I drive a highway to work each day. It is early morning when not many cars are out on the road. But the freeway is scattered with semi-trucks that I pass on my way. Often, I come upon a semi-truck, that will swerve into my lane just a bit.
One particular morning on my way to work I was in the passing lane just reaching the left flank of a semi-truck. He had been driving on his side as I approached and had not swerved, so I felt secure to pass him. Just as my right front bumper was about to reach his left back bumper, he swerved over into my lane. I quickly applied my brakes to miss hitting him.
As fear clutched my heart, I noticed a strange sensation. My heart had butterflies fluttering around inside it. The feeling of dread overtook me. My breathing and heart were racing, and I experienced a shudder throughout my body.
With this experience, I realized that the feelings that accompany an elated emotion are the same as the ones that we also have when we are afraid. The only difference is the weight of the experience. Excitement is a fluttering of butterflies while fear is the same butterflies with chains and weights attached to them.
The initial fear is automatic, and your reactions are hard to control with all of the adrenalin pumping through your body. The response I am talking about is the one that accompanies a fear from long ago. This fear has memories attached to it. When you encounter a situation that triggers those memories you have the same fear all over again.
The number of years that have passed do not change the original fear. Your reaction can be the same as it was initially or you can choose to change the way you perceive this fear.
When I had a fear of hitting that truck, I felt butterflies. Then it turned to a weighted feeling. Then it changed to a shudder as the adrenaline coursed through my body.
When an old fear in your life is triggered, you have a choice to deal with it in a non-threatening manner. What happened to you years ago is a memory. That memory can no longer harm you. But your body reacts the same as years ago.
But what if you perceived this fear differently? What if you reminded yourself the past situation cannot reach you now? When the butterflies flutter and the adrenalin pumps, you tell yourself that you can overcome the fear.
What happened long ago can no longer reach you if you face it and acknowledge that it is just a memory. To change your reaction, you will need to look at the situation differently.
When you have a feeling that chains and weights are dragging the butterflies down, this is fear. You can decide to let it go. You can keep it light by realizing that the fear you felt in the past is chains that bind you. The fear will stop and allow your body to react differently.
You can now slow your breathing and move forward with a slight ruffling of your memory but no fear attached to it.
The more you practice this concept, the less your past fears will be triggered. You will become stronger at controlling your reaction to the past.