Exhausted from working a 9-5 mediocre job to provide for my animals (ironically, in which I homed to make my life more bearable) I collapsed onto the couch and selected my favourite serial killer documentary on Netflix ... as, of course, like every other ‘normal’ person, that’s what I use to unwind.
Since I had been an absolute star, gone to the gym and ate healthily all day, I had already collected all my night-time high caloric snacks from my fridge and laid them out on the table in front of my couch where they were waiting to be consumed and undo my good effort.
A gorgeous shrine of carbs.
Yup…I’m my own undoing. I get it. I really do.
I sat up, startled.
The popcorn I was absentmindedly crunching on, rolls off my chest and my heart pounds as hard as it does for the Ben and Jerry's ice cream which had now dripped down onto my black cats quivering nose.
The loud ‘hiss’ that emits from her adds to the already creepy 'Horror movie' ambience of my humble abode.
‘What the fuck was that noise?!’
I hold my breath whilst every muscle that I neglected to train at the gym, tightens… my mind conjures up images of a crazed gun-wielding Freddy Krueger look alike riding on a decrepit bicycle.
I think the bike bit was due to the SAW movie I fell asleep to the night prior. Lovely memories of someone waking up in a bathtub sans organs.
My organs probably won’t be worth that much, ‘coz alcohol.
But the serial killer wanting to rob me of body parts, running around outside, may not know that yet.
Mentally I see AND hear him, leisurely darting about the house, murder in his eyes, laughing hysterically.
That my friends, is FEAR.
Simultaneously protecting and fucking with me.
That darn narcissist.
Reality was a lot less scary. It seems that the wind blew over the neighbour’s wheelie bin, it wasn’t the masked Freddy/Saw hybrid gunman that I panickedly pictured. However, my experience initiated an emotional response that is usually crucial to our survival.
If you know me, you’d be well aware that I am fluent in the art of ‘emotional response’...
But this was FEAR … and fear can be a LIAR.
Fear can be crippling. It can be irrational, but it also can be warranted... as long as we keep it in perspective.
However, if you’re anything like me…the task of 'managing reactions' and 'being rational' is often quite alien. It takes a lot of reminding to understand that fear is a primitive, primary, healthy and natural response.
But again, most of the time, it's a dirty rotten liar, gaslighting the fuck out of you. Love bombing you with false feelings and toxicity. So, the trick is to keep your fears in perspective, and manage your reaction to them. Reminding yourself constantly that you’re in control and most of the time, a rational human being.
Most. of. the. time.
C’mon, I’m sure we all do it to a certain extent. Let our imaginations run a little bit wild. Scare ourselves.
Get into a google rabbit hole when experiencing a random chest pain. Create a consequence in our mind, that doesn’t necessarily exist?
If we accept that fear is ingenuine, why do we believe it ahead of the things we know to be true? Even when we make it up ourselves, creating it...jumping to worst case far fetched scenarios?
For example, I knew it was the bin. It’d happened before, embarrassingly enough. Several times. That noise should be as familiar as my stomach rumbling for after dinner snacks. Why did my mind go, as if on a permanent morbid default setting, to serial killers on bikes?
Like, come on folks, am I that naïve? (permission not granted to answer that)
I ring a friend, who also has an interest in psychology, and they give me the perfect analogy….
Consider a roller coaster. One person hangs on for dear life and makes promises to God. Another person yawns with boredom. Same ride. Different mindset. Now imagine the terrified subject riding the roller coaster 25 times in a row. Will their level of fear be the same on the first and 25th ride? Most likely not.
That is why exposure therapy is common with people in where fear affects their day to day life.
In this case, maybe insanity isn’t doing the same thing over and over again?
We always see quotes about courage not being the absence of fear...just in case your pinterest board doesn't contain enough of them, here's one anyway:
Living in fear is obviously not ideal nor healthy. Knowing what and who to fear, is.
Our brain takes two separates but simultaneous, paths from calm to fear. The “low road” and the “high road”. The low road takes a shoot first, ask questions later approach. It assumes that what you’re experiencing is danger. A matter of life and death.
The high road is more logical. It’s patient. It waits to assess the facts. Then makes a decision.
Because the two roads occur simultaneously, you feel the white-knuckle pure terror initially, and realise later, that there’s nothing to worry about.
So, what the hell do you do if jumping to fearful conclusions is your forte? How do we get to the "high road".
Apparently it's as simple as changing your mindset. Most issues arise due to the way we perceive things, how we think about them, not about the actual events themselves. Tackle your thought process in a more logical way and you're set.
Easier said than done, but possible nonetheless. I'm always advised the following:
1. Accept that fear can be a lying cunt
2. Trust in what you know to be true.
3. Understand consequence.
4. And if there is indeed a crazed bike riding killer at your door, and you haven’t gorged yourself into a Ben and Jerry's food coma and are able…
RUN LIKE HELL !