I’m Not Cold, I’m Just Afraid of Being Hurt

October 29, 2016

We live in a society that seems to lack intimacy. It is bad for boys to cry because crying is for girls and demonstrates weakness. Young people prefer one-night stands so they don’t get hurt. Adults have relationships with people who don’t love them. Elderly people are living alone because they are seen as a nuisance. It’s time to overcome our fear of feeling. Where has our humanity gone?

It is difficult to see two people giving each other a hug on the street without being couple. Saying “I love you” without sounding weird. Crying without feeling guilty or embarrassed. It seems that we live in a culture of “no feeling” because if we feel or talk about our feelings we are considered weak. So, instead of getting a hug with empathy and affection, we get jokes.

“How many things do we lose by fear of losing.”

-Paulo Coelho-

The fear of getting hurt

Imagine that you are walking through a forest and it gets dark. You suddenly see a shadow and something moves. Your brain puts your body on alert before identifying whether it is an animal or just the wind. This way of reacting is due to our survival instinct. In the brain, we have a small structure called the amygdala, which processes experiences of fear.

girl sitting with fear

The amygdala is an emergency button that activates when danger lurks. A professor of Psychobiology at the Luis Carretié Autonomous University of Madrid argues that the system is capable of activating the answer even before we are aware of the danger.

Two studies published in 2010 in the journal Nature, conducted by the team of neurobiologists of David J. Anderson at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), and Professor Andreas Lüthi, from the Friedrich Miescher Institute (FMI), deciphered in operation what they call “the circle of fear”.

Studies have proven the existence of two types of neuronal cells in the amygdala take turns to open and close the “gates” of fear. But Carretié argues that studies should be viewed with caution because there are other factors in humans that are related to fear. For example, it also plays an important role in the prefrontal cortex which puts the situation into context and makes the response not so automatic, but more elaborate.

“Cowardice ages us more than time, the years only wrinkle the skin, but fear wrinkles the soul.”

-Facundo Cabral-

If a person hurts us, whether it is a spouse, a boss or a relative, even with words that hurt us, the response of the amygdala would actively respond. However, it is our pre-frontal cortex that puts everything into context and makes us take a moment of reflection, if we can, before acting. On the other hand, we must consider that fear is largely influenced by our experience and can block our feelings.

How to overcome the fear of getting hurt

At some point, or many times, we have been hurt, but that does not mean it will always happen, nor does it mean that we have to change our ways. In this situation, we propose some ideas as a way to reflect and take off the armor that covers our feelings:

Recognizing what frightens us

The first step, and perhaps the most difficult to overcome a fear, is recognizing it. What has happened in the past that causes us fear? What are we afraid of and why? A deep reflection about it will help us understand what is happening and have a realistic view of the problem.

girl thinking with her hands on her head

Knowing our feelings

We feel many things and sometimes we keep those feelings deep inside of us because of embarrassment or fear. We do this without realizing that putting on that shield is only hurting us. Perhaps we need help from others to talk about it or a specialist, but the important thing is to learn to know ourselves and to live what we feel.

Expressing yourself through art

Dance, painting, writing and all other art forms can help us express ourselves and let out what we feel with courage and without fear. The important thing is to find an activity that we like and encourage ourselves to express ourselves and feel.

“Feelings and emotions are the universal language that must be honored. They are the authentic expression of who we are.”

-Judith Wright-

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