Do you ever get a feeling of foreboding, like something is going to go very very wrong?
I experienced this yesterday and wondered why. I mean, I didn’t experience that feeling earlier in the year before I lost my grandmother, then my aunt and then recently, my sister.
I didn’t experience it before finding out the guy I’d just started dating earlier this year was an alcoholic and nor did I experience it when my ex-husband messaged me to say he’d lost his job and would be cutting my child support.
Actually, despite what I’ve had to deal with this year, things have been going pretty well lately. I feel empowered, optimistic and am having fun.
So, why that sense of foreboding when nothing is wrong?
I have a theory.
When things are going well, but your life has been defined by drama, problems and obstacles, your brain can trick you into thinking you’re not safe and that you can expect things to go downhill sometime soon.
The human brain has this amazing ability to self-regulate. When you put on weight and keep it on for a while, your brain thinks that weight is normal for you and makes it hard for you to lose the extra kilos when you feel motivated. I read about this in Dr Jason Fung’s extraordinary book, The Obesity Code.
When you are in unfamiliar territory, your brain can react by activating the parasympathetic nervous system that produces the “flight or fight” response.
If you are used to responding to the new and unfamiliar as threats, then it makes sense that your brain records that response as normal.
Lately, I’ve been slowly getting to know a guy who is funny, smart, a total smartarse, pretty adorkable really. But, I sometimes catch myself feeling that panicky sensation and thinking “how am I going to screw this up?” because, based on past experience with men, I decided that I break people, that I am not good enough and fundamentally flawed.
The problem with that way of being is it allows that sense of foreboding to creep in and the very thing you fear, you end up creating anyway.
Fortunately, we humans have the ability to activate our higher social brains, to examine those moments of panic and foreboding and look at them with fresh eyes, breathing through the experience and understanding it for what it is, so we can alter course.
Many unfamiliar experiences can lead to this “flight or fight” response. And you may find that when you respond differently to situations that would normally trigger your brain to regulate and normalise your reactions, that sense of foreboding intensifies.
The good news is that once your brain adapts to the unfamiliar, you establish a new normal.
I am working on that new normal right now. I’m embracing the unfamiliar so I can create a life of being at peace, powerful and connected.
I don’t know what the future holds. I do know, though, that I have the power to create what I want in relationships, in my family, in my work and in life. I can’t wait to see what my new normal looks like. Anything is possible.