Millions of years ago we lived completely on our instincts. No watches, phones, google map or Siri back then. In fact, if we didn’t have our instincts we would never have made it to the 21st century, and in our world, we were not the biggest or scariest creatures, just think back to the time of the dinosaurs 😱 wow I sometimes wonder how did we come this far? Well, I believe it’s our fight or flight response has been our saviour.
Well I am sure most of you must have heard of Charles Darwin, an amazing guy who has looked at how our world has been changing and evolving over millions of years. He was an English naturalist, geologist, biologist and best known for his contribution to the science of evolution. To try and sum up his years of research in couple of sentences is going to be tricky but here goes.
He saw what other naturalists missed back then, the adapting and changing of the species all over the world, this lead him to believe that species survived through the process of natural selection. He theorised that this process took thousands of years to occur and is essential in the survival of all species.
Here’s an example, the water levels were getting low and the birds beaks couldn’t fit down the cracks in the rocks to get the creatures they fed on. It was either grow a longer beak or die, well for many that’s what happened, over many years the bird’s beaks grew longer adapting to survive. This is what is happening with every species, slowly evolving for millions of years on this planet, changing and adapting to survive. This is called ‘survival of the fittest’, all creatures found ways to change that would help them live longer and stay alive. Of course things died as other things flourished, thank god, we lost the dinosaurs 😱.
In all of this time we have been using our fight or flight response, the primeval instincts which drive us to stay alive. These instincts are amazing and help us to survive in many traumatic situations, they still work in the same way today as they did back then. As I continue to explain you will start to see the bigger picture which will help you expand your understanding of what makes us who we are today.
As cave men, we were hunter gathers, living to be 30 or 35 years old. In caves in France there is some of the most breath-taking art that our planet has to offer. Images of bison’s, lions and other creatures loom from the cavern walls. Many animals are depicted in vivid colours, with a sense of perspective and detail that suggest these artists had acquired considerable skill. Also, many signs have been found to be used repeatedly in these caves, the evidence seems to show some form of written language was being attempted by our Stone Age ancestors.
The caves would have provided shelter but not a permanent home as it shows they travelled to where the food was but would revisit these places. They moved from place to place ,searching for the best hunting ground. Our instincts were crucial to survival as we used our primeval instincts to keep us alive, without those instincts we would have never made it this far.
Ok let’s skip right forward now to 1000 years ago life was still very primitive, to be honest it must have been a bit like the game of thrones minus the dragons. There were bigger social networks, villages had developed people working together as communities to but still dangerous and fight or flight response was still needed to stay alive.
Moving forward again too one hundred years ago which doesn’t sound that long ago at all but how different from today, most of us were born and died in a 12-mile radius. Yes, that’s right just twelve small miles, no supermarkets, or canned or frozen food then, so if you were born by the sea 100 years ago best get used to eating fish and learning to swim.
Look at what has changed in a hundred years
Those amazing Suffragettes were fighting for women’s vote, and thank goodness, we won! People on average washed their hair once a month 😱 We added 10 centimetres in the average overall height and life expectancy for women is now 82 and for men it’s 74 from 50 to 55. Not to mention all the technology we have created to make our lives completely transform, planes, cars, machinery, computers, household appliance, TV’s, telephones -the list is endless.
It’s amazing to see how much we have changed in 100 years, but with so much outer change in our world and the way we live. The inner changes, I believe takes more time, plus we need help and understanding to allow us to evolve as the habits of our past are ingrained into our minds. Getting back to Darwin and the fight or flight response, this has been around for all of our existence- millions of years in fact. Looking back, we had plenty of everyday challenges and things to worry about, no time for irrational fears or insecurities.
Lets think about today for many people this world can seem so much safer, especially in places like England and Europe: no one coming to kill us, an abundance of food and shelter. No major droughts and famines, no local wars or killer epidemics, thankfully so on all counts! But, what does that big part of our mind do which has kept us safe with our fight or flight response?
Our brains are so amazing, even the most advanced computer system doesn’t even come close. Last year researchers used the K computer in Japan – one of the most powerful computers in the world – to simulate human brain activity, and it took massive processor, 1.4 million GB of RAM, and 40 minutes to process the same amount of data processed by just one second of brain activity. It’s mind blowing to think of just how powerful our brains are and they say we only use 10% of them. Number crunching this data shows us that a vast part of our mind has been left twiddling its thumbs. If we are the worrying type, we know what happens with too much time on our hands, yes that’s right worry, worry and more worry.
This is why I believe our 21st century epidemic is anxiety and irrational fears
A bold statement you may say, but after spending 24 years and over 40,000 hours helping people to overcome their fears I think I have some insight into this. Not only do I feel this way, but I feel I have a clear rational explanation of why this is happening to us, and more importantly solutions for you to become anxiety free.
As you can see our fight or flight response has been left without anything to keep it busy and for some of us its running riot, for others it’s just troublesome. Either way it’s impacting our ability to live in the moment and enjoy our lives to the full. Over the next few weeks I will explain more about this and more importantly how to stop feeling this way.
Check out the blog Don’t Feed The Cat it will help you understand these pesky thoughts you may be struggling with and also Down the Rabbit Hole which explains why we can feel afraid of our minds and what they hold.
Thanks for dropping by Sara x