Letting go of fear

I almost trod on a tiger snake the other day. Lying in the grass beside the track, I just didn’t see it. And I was so fortunate. It reared and flattened but didn’t strike. Just inches from my foot, I would have been bitten for sure. My life flashed before me. And I think the scariest part is that the kids could have so easily been with me. Skipping beside me. Right on top of it. Needless to say I’m not so keen to go into the paddocks again.

And most of grow up with a fear of snakes, don’t we. And heights too. One of my best friends is afraid of chickens. Funny thing is she’s quite happy to deal with snakes, but freaks out in a chicken coop. I just laughed when she told me a friend of hers had asked her to get the eggs because there was a snake in the coop. And it was no surprise to me that as she put her hands in the nest box to get the eggs she came face to face with a chicken and froze. Never mind the snake at her feet, didn’t worry her at all.

We’re all so different. And we all have different fears. But one of the fears that strikes terror into the heart of most of us is cancer. And the fear of chemo. And these fears are not fears we’ve gained through experience, but by conditioning. We all grow up with the fear of cancer instilled into us, don’t we. Even before we’ve experienced it. It’s kind of just a societal belief.

But the problem is when we learn these fears and then get our diagnosis. Because fears don’t come out to play until we’re in the situation. Or forced into it. My fear of heights is quite fine until I’m near a cliff edge. Regardless of the safety fence, my legs go to jelly, my heart races and I start to sweat. There’s a beautiful example of the strength of mind-body connection. And I sweat double if my kids are anywhere near the edge. And I’m sure that’s what happens in the chemo suite. That fear of chemo we so often grow up with can create havoc as we get our infusions. Because fear increases our metabolism. And that’s one of the reasons we can experience more side-effects.

Most people don’t realise fears are learned responses. Feelings that occur when the trigger is present. The cliff edge, the snake in the paddock, the chemo suite. And the effects are truly physical. Subconscious associations between a trigger and a response. After all, we don’t consciously freak out, it’s just something that happens, isn’t it. And this is why subconscious work is so important in cancer care. Because this is where we store our learnings. And to unlearn them, to learn something better, we’ve got to work where the problem is. No point in talking about it. That just makes it worse. Better to let our fears go if we want to make the experience of chemo easier…

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.