When it comes down to it, protection is the driving force of the human body. We are designed to protect ourselves at all costs, from a cellular level. Our cells are talented little beasts, each doing its part to keep us healthy and well. The nervous system is constantly engaging in sympathetic responses to make sure that we have enough energy to outrun predators, if need be. Whether we are aware of it or not, our musculature shapes itself into defensive postures, and tends to stay that way.
From a mental-emotional standpoint, fear plays an equally protective role. Fear is a warning system that potential damage is about to occur. Whether this fear is rational or not is a whole other story. Like everything else in the body, this emotion isn't a conscious, thought-out reaction. It simply is. If you're out swimming and see a fin, that fear can save your life, driving the nervous system to act to get you the hell away from Jaws before it bites your arm off. Unfortunately, our bodies tend to have difficulty differentiating between, "Uh oh, I'm going to lose an arm," and "Uh oh, I need to speak in front of a roomful of people." Losing an arm? A legitimate excuse for the body to engage in a fear response. Stammering your way through a presentation? Not so much.
Since the body cannot differentiate, the physiological response to being in danger of loss of life or limb, and the response to a minor annoyance, is often comparable.
I'll use myself as an example. A few weeks ago, I had to stand up and give a presentation. I sweated. I twitched. I'm a fairly articulate person, normally, but I stammered and stuttered my way through the entire thing, constantly losing my train of thought. I couldn't even think, because my brain seemed to have shut down. My heart was beating so hard that I could actually hear it in my voice. When I was finished, I felt like I had run a marathon. I was so drained from the terror of it, I felt like I was ready for a nap.
Now, let's go back to a few months before this. I was driving on the highway, going about 75 miles an hour. I looked down for one second, and when I looked up, the car in front of me had come to a complete standstill. I knew I had no hope of stopping my car before I crashed, so I jerked my steering wheel to the side and veered onto the grassy median. Fortunately, I didn't hit the car in front of me; unfortunately, I lost control of my vehicle and started spinning out of control, back into the traffic. Somehow, I have no idea how, I managed to regain control of my steering wheel and avoid death, but I ended up facing in the opposite direction in rush hour traffic. As I turned my car around and thanked whoever was watching over me, I broke into a sweat. I started shaking. My heart raced, my brain shut down, and I was left drained and exhausted.
In short, I had the same reaction, to the same degree, that I had when speaking in front of a room of people. Did my near-miss warrant that reaction? Absolutely. I was in danger of losing my life. It was terrifying. Yet, the presentation presented no physical danger. No one would hate me if I failed at it. It wasn't even all that important-I wasn't being graded or given any sort of incentive for doing it. Yet, my fear response had been triggered just as effectively.
And this is another area where hypnotherapy can be very useful. That fear response is a subconscious reaction. In certain situations, fear does not serve the higher good. Knowing this on a conscious level is fine, but the subconscious is what needs to shift if there is going to be any real change. And so, for all of you out there who suffer from anxiety or unnecessary fear reactions, you might want to consider a few sessions of hypnosis. It could potentially change your life.