As humans our brain and central nervous system are always scanning the environment for threats to our survival. It is part of our evolutionary biology that has helped us survive to this point. The problem is that currently we have very few true threats to our survival. There are no tigers, lions, or man-eating dinosaurs lurking in the grass of the savannah. Now we live in a world of perceived threats. Perceived threats for the most part are just how we think about an event or circumstance, not the event itself.
Our well-developed brain and central nervous system, however, responds to our thoughts, perceived threats, just like they are real and responds physically much the same. There is a very important difference with our current threats and that is we don’t get much of a rest from them. There is a constant flow of thoughts going through our minds.
In the early development of these evolutionary survival responses, we would have a threat and either escape or die. If we escaped, we would have recovery time and our systems would return to normal until the next threat would come along. This recovery was part of our development and is how our system is designed to function currently.
If we could change our thinking, perceived threats, it would help us on many levels to live our lives healthier. Here is a short story that will help you think about your perceived threats, stress called zombies in a different and more impowering way.
Imaging living in a world of the Zombie Apocolyps where you are constantly stalked by hungry zombies. For many of us our priority is going to be building a house or enclosure of some sort to protect ourselves. But what to build the structure out of becomes important.
Some people will try to use money to build the walls of their enclosure. “If only I had enough money,” they think, “the zombies won’t be able to get to me and I’ll be safe.” They spend their lives desperately earning as much as they possibly can and fearfully spending as little of it as possible. Convinced that if they can only accumulate enough the zombies will never be able to scale the walls.
Others build their enclosures out of approval, adulation, and fame. “If only people love and respect and admire me enough,” they think, “the zombies won’t be able to get me, and I’ll be safe.” Each new bit of acclaim is like another stone in the enclosure wall, while each shot to their reputation is like a battering ram against the gates, leaving them more vulnerable.
Still others attempt to build their enclosure walls with sex and intimate relationships. “If I can get just one person to really love me,” healthy living, “If I just eat all the right things and do all the right things,” or the pursuit of power and position, “If I can just fight my way to the top,” to keep themselves safe.
But as you can imagine, not everyone is successful at building and defending their enclosure, even those who do well in the world get bitten by the zombies from time to time. And if you haven’t been bitten by a zombie before, well let’s just say it is extremely painful.
So, people learn to drink, smoke, eat, gamble, chew gummies or even bite their nails to numb the pain and to mitigate the continual anxiety of having to defend themselves against the zombies, who as every child knows, could be lurking around every corner or hidden behind the deceptive smile of a stranger posing as a friend.
But what would happen if you woke up one day and realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was no zombie? If you could see that what you thought was the zombie’s shadow was in fact just the shadow of a thought?
If you really saw that there was no zombie, all your anxiety and stress would dissipate almost immediately. And the massive zombie-avoiding activity would come to an immediate end as well. Nails would no longer need to be bitten, or approval sought, or food/money/drugs consumed at a startling rate. If the source of your anxiety was no longer there. In short you could simply relax and enjoy your life.
Of course, things wouldn’t always turn out as you hoped and from time to time you might even see something that looked a bit like a zombie or feel something that hurt as badly as a zombie bite. But before you could get too caught up in it, something would happen to remind you that you're never afraid of what you think you’re afraid of. You’re afraid of what you think. And in just a few moments, you would return to your natural state of health, ease and wellbeing.
Remember, “Don’t believe everything you think.”
You’ve got this!