Are there events in your past that you hide from your friends and colleagues? Are there parts of your body that you keep covered at all times? You may think to yourself, “If people see this side of me, they won’t want to associate with me”.
Are you afraid of losing your job? Losing your spouse or partner? Creditors who who leave threatening messages? A physical ailment that could be serious?
If you are an American, you are (statistically) likely to be overweight, over indebted and under increasing threat of losing your job and health benefits. You may have friends that have “dropped out” of the social loop while being overwhelmed with these many adversities. They themselves may feel stigmatized or too ashamed to face their usual circle of friends, and might rather stay out of touch. Its an awful irony how feelings of shame and fear can cause our social relations to deteriorate just when we need them most.
Even if you haven’t dropped out, you may eat, drink or otherwise seek to numb these feelings of fear or shame. But, deep down inside you may already be aware that by numbing your feelings of fear and shame, you also suppressing other emotions such as affection and joy – and thus undermining the social-familial bonds you are so afraid of losing. Again, its an awful irony how fear, shame and anxiety can lead us to self-inflicted ruin.
Nevertheless, the grim reality remains. Our bodies are unsightly, unfit and falling apart as we age. Our careers paths are no longer certain in the new global economy. We owe a lot of money and have barely the means to pay it back. We do not have the resources to pay for old age. Holy crap! This is a dire view of the world hunh?!
What to do? How to avoid the downward spiral of fear and anxiety? Is there an upside to a deteriorating body? a loss of career? a down-shift to a much lower standard of living?
Check out this lecture by Dr. Brene Brown, who has carried out a great deal of social science research on this topic. You will be amazed. You will be uplifted. You will begin to see that THERE IS an upside, and a way to break out of the cycle (unlike corporations, we won’t be getting a bailout).
Yoga and meditation practitioners may enjoy the parts of her talk on “self-love” and “courage” – a word whose origins lie in “cor” the word for “heart” and an ability to look inwardly and face the truth – a common theme, especially in Anusara yoga.
Note to readers: Lately I’ve been focused on various personal and introspective themes, rather than the usual molecular-cognitive science-ology. These themes set a base for exploring the basic biology of our emotional and cognitive lives and I’ll be digging into the brain-biology of these themes in the year to come.