JFK once said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. All of these years later, he's still correct, but boy is that difficult to remember when the fear hits us. The fear is a lie. And it knows us very well. It knows what we fear most, and that's where it attacks.
This is why intrusive thoughts are different for so many of us. It could be a heart palpitation, and the fear will try to convince us we may be having a heart attack or some other kind of heart-related problem. A headache then becomes a possible brain tumor. Benzo withdrawal then becomes potentially a hundred other catastrophic ailments.
My friends. Intrusive thoughts are how our fearful chemical withdrawal and amygdalas troll us, trigger us, and spam us. But that doesn't make them real!
The way it works is whatever we resist persists.
I often use the example of the Chinese finger trap. Where you put your fingers into the trap, and when you try to pull them out, the trap locks. The more frantically you try to force your fingers out of the trap, the tighter the trap locks.
This is precisely the nature of our reaction to intrusive thoughts. The fear scares us, and we retreat. The fear then doubles down. It comes on even stronger. So we retreat with even more desparation, and the fear strenghthens.
This creates an escalation in our limbic system, and slowly but surely, the wheels begin to come off, and we slide deeper and deeper into crisis.
After enough time, the fear begins to sink its hooks into time itself. It says, "You've been suffering a long time. You've not been sleeping for a long time. You've dealt with withdrawal for too long... you know what that means!"
My friends, try your best to see the point. None of these lies are truths, of course. The way it works is that the fear is seeking your weakness. Whatever that is. Whatever it looks like. You could be afraid of water, food, the color red, or certain words.
Whatever you resist persists. Whatever you retreat from has power over you.
Now, here's where it gets even more twisted. The fear feeds on fear, and it wants to not only scare you and send you off running, but it wants you to ruminate. Rumination is like chocolate cake to fear. It's delicious. And as long as we keep feeding it, the fear (the bear) will keep coming back.
As we feed, the fear eventually spreads to other areas. The nervous system becomes highly vigilant and can begin to express pain and strange symptoms, which, of course, only further scares the hell out of us. And the fear will feed on this. Nerves will begin to create strengthened pathways, speeding up and enhancing this hypervigilance. The pain and suffering grow. So we go to doctor after doctor searching for answers. We usually get no answers, which startles us more. Or, we get false diagnoses, which, again, scares us even more.
It all begins to feel like a no-win situation.
If we are not careful, we end up in groups or forums with others with similar fears or similar chemical lies, and we use this to reconfirm our own fears. And we may even discover more lies (fears) that others present to us.
The way out of this is multi-dimensional. It begins with the perception of what is happening here, which I'm sharing with you today. It starts with a bit of understanding. Once you identify that you are being lied to, you have taken the first step to improving the situation.
Next, we must work on disengaging from the fear. We must resist running away from fear or engaging in rumination. Engaging in rumination is not the same as standing firm in the face of fear (lies). Rumination is different than challenging the fear (lies). Rumination is the process of feeding the fear.
But here's the thing. The fear is almost clever. It wants to feed off of you, so it offers you a tiny piece of food as well. This comes in the form of self-soothing. And this is often so under the radar that we miss it entirely. Even when we ruminate, and it's causing us so much more suffering, there's still a tiny element of relief. There's a slight trace of soothing. And that, my friends, is why we keep coming back. That is why keep reading those horror stories. That's why we will say we are looking for positive stories, yet we can hear 1000 positive stories, but it's that one negative story we really cling to. That's the one!
Rumination offers us one ounce of relief immediately but costs us 10 pounds of suffering later. Disengage from the fear by cognitively reframing and realigning your perception with the truth.
See the point. See the nature of the beast here.
Next, work on the program! The program is designed to do a few things.
Firstly, as you increase the feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain, you reduce rumination. The more dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, natural GABA, and endorphins you can access, the less of the fight-or-flight response you will trigger. It works both ways. Increase the good chemicals and reduce the bad. By increasing the good, you automatically reduce the bad. They share a relationship. The more you reduce the cortisol and adrenaline, the more the feel-good chemicals can rise.
Think of cortisol and adrenaline as suppressing the feel-good chemicals.
Think of the feel-good chemicals as suppressing cortisol and adrenaline (feel-bad chemicals).
Lulling accesses the feel-good chemicals. Pushing suppresses the feel-bad chemicals.
Work the program. It will help with intrusive thoughts and rumination. The program will also help us build neuroplasticity and new, healthier pathways in our brains. These two factors will also significantly help reduce rumination and fear.
Support also helps. Some good reassurance will help. Eating good foods will help. Practicing good hygiene will help. Getting exercise and sunlight daily will help. Getting lost in creative projects will help. The Five-Senses Limbic Training will help. Graded exposures will help. Learning to differentiate fear from anxiety will help. Learning to differentiate suffering from pain will help. Bit by bit, we slowly and gradually disengage from the fear machine until we finally win.
Treat fear for what it is. A symptom of withdrawal. A sign of healing. It's a matter of perspective. The fear wants to lie to you. It wants to convince you of the worst. In this way, even symptoms of healing are hijacked, and we are told these are symptoms of something dangerous.
After all, that's what chemical fear is... a warning of danger.
Fear is the limbic system's voice shouting, "I THINK SOMETHING IS WRONG!"
Well, that doesn't make it accurate, now does it?