Imagined fear


In my dream last night I was high up on a ladder. I was 100s of metres up and approaching the destination, a small square entrance in a very high stone building.

I was just about there, a few more steps, when the option to be scared occurred me. I ran it though my mind what could happen, it could be very dangerous. I looked down, I realised I could fall. Panic swept through me. I was then really in danger because I was now shaken and in able to climb with the composure and presence required to be safe.

I shouted for help in desperation realising I had got myself into danger and was pulled in through the passageway into the room.

I was just as safe on the ladder 100s of metres up as I was 5 or 10 metres up. Up until the point of nearing the passage/entrance I hadn’t even thought of the height or any danger, I was simply focused on the task of climbing.

I made the situation dangerous through entertaining my fearful imaginings. A self fulfilling prophecy. What a concise little demonstration of what ‘we create our own reality’ means. The dream communicated that the decision is mine, to fear.

I can make life dangerous by handicapping myself and my ability to make wise decisions with fight/flight hormones by listening to fearful thoughts suggesting I’m in danger. When I’m not actually in danger. Every hour there’s a moment this decision is to be made for me.

‘Are we all good here, is there anything to be watching out for?’ ‘Is it safe to relax and be happy?’ That doubt is totally natural and it evolved with us in the amygdala part of our brains to save us from tigers hiding behind bushes and ensure our survival. Now we have a well developed frontal cortex which can sooth and reassure the threat detection reflexes of the amygdala.

We can learn to direct compassion and caring towards that part of ourselves that fears easily, like a nurturing parent.

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