I recently assisted at a University recruitment event. One of my colleagues mentioned he hadn't slept well the previous night. He explained that he had shoulder pain, despite nothing being wrong with his shoulder. It turned out that he had had an accident in the past which had created severe pain, and even after recovering, his nerves were still sending pain signals to the brain, despite there being very little or no cause. It was as if his body had memorised the feeling and kept reacting despite there being no sign of hurt.
He also told me that the doctors had tried to figure out where in the nerve system the signals were disconnected (thereby failing to create accurate reactions) but couldn't find it.
This reminded me of the anxiety I sometimes have in certain situations, despite there being no threat or danger. An example would be a social event, where I fear that a person may say something hurtful. It is as if my body goes into lockdown mode, my stomach (the organ which most resembles the state of your brain) gets tense, and sometimes I almost feel like crying. I can't pinpoint exactly where the fear is coming from, I just know there have been events in the past where I have felt helpless and have no control. Even if there is just a hint of someone being blunt, my body goes into defense mode sometimes.
Power of the Mind
As mentioned in the previous blog post, the key in these moments is to acknowledge that you are feeling vulnerable, speak to someone you trust and if necessary, take a break and remove yourself temporarily from the situation. If the reactions persist and hinder you from socialising, seek help. Whatever you do, avoid isolation and shame. You can get through this.
It is fully understandable that your body has memorised strong events, and created strong reactions to protect you. It is a great thing to have that defensive reaction in crucial situations. However, your mind and body can be trained into preserving that for when it really matters and enable you to trust yourself and be relaxed in your everyday life.