other tools exist. Here are the top ones that I have discovered personally and in my practice: a commitment to faith in something larger than yourself (for many this is God); prayer; meditation; visualization; breathing exercises; physical exercise; yoga; walks in nature.
When we believe, trust, and take direction from out AB’s fake news, we block access to another vital part of our nature, the one that truly separates us from animals—our Divine Nature. There will always be circumstances that will signal danger—real or imagined. But those dangers are no match for a deep faith in our connection with something far greater.
© Dr. Charles F. Glassman, CoachMD