The Illusion of Safety
When I had the thought that no one was reading my writing, I felt free to be bold and brave. I felt safe.
Now that I’ve told a few people that I’ve been writing and I’m no longer anonymous, I notice myself wanting to shrink and hide.
They see me.
They will judge me.
They will think my ideas are stupid.
Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this at all.
Suddenly I feel unsafe and my brain is freaking out and telling me to stop.
Kara Loewentheil talks about why this happens in her podcast on Fear and Safety
Because our brains have evolved to keep us alive at all costs, there’s nothing that it takes more seriously than feeling unsafe. If you tell yourself that you feel unsafe, your brain hyper focuses on that. It’s one job in life becomes trying to get you away from the danger so you can feel safe, even though the danger is just in your thoughts.
The only reason I feel unsafe is because of my thoughts. My writing and the people reading it are all innocent. Fascinating.
I see this happen with some of my clients after they lose a noticeable amount of weight. People start to comment on their bodies and their brain tells them that what is happening isn’t safe. Being seen isn’t safe. They believe their brains and they eat to stay in the safety zone. They plateau and or they gain the weight back again. They stay in a body that feels safe to them even though it’s ultimately not what they want.
I get that. I see it happening here with my writing and I see it happening in other areas of my life.
We get past this by noticing that we are doing it in the first place.
When we notice that the only reason we are feeling unsafe is because of our thoughts and that there’s no physical danger at play, we can manage our brains in a way so that we keep going toward our goals.
The thoughts might be…
I’m willing to feel unsafe in order to move forward.
I am not in actual danger; I’m creating this fear with my brain.
When I choose to stay safe, I also choose to stay stuck.
Our brains will still tell us to stop, but when we know that we don’t have to listen to and believe those thoughts, we keep moving forward no matter what.