Jill Bolte Taylor, in her book a stroke of insight, says all it takes is 90 seconds for the body to process the hormonal and neurotransmitter reactions associated with negative emotions such as fear, worry, frustration, or sorrow… if you turn those emotions into stories, though, they may last forever. All we need to do is simply acknowledge them until they go away – just 90 seconds. Do not turn them into stories, do not feed the anger, fuel the pain, or pump up the fear; do not hold on to them but also do not push them under the carpet hoping no one will notice – they will still be there for you to clean up later on, this time with much more damage involved.
The stories our fears are feeding fall into two categories: worry and grief.
Worry is when we project our fears onto the future and grief is when we drag our past stories along into our present and allow them to shape our life and ache our heart and soul.
In his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert M. Sapolsky says that zebras do experience life trauma. Attacked by a lion or seeing a tiger devouring their cub, they experience fear, pain, and grief but they do not attach any stories to the feelings, they fully experience the event with all what it triggers from hormones and neurotransmitters, then they flip the page and change the scene…
Some people have this amazing gift of ‘flipping the page’, you see them cheerful, happy, and bouncing soon after a life trauma hits them… sometimes, it is really a gift, they do live in the moment, fill their heart with peace, faith, and trust and let life flow and unfold as they go… yet, in many cases, the page flipping is just a denial mechanism or a mask they wear hiding their true unbearable pain even from their own selves… they still write the stories in their subconscious mind and shove it under a pile of fake laughter and joy. This is not a healthy way of experiencing emotions. They might get by for a while, but these stories will one day resurface from the shadow and haunt them. Their stories may start as subtle Body Whispers®, but soon, the screams will force them to wake up and really face their fears.
Facing our fears starts with the inner work. It starts with true belief that we live in a purposeful world, that God is wise, merciful, and just and that every event, challenge, or ordeal carries a valuable lesson and meaning that might or might not reveal itself with time. Yes, we might never understand ‘why.’ Deep in our hearts we need to believe that there is a valuable reason… when we reach this stage of faith, belief, trust, and surrender, we will finally be ready to let go of the fear.
It might take weeks, months, or even years. You can’t rush it… “You can’t make a rosebud open by hitting it with a hammer” as R. N. Ramen says… Let the process unfold, be gentle with yourself, be compassionate towards your vulnerability… just keep doing the inner work one baby step at a time: Breathing, praying, meditating, reading, learning, getting therapy, hiring a life coach… whatever it takes, just keep it up and running.