“Listen kid, you can’t get rid of fear. It’s like mother nature. You can’t beat her or outrun her, but you can get through it. You can find out what you’re made of.”
– Walt Disney
The fear we need
That quote is from the new Disney & Pixar animated movie called The Good Dinosaur. In that scene, a big ‘ole rough and tough T-Rex, explains how fear is part of our programming. We can’t override it, but we can overcome it. This ginormous T-Rex, covered in battle scars and seemingly fearless, was telling the younger dinosaurs the famous story of how a crocodile tried to take his face off. “I’m done being scared” the littlest one exclaims. “Who’s saying I’m not scared?” snapped the Rex instantly. He continues, “If you’re not afraid of a croc biting into your face, you ain’t alive.”
This conversation was a revelation to the youngest, smallest dinosaur. He had spent all of his life being fearful of the world around him and hating himself for feeling so afraid. When he learnt that the toughest, roughest, gruffest and most respected Rex in the land got scared of things too, his belief in himself was elevated.
The fear we don’t need
Here’s the thing with fear, as with any emotion, we have to learn to cope with it. And it’s not all bad, not at all. We can use it for our benefit, it’s our survival instinct, and that’s what it’s there for. In dangerous situations, we actually depend on fear for good decision making. But a lot of the time, when fear is irrational, it can be debilitating, consuming our joy like a black hole within ourselves, growing larger with the diminishing of each positive thought.
When fear holds us back, we miss out on so much. We become prisoners, setting limits which needn’t be there. We become stressed and our whole body suffers as a consequence. We recently published a blog on how these survival instincts are being misinterpreted by the complexity of our modern minds, causing major muscles, and therefore our entire bodies to suffer. You can read that here – Psoas – the muscle of the soul
“If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.”
– Kris Carr
The physical ramifications
The unchecked human mind has a funny way of prioritising bad over good. If you’ve ever heard the saying “check yourself, before you wreck yourself,” It probably won’t have sounded so profound until now. You see, the survival mechanism which keeps us hyper vigilant in dangerous environments, is being used in all the wrong scenarios, and it’s literally wrecking us. To find out more about how stress “wrecks” the body, read our blog ‘What happens in your body when you get stressed’.
This “negativity bias” causes us to dwell on daily frustrations, which accumulate into anger, letting our fears fester into deeper fears which turn into anxiety, and get us siding with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, laying the way for depression. Now the mind is filled up and there is no room for wonder, awe and gratitude. We are not relaxed, we are tense. Tension forms like Tetris; it builds on itself as life keeps throwing obstacles at you, causing ever increasing build-up. Left unchecked, this tension becomes chronic.
New scientific understandings have discovered how much this can in fact decrease our lifespan. Not only does chronic stress and negative emotions have a detrimental effect on our overall health, it actually damages our DNA. The ends of our DNA to be more exact. The strands have “end caps” called telomeres, and these caps protect the chromosomes from deteriorating. Recent findings have shown these telomeres shorten as a direct result of chronic stress. With these telomeres prematurely shortening, we are left vulnerable to premature ageing.
The steps toward health
Physical responses stemming from negative emotions do not always display themselves clearly or equally from person to person. Being prone to certain diseases and illnesses can definitely make it easier for obvious symptoms to present themselves. For others, unexplained flare ups and random bouts of feeling ‘under the weather’ may never be directly tied to an emotional problem by themselves or a professional. Lots of medicines can be administered to help with the slew of symptoms, but regularly, the root cause goes undiagnosed.
There are mindful and practical tools we can adopt to help us cope with our fears, anger, depression and other negative emotions, though it does take a bit of DIY brain re-wiring. Nothing comes easy in this life. It takes learning to control our breathing, and calm ourselves. It takes finding activities that help de-stress or release pent-up frustrations. It takes maturity and wisdom and a sense of real compassion for yourself and the world around you. Above all, it takes a whole lot of letting go.
Dr. Fredrickson, a scientist and researcher into the importance of positivity shared in an interview: “In order to offset the negativity bias and experience a harmonious emotional state, we need to experience three positive emotions for every negative one. This can be done intentionally for those of us less “wired” to positivity. These positive emotions literally reverse the physical effects of negativity and build up psychological resources that contribute to a flourishing life.”
This is what the holistic lifestyle is all about; attaining that balance which allows our mind and bodies to flourish. Realising that both are linked, and one directly affects the other. The first and most important step of leading a holistic lifestyle, is admitting to ourselves that our quality of life could be better, and we have the power to improve it. Next time you’re about to enter into a situation that does not require your fear, but nonetheless needs your courage, kindly tell yourself: “Go on in, but leave your fear at the door.”
Our holistic health courses
At the School of Natural Health Sciences we offer 57 holistic courses ranging all the way from Reflexology to Philosophy to Stress Management to Clinical Nutrition. There’s a course for any health interest, and we strongly believe that in learning to teach, you become your own teacher. Our course on Mindfulness for example, is suitable not only for professional therapists, but also people who just want to work on themselves and their quality of life. Parents, children, siblings, friends, colleagues and therapists can all benefit from what this course offers.