This Blog post was inspired by the song ‘Greater than I’ by Kate Walsh. Listen here!
I have been thinking a lot about fear recently. This year has been terrifying. However, all emotions and thoughts have a positive origin because the first priority of our brain is to protect us. This might seem controversial at first but fear is a great example of this. Though we experience it as a negative feeling, fear is actually there to encourage us to be careful, to survive.
Next time you have what you perceive to be a ‘negative thought’, see if you can track it back to its original purpose, see if you can see the other, positive side to it. Try to thank it for protecting you. An example of this for me was telling myself that I was faking my pain. When my symptoms first developed, I had no idea what was going on and nor did anybody else. I was a ten year old being questioned constantly about why I couldn’t do things, by teachers, classmates, family members and even strangers. I was (and still am) in constant pain, struggling to walk, and at the time had little to no understanding of what was happening to me. The thought pattern of ‘it’s not real, I am faking it’ not only enabled me to feel a sense of control over my deteriorating health, but also helped me to push myself to attend school as much as I could (which… wasn’t a lot). The point is, it helped me survive. Even though it is clearly an unhealthy internal monologue, its original purpose was to protect me, and, though I didn’t realise it then, it was successful.
Nevertheless, these negative thoughts haunted me from the ages of 11 to 19, even though they were no longer serving me, my brain was following the groove of a thought pattern that had worked previously. It was only this year, through therapy, when I was able to stop viewing the thoughts as attacks. Instead, I can see them for what they were and are, the only defence mechanisms I knew as a child. I was able to forgive myself for not knowing what to do. Now, I don’t experience the massive internal conflict I had because I realised there was no conflict. All my thoughts have the same intention: to help me survive.
I am now able to understand why my instinct was to blame myself, because nobody else was to blame. The thing is, I wasn’t either. But I can appreciate and actually be grateful that my brain gave me a way out when I had none, no matter how warped it may seem.
Fear. It can be irrational, scary, all encompassing, crippling. But what if we flip the narrative? What if fear is just faith you can’t see? Faith, in yourself, and your ability to survive.