Our thought of last week was centred all around stress and our life-saving survival mechanism that kicks in to gear when we are being threatened. The lingering question remains though, why do our bodies pit running late for an arrangement en par with fleeing from a lion? It doesn’t seem to make logical sense! One clearly posits a real physical danger whilst the other is merely a psychological portrayal of a potential outcome inside our heads.
The reason is, these psychological scenarios threaten our self-concept. The image of who we think we are which we have spent our entire lives constructing. In other words, our ego. Now we’re not just talking about the ego as that thing which some people have that gets inflated and makes them think they are better than others. We’re referring to the ego as the personal identity which we have all given ourselves that is comprised of all our beliefs about our personality, abilities, and talents. It’s what governs our attitudes and our actions, our thoughts and our behaviours. A suit of armour, if you will, which protects our self-worth. It’s what makes us stand up to our punishers and retreat from our intimidators. It acts like a chief-commander of an army on the brink of war with anything that may compromise our psychological security and cause us emotional pain. So much so, that it employs its intelligence forces full time to constantly scope out for ‘threats’ and then it initiates an advance tactical defense in the face of potential ‘danger’.
It’s crazy to think that we care THAT much about what we and others think of us that our body triggers the same mechanism (fight-or-flight response) designed to save us in combat. And it’s even crazier to discover what incessant use of that mechanism does to our health. The good news though is that we have the ability to do something about it! By cultivating our awareness, we can begin to become attune to the drama in our minds and slowly but surely re-wire our thought patterns more constructively. It takes time and persistence, but the scientific field of neuroplasticity promises it’s possible.
The first step is simply to listen and feel; listen to the voice inside our head and feel the corresponding emotions surfacing inside our body. For the bold among us, you can even then begin to interrogate your ego a little. If you prod a little harder, you might uncover that this ‘chief-commander’ is actually more akin to the man behind the curtain pretending to be the big powerful Wizard in the Wizard of Oz. One day we’ll be able to pull the curtain down altogether and expose the ego for what it is once and for all. For now though, let’s stick with some listening and feeling as a start 🙂