Checking out at Walgreens, the cashier started laughing as he was ringing up my bag of cotton balls. I looked at him inquisitively, which was his prompt to tell me how in his younger years, he chased his best friend around the house with cotton balls because his friend was deathly afraid of them. Then he said, "I think it was the texture; he hated how they felt." I nodded empathetically, and I couldn't help adding, "Maybe your friend was neuro-divergent and had tactile sensitivities." To which he replied, "Oh wow, maybe."
The last few days, I have thought about my own fears. I used to be afraid of cats, prompted by childhood nightmares of a cat bite causing instant death. I remember one specific dream of getting out of our family car in a restaurant parking lot at dusk and freezing in utter fear at a cat in my path. My family dismissed my fear in my dream and insisted I come along. I took a step, and sure enough, the cat bit my ankle. I can still feel the sensation of dying.
Thirty years ago, when I was in my energy medicine program and doing some inner work, I had a past-life memory come into my awareness of being bit by a bobcat while traveling across the country in wagon trains. I didn't die in that recall, but I did lose my leg from infection. I am happy to report I am no longer afraid of cats and even had three as pets over the years.
As for anxiety-inducing fears go, dressing up for Halloween ranks very high. It's not because I am not creative enough to pull off a costume, but rather because the thought of covering up my authentic self is intensely unsettling. My husband loves Halloween and dressing in a costume, and staying in character. As he was good-naturedly teasing me last night, I allowed my inner child to show me her fear and her need to hide in the corner rather than wear a costume. I soothed that child. To reduce my anxiety and tend to my inner child, I give myself some parameters. Nothing goes on my face, and I wear a favorite pair of shoes that I wear most Halloweens. It helps my inner child go along. And I don't have to do anything outlandish, just enough to get by. Last night I put on a simple tunic from our box of costumes. I added a stylish fedora unrelated to the cloak. I threw on the favored worn-out leather shoes. When asked what I was, I answered: "I am a character from a movie you haven't seen yet."
Over the years, I have learned that our fears can get out of hand and affect our behavior. This occurs when we either abandon the needs of our inner child, or we imagine ourselves in some future scenario. Fear distorts how we see our future selves. In the imagined future, we fear we are helpless, which blinds us to the resources we do have. To help soothe your anxieties, check in with your inner child and reassure them that are not abandoned and your adult self is capable and paying attention to what is needed. Or if you are worried about a future event, make sure you remember that when the time comes, you will have the resources to help you deal with the imagined upcoming situation. You are strong, capable, and resilient.
The conversation with the cashier and my tapping into my own fears allows me to take a moment to have compassion for our unique idiosyncrasies. And know that we can self-soothe and self-regulate with self-awareness and self-love.
Do you have any fears or idiosyncrasies you want to share, to get them off your chest and reflect on them in a new light? If so, shoot me an email.