I listened to a voicemail one day from an acquaintance. “Hey Kara. Give me a call back. There’s something I need to talk to you about.”
I froze. Immediately, my mind spun into a cyclone of possibilities of what I could have done wrong. I braced myself for getting in trouble, for getting lectured, for knowing that I’d likely freeze, unable to defend myself. My heart pounded, my skin reddened, my chest was tight as it held these anxious feelings.
Then I caught myself, and laughed a little bit. I’m acting like this person is my boss! As if I’ll step into an office and be fired for poor performance, or worse, have my integrity questioned.
It eased the tension a bit. But my body still reacted. And my mind still wondered, what if? Instead of letting the fear linger in avoidance of a potentially uncomfortable situation (that, at this point, was the imaginative workings of a deeply rooted inner critic), I took a few deep breaths and returned the call immediately.
I talked with a little more enthusiasm and a little more volume than normal, hoping that it would cover the doubt shaking in my voice.
Turns out, he wanted to be my boss. He was offering me a job.
The intensity of this reaction permanently emblazoned itself into my awareness. I began to notice how often I felt this way, both mentally and physically.
As I began to pay attention to these moments, I began to understand myself. For years, a simple question may send me into a frenzy of defensiveness even though there was no logical reason to go there. I noticed it was steeped in a lack of trust. When I was able to really listen to myself, I kept hearing a variation of “They’re trying to prove you wrong.” “I don’t believe.” “You can’t be trusted.”
In one sudden moment, the root of all this fear came flying into my consciousness.
What you’re afraid of has already happened, I thought.
I realized that this pattern was a somatic reaction to years of enduring another’s distrust, despite always acting with the best of intention and in honesty. This, in turn, caused a deficiency of trust within myself.
So began the next step in the process of healing from this wound.
This pattern still shows up, but it’s not as strong as it once was. When the voice shows up demanding that I doubt myself, often I can stop it from taking hold. Sometimes that may be by simply lessening the harsh tone. Sometimes the somatic feels—the racing heart, fire-y skin, a total thought freeze— never arise.
This is freedom.
While awareness of why a pattern is a pattern and the ability to intercept the pattern are key to liberation, the healing isn’t always instantaneous. As the years have gone on, I’ve discovered new layers that help me understand this pattern even further. And over the years, I’ve worked to integrate this cognitive knowing into a body knowing, releasing the somatic response of my body.
A relevant reminder from a La Vie de la Rose flower essence affirmation reads: “When I am frightened by present circumstances, I look within to my past for the source of my fear.” (La Vie de la Rose, Taking Shelter)
What do you fear that has already happened?
About: Kara McNabb is a naturopathic practitioner who focuses on the mind-body connection and uses a variety of modalities and remedies to assist in wellness. She works with adults and children.