My early warning system is outdated.
As luck (and prior conditioning) would have it, I have a very old version of the software, and updates can only be performed manually by a programmer who doesn’t know what she is doing (aka me).
What I mean by this is, let’s say I go to pick up the phone. Maybe I need to call the auto repair shop or my mom. In that moment, I am not afraid to talk on the phone. I have something I need to accomplish and I have decided that using the phone is the best way to accomplish it.
Unfortunately, I also have 30+ prior years of feeling quite phone-phobic tucked away somewhere inside my brain, and my amygdala (unlike myself) has a memory like an elephant.
So just as I’m heading towards wherever I think I left my iPhone this time, my early warning system nudges me and whispers, “You hate the phone, remember?”
Oh yeah, that’s right. Thanks for that wave of totally inaccurate retroactive fear you just introduced into my day.
But the fear-memory lingers…..as fear memories often do. Meanwhile, my survival instinct is riding high on yet another adrenaline rush of emergency preparations.
Emergency preparations I don’t need.
Emergency preparations I don’t want.
Emergency preparations that continue no matter how many times I attempt to reboot the hard drive.
In other words, my early warning system isn’t working right. It tells me I’m afraid of stuff I am not afraid of. It often gets so busy with those old outdated fears that it forgets to notify me of new stuff I actually am afraid of….at least until well after I’ve figured this out for myself.
On the bright side, I am discovering that a) it is helpful to actually notice that my early warning system is faulty, b) I can manually reprogram the system even though it is time-consuming and patience-taxing, c) I have a greater appreciation for the presence of an early warning system than ever before.
Today’s Takeaway: How accurate are the fear- or threat-messages your amygdala sends you? Are you still afraid of all the things you think you are afraid of? Do all the things that irritate you really still irritate you? If some of your fears or avoidance list items are outdated, what are you doing to update your system – and if what you are doing is working, I would love to hear your tips and ideas!
High heel shoe stepping on cell phone image available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 3 Sep 2013