Halloween is my JAM. I absolutely love it. My family also takes this holiday very seriously. Let’s just say that we have had our plan for costumes in place since July. Maybe it’s because my husband and I met at a Halloween party, but we really see it as quite the event every year. In fact, my house is so over the top during the scary season that people are often stopped on foot and in their cars just to get a look at my haunted house. Muah, ha, ha, HA, HA!
I can’t lie. I kinda like to be scared. Crazy, I know. But let me explain.
Yes, I like to be a little spooked, but just a little, though. Not scared out of my mind running from a real dude with a real axe, but just hyped up a little, cautious, and smiling about it all…It feels strangely good to be a curious about what will happen around the next corner of the haunted house. Right? Ha! Maybe not… 😉
There is a fine line actually to how your brain interprets fear and everybody’s brain is a little different in the way that they perceive things. Parts of our brain don’t even speak English so calming yourself with relaxing self-talk often won’t work. This is why when parents tell their kids, “It’s just a movie!” or “It’s just pretend! This isn’t real,” when a little freak out happens at the Spirit Store, it likely won’t work either. Are you weeping at a Nicholas Sparks book or Steel Magnolias? Your brain thinks that stuff is REAL. This is why it’s fun to go to movies, right?
To be afraid, to truly trip the Fight, Flight or Freeze Response (the F Responses) in our brains can be terrifying and even sometimes create long-term effects because of the trauma. Your brain is also kinda famous for attaching meaning to something that really isn’t harmful at all and the effects of this common occurrence can really leave a mark on you. This would be like if someone with a bright red shirt robbed you at gunpoint in an alley and later, you find that every time you go to Target you have a panic attack. Your brain thinks red shirts are dangerous. Further, you might not even make the connection alone and need a therapist to peel away all that meaning so you can shop at Target, and hang out at Christmas parties no problem.
Fear is tricky in our brains.
Fear is tricky in our brains. Just know, that if you’re running like a zebra from a lion in the Serengeti, there needs to actually be a lion chasing you, not just a snarky email in your inbox from your boss. Otherwise, you will wear down those F Responses and walk around a little on edge all the time, super stressed out or worse, manifest it all in your body somewhere with some kind of disease.
What everyone seems to forget about is the coveted, wonderful, Challenge Response to stress. This little cocktail is way more motivating and exciting then the Fight, Flight or Freeze Responses we’ve all learned so much about.
When you are in the Challenge Response, your brain waves are on high alert, you are wide awake and hyper vigilant, but you are READY…Ready to rise up and get the job done, conquer the task at hand and you are feeling good, and nervous, and pumped up all at the same time.
I think this is the response that my brain takes on during Halloween…I don’t walk through the Haunted House thinking, “This is the end of me!” Instead, I’m like, “Bring it on, I GOT THIS!” and this, believe me, is way, way more fun.
Here is the good news, you can switch from one of the F Responses to the Challenge Response, just by changing the way that you are looking at and thinking about your situation. The first step is to take on that new mantra, “I got this!” Even though the part of your brain that enables this new magical solution doesn’t understand words, it does understand emotion. That is the key here…the emotion that comes along with “I can DO this!” is profound and just enough to get your brain on board.
This type of mantra can get your wheels turning on how you can think about the situation differently and visualize yourself having wild success. Once you can get your brain to switch to the Challenge Response, your whole body begins preparing you for action and even better, success! This puts you in charge, on top and conquering the situation at hand, albeit a creepy zombie jumping at you, a big presentation or a hard conversation with a difficult person.
Having trouble finding the Challenge Response? Here is a quick tip to add: Try a superhero stance. If you stand there like Wonder Woman or Superman with your hands on the front of your hips and your shoulders back, your brain will send you a message, “Here I come! To save the day!” and begin to cook up that Challenge Response recipe for you in no time. The same thing works if you lean back on your desk chair and put your feet up with your hands behind your head. You simply can’t feel weak in this position! Try it out and let me know if you come up with any cool poses on your own.
I’ll see you at the haunted house. Whoooooooooohoooooooooo!
Wishing you a super scary and fun Halloween!